Service experience at Marina Bay Sands essentially comes down to how well it handles and predicts customer requests. It puts the Contact Center in the spotlight. Improving its capabilities impacts how well the hotel can attract high-paying customers for return visits.
“The rise of social media in recent years has somewhat shaped the mentality of guests – they now expect near-instantaneous replies every time they call into the Contact Center. That means our communications not only have to be customized and accurate, they need to be delivered in a timely manner,” Ian Wilson, Marina Bay Sands’ SVP of Non-Gaming Operations and Hotel Operations said.
"Having standard templates and canned replies are not enough," he added.
The leading hotelier turned to data. It wanted to digitally transform its Contact Center using data analytics and artificial intelligence for staff to provide an “exceptional” service experience.
“Our customers want to be able to interact with us on their preferred channels, wherever they are and when they choose to. Thus, ensuring that we remain contactable and responsive 24/7 is a key driver behind our operations,” Wilson said.
The task was gargantuan. The premium global brand hosts “tens of thousands” of daily visitors, runs a complex operation and a myriad of events across the property.
However, Marina Bay Sands sees that digital transformation is necessary. So, it forged ahead to ensure that its Contact Center staff had the right, up-to-date information.
“As the first front-line team our guests interact with, the Contact Center team has the responsibility to be up-to-date with the latest information, whether it’s an exhibition happening at the ArtScience Museum, or a special wine dinner at our celebrity chef restaurants. Keeping abreast of these developments – through close inter-department collaborations and staff training - allows us to better anticipate our customers’ needs,” Wilson said.
The integrated resort first gave its phone systems an essential upgrade. It deployed a highly optimized Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system that allowed the right team members to connect with customers quickly.
The upgraded phone system shared data with the membership and rewards systems through Computer Telephone Interfaces (CTI). CTI allowed the Contact Center staff to identify at least 70% of the callers rapidly, and improve overall service experience. The system also offered the team crucial details of the caller that sped up the verification process and improved how efficiently they attended to specific requests.
Marina Bay Sands now sees its Contact Center as part of a growing digital workforce that currently employs various artificial intelligence and automation technologies.
"Technology is seen as a key part of the Contact Center and akin to a digital workforce that is extremely scalable. Our digital workforce includes the use of Interactive Voice Response (IVR), chatbots, self-help, and automation," Wilson said.
“Managing this unique blend of human and digital workforce are crucial leadership skills in this transformation journey – it gives us the confidence that we are ready to address change brought about by disruptions in the future,” he added.
Customers seem to agree with the new improvements. The hotel’s net promoter score (NPS) showed year-on-year improvements with positive feedback from customers. It also won the coveted Customer Experience (CX) Mystery Calling award for the last three years.
Marina Bay Sands sees the future in artificial intelligence for the Hospitality industry.
"The benefits of AI and automation has given us greater insights and understanding of our business. It has helped us to become more efficient in managing our resources by being predictive. Because we have improved our forecasting abilities, we have made better decisions which allowed us to provide better services and lower business cost," Wilson said.
However, the hotelier does not see any AI ever replacing the human touch completely. Instead, it views technology only augmenting humans.
“As we are a high-touch business, our customers still want to interact with humans at the end of the day. Technology empowers our team members to deliver an engaging and personalized experience,” Wilson added.