Accor Plus drives more revenue with a conversational strategy

Accor is one of the world’s largest hospitality networks, offering premium travel experiences and a loyalty subscription program, Accor Plus. A desire to improve its customer journey led the company to implement a more flexible, omnichannel CX system with Zendesk. Since using the Zendesk bot and optimizing the help center with self-service options, Accor Plus has achieved a 20 percent increase in customer satisfaction and a 20 percent increase in revenue from digital sales.

Accor Plus

“We are able to drive more reporting with Zendesk and show executive leadership that support is a revenue-generating center, in addition to improving customer satisfaction and member engagement.”

Christopher Douglas

Director of Member Services, Pacific at Accor Plus

“Zendesk has improved the agent experience by leaps and bounds. The workflows are easier and more intuitive, so agents can quickly view member interactions across multiple channels and personalize every conversation.”

Christopher Douglas

Director of Member Services, Pacific at Accor Plus

Accor Plus HQ

Singapore

Company founded

1994

Accor Headquarters

Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Started Using Zendesk

2020

+352%

Improved response time

+20%

Increased inbound revenue (digital sales)

+220%

Improved resolution time

11.9 FTE

Savings due to self-service (est)

One of the largest hospitality networks in the world, Accor is shaping the future of travel by offering unique experiences in hotels, resorts, and residencies across 110 countries. Members in the Asia Pacific region can also join Accor Plus, a loyalty subscription program providing access to exclusive travel, dining, and lifestyle benefits at more than 1,000 hotels in 20 countries.

Creating premium travel experiences calls for reliable communication and trusted partnerships. As Accor Plus’s Director of Member Services in the Pacific, Christopher Douglas is tasked with designing the customer experience strategy and overseeing support teams across the company’s Pacific region. To that end, Douglas has spent the past four years at Accor Plus driving a cultural change that puts members at the heart of every decision, from the executive level on down.

“Member services is forging a new path by using best practices to craft and implement a customer-centric strategy,” says Douglas. “We wanted to invest in a CX system that could drive efficiency and productivity, while creating an exceptional omnichannel conversational experience to meet customers where they are.”

After years of relying on traditional phone and email channels and seeing ticket volumes increase year over year, Accor Plus was ready for a case management solution that integrated voice support and freed up agents from manual ticketing work. The company decided that Zendesk offered the most complete package with features that could scale with business growth and improve customer satisfaction.

Personalizing conversations at scale

To make the transition easier, Accor Plus held workshops with members from each team to ensure that there would be Zendesk champions already on the floor. Douglas explains, “We used Assist professional services for Zendesk implementation to meet our goals: integrating more tools that drive efficiency and gaining flexibility to adjust our workflows for a better customer journey.”

Today the team uses Zendesk to create an omnichannel conversational experience over email, web, help center, as well as social through Facebook and WhatsApp. A WhatsApp pilot in India was quite successful and the company now offers multilingual support in several Asian countries with their most recent launch in Vietnam.

Douglas is passionate about creating a true customer first experience that meets them where they are and provides them the personalized service they need.

Additionally, Accor Plus has integrated its telephony solution, Talk Partner Edition, with Zendesk using the open source platform, Asterix. Having a flexible CX platform also gives agents the power to pull information from Netsuite and generate user data in Zendesk.

This integration from the Zendesk app store allows Accor Plus agents to get a single view of the customer and gives agents the context they need to provide better customer experience to all their members across countries.

“Zendesk has improved the agent experience by leaps and bounds, providing more visibility than ever before,” says Douglas. “The workflows are easier and more intuitive, so agents can quickly view member interactions across multiple channels and personalize every conversation.” With detailed information at their fingertips and messaging across social, web, and mobile, Accor agents no longer need to navigate multiple screens for simple tasks.

Accor

A smart solution for low-touch, high-volume tickets

On average, the Accor Plus team resolves 44 percent of AI tickets using the web widget, 29 percent using web forms, and 27 percent using email. One of Douglas’ top priorities was optimizing the help center for customers seeking a quick and easy answer on low-touch, high-volume tickets.

Since rolling out Zendesk, the team has been able to use content queues and promoted articles to get information out quickly to customers. In fact, Accor help center articles have generated more ticket views than any other channel, resulting in a 300 percent increase in views year over year since 2020 and an 86 percent increase from 2021 to 2022.

“We’ve been successful using the Zendesk knowledge base to shift support volume away from traditional channels like email and web forms. Our web widget volume has increased by 200 percent year over year,” says Douglas.

Most of the 70 Accor Plus employees that use Zendesk are support agents, including a team of 25 in Australia and a team of 30 in India. Accor was able to do a significant amount of customization in Zendesk for the initial setup and optimization of its multi-language help center and workflows. According to Douglas, “One benefit of Zendesk is the ability to change workflows quickly at an operational level, as opposed to sitting in an IT environment.”

Powered by Zendesk optimizations, Accor Plus has achieved a 246 percent increase year over year in self-service using the knowledge base, along with an estimated 11.9 FTE savings.

Customer experience as a profit center

By creating these new dynamic customer experiences with the Zendesk CX platform, Accor Plus has been able to transform its CX team from what has traditionally been seen as a cost center to a revenue center.

For instance, by placing the right triggers on the right pages and creating macros, agents can be more productive and customize their support to members.

Using data gathered in Zendesk, the team is able to highlight the number of membership renewals and sales that are processed through inbound channels. “The CX system has opened up exciting new revenue opportunities since we can monitor conversions from customers that have engaged with live agents,” explains Douglas. “We are able to drive more reporting with Zendesk and show executive leadership that support is a revenue-generating center, in addition to improving customer satisfaction and member engagement.”

Robust reporting from the Zendesk platform also allows Accor to actively measure customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores and customer stickiness.

Accor has seen a 20 percent increase in customer satisfaction scores and a 20 percent increase in revenue from its new digital sales channel. These promising results have empowered the company to scale up in different countries and regions.

“Demonstrating ROI to the company and showing that customer experience is a profit center was a huge win,” says Douglas.

Improving agent response time by 352 percent with AI

As social messaging has become a popular service channel throughout Asia, Accor Plus’ messaging volume through Whatsapp has noticeably picked up in India, Australia, and Singapore. As he looks to the future, Douglas has been upgrading to messaging wherever he can.

Introducing automation through the Zendesk bot has helped Accor enhance its customer experience, by providing support outside of business hours. Triggers can be used to capture simple questions and encourage self-service on the web, allowing the team to deflect around 20 percent of tickets.

Accor Plus is also looking forward to introducing automated flows through WhatsApp to engage with members outside of business hours to further up-level support.

Douglas explains, “Automated and asynchronous messaging creates a more efficient mindset. Using Zendesk macros empowers agents to work on multiple channels at once while waiting for responses.” Accor has recorded a 352 percent improvement in response time and a 220 percent improvement in resolution time since rolling out the Zendesk bot on its web widget and email.

Flexible Zendesk workflows have also made it easy for Accor to expand a “follow the sun” model for support, which allows issues to be handled and passed between offices in different time zones for close to round-the-clock service.

After six months of success using automation within messaging in a few countries, the team is already thinking about its next moves to transition fully to messaging and integrate the bot with its Facebook Messenger app. Accor Plus is also on track to integrate more channels, such as Line and WeChat in the coming months.