- Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts announced that it has exchanged more than 3.5 million messages since launching Four Seasons Chat in October 2017. The service recently added WhatsApp to the channels customers can use, alongside Facebook Messenger, WeChat, KakaoTalk, LINE, Apple Business Chat, SMS and more.
- Four Seasons Chat relies on human beings to converse with its customers. The service also translates more than 100 languages instantaneously, helping Four Seasons to have a response time that averages 90 seconds or less, according to its announcement.
- Guests can use Four Seasons Chat for restaurant recommendations and reservations, room service, making or changing golf or spa reservations and advice on nearby shopping, among other functions.
These days, it's rare for a company to boast about its efforts to offer customers a human touch from real people. Instead of automating its interactions with customers with a chatbot, Four Seasons is using mobile messaging to provide an additional conversation channel between employees and guests. It's one sign that chatbot technology hasn't evolved as much as brands would like, especially in the luxury market of customers who are willing to pay premium prices for better customer service.
But you can't stop progress. Broader trends indicate that chatbot usage is expected to grow as companies seek to cut costs. The technology is forecast to bring $11 billion in combined cost savings by 2023 for the retail, banking and healthcare industries as a replacement for customer service representatives, up from $6 billion in savings this year. The risk with adopting the technology is alienating customers, 40% of whom prefer speaking to a human because chatbots don't provide detailed answers and can be less helpful, according to a survey by enterprise software developer CGS. Four Seasons' chat service seeks to find middle ground between traditional customer service and the capabilities offered by chatbots.
Another survey found that U.S. consumers see travel chatbots as a viable way to improve travel booking. Two-thirds of those surveyed would find a chatbot useful (40%) or very useful (26%) in managing business and work travel plans, according to a survey by chatbot developer Humley. More than a third (37%) of U.S. consumers would prefer to deal with an intelligent chatbot when arranging travel plans or comparing booking options. About nine out of 10 (87%) of people would interact with a travel chatbot if it could save them time and money, the survey found.