Artificial intelligence has helped Cruise 1st “filter out the tire kickers” and increase the average profit per sale on its website by 47%.
AI firm Active OMG also claims to have grown Cruise 1st’s overall revenue by 3% and drive an 800% increase in lead capture, with 60% of the cruise agency’s customers who talked to its bot Ami signing up to newsletters.
Ami reads the Cruise 1st website in real-time and independently decides how to use the knowledge to achieve goals. Ami’s mission at Cruise 1st is to generate sales leads and provide customer support by interacting with Cruise 1st’s website visitors.
Cruise 1st has also seen its call centre conversion rate jump from 20% to 22% since it started using Ami, which it puts down to agents receiving calls later in the customer’s booking journey.
Simon Hoe, global head of digital and ecommerce for Cruise 1st, said: “Before we introduced Ami, many more customers called with straight forward questions. Advisors would answer questions and look to progress the booking. In many cases the customers would want to end the call to spend more time researching their holiday.
“We felt these consideration phase questions could be better served by Livechat or a chat bot. We tried using the live chat service that came with our CMS but it didn’t work well. Our agents were unable to respond to telephone calls as they were tied up with live chats. After further investigation we found that a lot of people were phoning because they couldn’t find what they were looking for. Our agents didn’t want general enquiries; they wanted sales calls.”
“We needed something to filter out the tire kickers. Cruises are a high-ticket item so there is a long research phase. We wanted customers to phone us when they were ready to purchase. We want customers to arrive at the call centre at a deeper stage of the sales funnel.”
“Ami handles the customers’ research. The always-on nature of Ami means we are there for customers around the clock. Ami handles hundreds of simultaneous conversations; enquiries which would otherwise have been blocking the telephone lines.”
Ami asks ‘trigger questions’ to understand the customer’s the intent, such as: Have you got a destination in mind? Have you got a budget in mind? Are you looking to book this week? Three green lights triggers a ‘triage intent’ prompting Ami to put the enquiry through to Cruise 1st’s sales team.
Hoe added: “Ami is like another member of the team and as such needs to be trained and educated. There is a learning curve, which is quicker than a human and she doesn’t ever make the same mistake twice. Ami has her own targets just like a person for customer contact and target rate. We had a few teething problems as a result of the extra leads with people waiting to be connected on the phone with no agents readily available. We resolved the telephony issues so that if someone asks to be connected Ami takes the number and calls them back when there is a person free.”
“Ami is now a valued member of our sales team. She is delivering tangible revenue to the business. I see conversational AI as a really cost effective way of driving incremental sales and improving customer service. We are getting a higher conversion rate from the call centre; overall it has gone up from 20% to 22% call to sale conversion. This has shown a business case to hire more staff to close more deals over the phone. In the media everyone thinks AI is going to get rid of jobs. In fact it has allowed us to man up.
“Introducing Ami has impacted the wider business. Ami is our virtual shopkeeper. The unintended consequence has been an overall conversion rate whether the lead origination channels are TV, direct mail or the website.”
Ami’s impact at Cruise 1st in numbers:
- 8x increase in lead capture with 60% opt-in
- 52.4% of customer open emails (versus 14.8% industry average)
- Unique click throughs of 13.9% (versus 1.59 industry average)
- 3% revenue growth as a percentage of overall business over the first two months of Ami being live.
- 3x direct return on investment.
- Profit per basket up 47%.
- Call to sale conversion rate has increased from 20% to 22%