Customer Service

How James Villas Reduced First Response Time by 46% With AI Based Automation

Ben Goodey
Ben Goodey
November 5, 2021
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In a recent interview with Johannes Ganter, Head of CRM & Digital Transformation at James Villas, he shared the details behind an innovation project we've been doing together. 

The impact the project has had on both company and customer has been a fascinating insight into the power of recent innovations in AI for customer service.

The project

James Villas is one of the biggest brands in villa holidays—with over 3,000 managed properties in 60 countries. They're ambitious; the company has a strict growth plan that relies upon delivering exceptional customer experiences using operationally efficient, tech-driven processes.

In the travel industry, CX is also particularly important. Holidays are a peak emotional time, and expectations are high for those few days off work each year.

For that reason, James Villas focused their efforts on building a better customer service experience for those at critical point in the customer journey—prioritising inbound customer requests for those who have arrived at their destination, their holiday has already started, but something was causing an issue.

"The challenge was to prioritize tickets in a way, so that urgent cases were handled as quick as possible so that our customers could travel at ease."

Customers already on holiday have little wiggle room for things to go wrong, so when things do, James Villas found that they could boost CSAT and overall customer experience by applying special attention here.

Before we started to work together, James Villas found the prioritisation of new conversations hard to manage. The process was manual and time-consuming—requiring leadership to sift through individual tickets and filter them to priority inboxes—providing quick responses was difficult and customers often got lost in the overwhelm of tickets.

After researching their options, Johannes and his team started looking into natural language processing technology that would be able to read the complexity of customer service conversations and automatically identify customer’s at critical points in their journey and triage them to the priority queue in Zendesk.

They discovered SentiSum’s real-time customer conversation categorization engine and reacherd out to us. The James Villas team were impressed with both the accuracy of the technology and the highly collaborative approach we take with customers.

“We're very impressed by the technology itself, but even more so by the relentless effort the team puts in to support our specific use case. Whenever I talk to the team and mention a new initiative, or feature they are straight on it and help me draw the right conclusions.”

Together, we identified which customers, topics and touchpoints should be prioritized first, and SentiSum's expert AI analytics team set about building a fully customised machine-learning-based algorithm to identify critical conversations and auto-tag them with the topic.

Every new SentiSum customer goes through a 30-day free product experience, which includes us building a fully customised AI so the customer can test the platform as it really would be for them.

“The trial was great to analyse our data, teach the algorithm and get to know the tool itself. Even though the trial was a bit too short (4 weeks go extremely quick), we gained enough trust in the software to continue our journey.”

‍Once trust was established between the James Villas team and the software, we officially rolled out.

how it works, sentisum tagging and prioritisation
Overview of SentiSum's ticket prioritisation system

Results

Both sides were thrilled with the results we saw.

“As a business we have a very strict growth plan and are very ambitious with our future targets. We are convinced that we can only assure a smooth operational process by making use of smart tech. Sentisum will play a vast role in our ambitions to become more efficient in our customer care processes, without reducing our service levels.”

On the one hand, SentiSum now takes care of the heavy lifting for the James Villas customer service team. The team can now focus on what they do best: making sure customers are happy.

The improvement in operational efficiency found through process automation is a big win, saving both time and cost.

On the other hand, Johannes and his team used SentiSum to move the needle on some critical KPIs.

KPIs achieved with James Villas. Like -46% first reply time.

In the weeks after implementation, James Villas’ customers began to see improvements in their experience. First reply time dropped by 46%, and overall resolution time fell by 51%.

Our collaboration with James Villas was a win-win-win. For customers, a faster response during important moments. For agents, less repetitive and time-consuming tasks to do. For the company, a more efficient operation and happier, more loyal customers.

If you’d like to learn more about how SentiSum could work together with your team, why not reach out to us to start a conversation? Email the SentiSum founder at sharad@sentisum.com.

Q&A—Working With SentiSum to Reduce First Reply Time

Read the verbatim Q&A with Johannes Ganter below.

What challenges were you having before SentiSum?

Due to Covid-19 the travel industry had an influx in support tickets that made the management of our support operations extremely challenging. The team struggled with customers reaching out due to uncertainty, frustration, as well as necessary cancellations and travel date changes.

The challenge was to prioritize tickets in a way, so that urgent cases were handled as quick as possible so that our customers could travel at ease.

Unfortunately that was not always possible due to the sheer ticket volume, as well as complexity of the cases.

In what ways are you using SentiSum Tags in Zendesk?

Sentisum helps us to organise our tickets and triage them to the right team member with the necessary skills to solve a ticket with the best possible outcome.

The tech recognises urgent tickets and thanks to the seamless Zendesk integration we can then apply specific business rules to trigger the right processes.

How was your experience of the free trial and what did you get out of it?

The trial was great to analyse our data, teach the algorithm and get to know the tool itself. Due to the content structure of our tickets, it was quite challenging to train the system to focus on specific aspects, but over time things became more and more accurate.

The very hands-on approach of the Sentisum team was extremely impressive from day 1. Even though the trial was a bit too short (4 weeks go extremely quick), we gained enough trust in the software to continue our journey.

Would you describe a few of the reasons you decided to buy our product? Were there any high-level initiatives or goals that prompted the decision to buy?

We're very impressed by the technology itself, but even more so by the relentless effort the team puts in to support our specific use case. Whenever I talk to the team and mention a new initiative, or feature they are straight on it and help me draw the right conclusions. The future roadmap of Sentisum looks incredibly exciting too. For instance, we can't wait to integrate translation features [these features are now live] and serve our sharply increasing international customer base.

What’s the impact been on the team? And yourself?

The team can focus on their job, which is to make sure our customers are happy. Sentisum takes care of the heavy lifting by making sure we assign the right cases to our customer success specialists.

How does the SentiSum project fit into your overall vision as a company? Is CX and customer-centricity part of your ethos?

More than any other industry we're dependent on the satisfaction of our customers. Holiday makers are very unforgiving if the best time of their year turns into a logistical nightmare. Even though we can't control the outcome of every single holiday experience, we've got to give our absolute best to keep interruptions at a minimum and help our customers whenever it is needed.

As a business we have a very strict growth plan and are very ambitious with our future targets. We are convinced that we can only assure a smooth operational process, by making use of smart tech. Sentisum will play a vast role in our ambitions to become more efficient in our customer care processes, without reducing our service levels.

Any final bits of advice to others considering SentiSum?

When discussing your pain points don't leave anything out of the conversation. There's a good chance the team has some smart product features at hand, or is willing to investigate a solution.

Block enough time in your calendar during the implementation process. It will be totally worth it further down the line.

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If you’d like to learn more about how SentiSum could work together with your team, why not reach out to us to start a conversation? Email the SentiSum founder at sharad@sentisum.com.

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