The latest tech can improve communication, but owners want to be sure their data is safe.
Virtual assistants and chatbots allow brands to connect with travelers more efficiently: These technologies are available 24/7/365 and are active on channels that consumers are already using. But in The Connected Traveler, a recent survey by payments processing technology company Worldpay, more than half of respondents said they were uncomfortable sharing financial information with a chatbot or virtual assistant in order to book more quickly; three-quarters were concerned about a connected device being hacked.
The first step in allaying those fears is to ensure that the data you collect is secure. Follow the Federal Trade Commission’s guide on how businesses can protect personal information. Restrict who can access owner data and where it is kept—whether that’s a central computer, cloud service or employee mobile device. Know when to delete information—if it no longer fulfills a legitimate business need, don’t keep it. And consider securing the data you do keep with multifactor authentication, such as not only requiring a password but also sending users a code via text or email that they will need to log in.
Mark McSpadden, vice president of digital experience for travel technology company Sabre, recommends that brands look for a technology provider with a proven ability to work with consumer data in other channels. “Using a partner that knows your data and that you trust is another great way to ensure you’re investing in the right spots,” McSpadden says.
Once you’ve taken care of security on the back end, consider how you interact with consumers on connected platforms. Let them know exactly what data you need, why you need it and how it will be used. Avoid asking for data that people are reluctant to offer. “Financial and biometric data are a sticking point for many people—which makes sense,” McSpadden says. “Customers are willing to give up some amount of [other forms of] information for better service.”
Let consumers know that they’re talking to a bot at the beginning of the conversation and give them the option of switching to person-to-person service at any time. This allows you to direct users to the best platform for the situation. If a bot can’t handle a task, such as answering a booking question, be upfront about it and hand the customer off to an agent right away.
Once you have a plan in place, get the word out on social media and your website. “Using the current channels you offer to promote newer technologies is a great way to open up a traveler’s consideration,” McSpadden says. “The travelers who are excited about these technologies will recognize them and be eager to try them.”
Image credit: iStockphoto