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How City Experiences drove CX improvement with contact center AI

How City Experiences drove CX improvement with contact center AI

Dan Neufer, Training Manager at City Experiences, shares his experience before and after using Observe.AI.

The travel industry was one of the most affected sectors during the pandemic.

City Experiences represents an expansive portfolio of water- and land-based experiences. It includes City Cruises that operates dining, sightseeing and private events across 22 designations in the U.S., Canada and the UK, operates cruises on behalf of the National Park Service and the Niagara Parks Commission, and holds service contracts to provide ferry service to the Statue of Liberty National Monument and the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration, Alcatraz Island and Niagara Falls

At City Experiences, we went from gearing up for another busy summer, to everything shutting down basically overnight. Our contact center went from onsite to 100% virtual in a matter of days. Safe to say, it was a roller coaster transition.

And that move from onsite to remote was our biggest challenge: 

How do you virtually duplicate the contact center floor energy and employ the right tools to leverage into that personal environment?

As an engaging personality myself, I made this my number one priority.

A look at our operations pre-pandemic

Prior to the pandemic, our processes were manual and spreadsheet-based. We were scattered across different systems and services that really didn’t interact well with one another

This posed major challenges for us.

contact center manual operations

1. Spreadsheet-based

We were tracking and inputting every data point into our scoresheets. The data was then manually input into complex  spreadsheets with hundreds of formulae to calculate it. It was quite manual and we had to be careful that every agent’s percentage was correctly computed. 

2. Inefficient processes 

 Originally, we used a hybrid system— cloud solution for storing calls but the account maintenance was an internal responsibility. We didn’t have any dedicated account manager. So, in case of errors or discrepancies, we had to employ resources to figure out the point of error — was it the call system or the recording program?

3. Inconsistent call coverage

We weren’t able to monitor 100% of customer conversations. That meant we were missing out on the critical information on unrecorded calls. the calls that weren’t recorded would have critical information. The result was skewed data, legal liabilities, and of course, poor customer resolution for standing complaints.

In a nutshell, it was constant number crunching and manual labor. Not to mention the wastage of precious hours in figuring out areas of errors: what it is, where it is, and why calls aren’t being recorded for specific agents.

Our focus was in resolving technical issues, instead of delivering superior customer experience.

contact center QA efficiency increase

With the virtual contact center upon us, it quickly became apparent that City Experiences desperately needed a one stop shop for 100% call recordings, call scoring and coaching from the scored calls.

Driving improvement with AI

Like I said earlier in the post, we were using sixteen different tools to manage our contact center workflows. 

We began seeking out a contact center AI solution, and after seeing Observe.AI in action, we instantly fell in love with the product— it was exactly what the team needed. With the platform’s continual developments and growth, we were extremely excited.

I’d like to highlight five key features that differentiated Observe.AI from other platforms in the market. 

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1. Ease of implementation

It is often painful to migrate CCaaS platforms. The process is long, complex and almost never streamlined. It’s not an exaggeration when I say it takes a rocket scientist to set up and change a traditional on-premise solution.

During the implementation, you need to engage an army of tech resources. It’s a major reason why contact centers defer moving to newer technology and instead, continue using suboptimal platforms.

 But implementing Observe.AI was a refreshing change. It has an extremely modern framework, and that made implementation a breeze. 

Even for our agents, accessing Observe.AI was a simple toggle on. We didn't need a technical resource to get them rolling with Observe.AI. The easy integration moved the team’s focus from tedious backend processes to focusing entirely on achieving business outcomes using the platform.

The end-to-end onboarding on Observe.AI was focused on driving key business drivers at City Experiences. 

 The technological complexity was in the background and we got to focus only on business outcomes like reducing average handle time, improving our CSAT score and coaching agents.

Our conversations with the Observe.AI team were focused on transforming our agents from order takers to sales professionals, analyzing more calls, and successfully driving agent performance.

2. Moments

Moments is one of the best features on the Observe.AI platform. It has changed how we QA and evaluate our agent interactions.

What are Moments?

Moments capture instances within agent calls that hold business importance. Paired with Observe.AI’s superior transcription accuracy (> 85%), Moments uncover details that can seriously impact your business. 

Moments can be customized to fit certain parameters or expectations from agents as well. 

At City Experiences, we were able to centralise a group of calls and transparently analyse the reaction to this group of calls. Instead of just going through a giant pile of calls and randomly analysing the haystack, we can now find the needle effortlessly.

Let’s take a look at the impact we saw soon after implementing Observe.AI:

  1. Finding actionable insights
    Again if we jump back to the nature of the world for the past year, we were able to utilize the Moments to really pull out what our guests were asking about.
    For example, with Moments we could analyze the following:
  • How frequently did ‘covid’ come up on a call?
  • How frequently did the term ‘refund’ come up on a call?
  • How frequently did these different touch points come up on a call?  
  • How did the agent respond to them?
  1. Building faster evaluation process
    Moments narrowed down the calls for our quality assurance team to pinpoint key areas that were essential to the business. From following the script, using the right language or finding why exactly a call was escalated.
  2. Creating accurate insights
    When 100% of calls are being analyzed with a high transcription accuracy, we naturally feel more confident with the accuracy of the data.

3. Agent performance and coaching

We rely heavily on the insights extracted through Observe.AI to coach our agents with higher end results.

With agent performance and coaching, we schedule continuous coaching sessions with our agent, setting action plans and building a roadmap on areas of improvement with timelines. 

Doing all that inside one platform is incredible.

Part of the beauty of the tool is that you can schedule training but you can also train and coach agents on the fly. So you can run through a call and through the recording and analyse it. Then immediately offer feedback to your agents, from within the platform. The feedback loop is so fast, our agent performance automatically increased as a result and we saw more success on our calls.

We are actually driving agent performance with the coaching feature. The coaching calls are pre-scheduled, and coaches have instant access to all the previous feedback. 

Coaching tells the suit what to talk about, focuses the limited time on addressing the weaknesses and strengths of the agent and even creates peer-to-peer sessions.

The leaderboard tab shows how every agent is ranking on different parameters customised by the QA team. Instead of generalized coaching sessions, both the agent and the coaches can focus on areas of improvement.

4. KPI reporting

Observe.AI is basically a custom dashboard but extremely customised and personalised keeping the key business drivers in mind. 

So it tracks every standard KPI every contact center is going to care about:

  • What's the overall sentiment of the customers?
  • What’s the overall hold time violation?
  • Are they reading the right Disclosures?

Like all that bread and butter stuff comes right out of the one box. Again, we are quite confident about the accuracy of the data because of the initial transcription accuracy being so high. 

We can even customise it to anything, that's particular to our City Experiences. In these volatile times, this is one thing that’s quite important to us.

5. Customer support

In a CCaaS platform, there are hundreds of things going on at the same time. Not to mention, continued product developments can leave companies confused and lost when using the product.

Being a manual department, we were quite particular about getting ongoing support to maximise our output and grow as the product is improving. 

Once we hit the ground running with Observe.AI, we were assigned a customer success manager(CSM). And it has been brilliant! The CSM actually came out to talk to our team and helped us find the best ways to implement and leverage the platform. 

We also have continual group meetings where the CSM does bi-weekly check-ups, shares new details of the product, new feature developments, and shows us new ways to powerfully deliver a solid call to our guests.

The continued support is something we look forward to even today, while using Observe.AI.


We had two kinds of success after using Observe.AI— instant and long term. While instant got us excited about the product, the long term results showed how extremely integral Observe.AI is to our processes today. 

Let’s dive in.

Instant results

1. Faster evaluations

In just two weeks with Observe.AI, we evaluated 40% more calls than we did over the entire month using our old platform. This was when the team was just learning about the platform. The platform was that fast, user friendly and easier to find, evaluate and score calls.

2. Surfaced agent pain points

After onboarding, we created customised moments to track agent pain points. The product delivered exceptionally.

We were able to leverage and analyse the moments and pinpoint what was holding back the agent to deliver a solid call to our guest. It was a delight to see the insights on one dashboard and we immediately took a step back to reflect and streamline our processes.

3. More impactful coaching of agents

The data-driven results weren’t just for today. Instead of analysing random agent calls, we had access to 100% of their interactions. Now it wasn’t about comparing calls anymore but more about building a coaching roadmap for the agent. We had access to an agent’s strengths and points they continually missed across calls.

During the coaching sessions, we found the most pressing issues the agents needed to work on. One-on-one sessions were more personalised, effective, and more engaging now more than ever. With a roadmap set up for you, it was also easier to track progress. 

Long term results

1. Replicating contact center floor energy

Using Observe.AI, we get to replicate that same contact center floor energy with our agents thanks to almost real-time direct feedback.

Being remote, you’re not next to the agent listening to the calls and helping them in real-time. With agents no longer working together in large facilities, they can’t raise their hand anymore to ask for help, not overhear and learn from each other or get tips on how to improve.

But with Observe.AI, we've been able to leverage that kind of environment with continual tracking and replicate the in-office vibe. That’s a huge advantage from a long-term perspective.

2. Increased focus on QA

The ability to analyse 100% of customer conversations is so powerful  when making business decisions. We're seeing additional focus on the QA and coaching function to ensure that agents are all delivering consistent experience. 

Are agents verifying the customers correctly?
Are they being empathetic?
Are they providing branding disclosures?
Are they following protocol to drive real CSAT?

There's been a real focus on QA on these items to ensure it's being done at scale. 

3. Micro coaching

With 100% remote, we also saw a downward trend in employee engagement, specifically agent engagement. Our data report indicates that 42% of agents actually feel less engaged today than they did one year ago, pre-pandemic.

The thing we found was most productive in driving employee engagement was micro coaching.

We found ways to highlight the good things an agent did, pull out those exact moments from a haystack of calls where they absolutely nailed customer experience and highlight it to the whole team. It has completely transformed agent engagement and truly built trust and transparency across teams.

Looking forward

Observe.AI is not just a platform for our team. It has changed the way we look at CX. It has helped us shift our focus from resolving redundant technology issues to becoming truly customer focused. Empowering our teams with AI has completely evolved the CX landscape at City Experiences and we are ready for the future.

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Dan Neufer
Training Manager at City Experiences
LinkedIn profile
August 17, 2021

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