Arguably one of the worst hit sectors during the pandemic was the travel and hospitality industry. Following the safety curbs effected by the government bodies around the world, people shut themselves indoors to steer clear of the Covid-19 virus. This meant, no more dining out, partying with your friends, or embarking on a staycation with your loved ones.
- Silent Assassins of Customer Experience
- Example: How CX Solutions Can Help Improve Guest Relations
- Key Trends Driving the Hospitality Industry
Hoteliers bore the economical brunt brought about by the lockdown in different ways. Some transformed their establishments into a quarantine facility, while others opened their doors to house exhausted Doctors and Nurses to keep their lights on. Many were not so fortunate and had to shut shop.
Even though most of the countries around the have eased their travel restrictions, people are still apprehensive about booking a flight ticket, pre-paying for a hotel booking, or even dining at their favourite restaurant. But that doesn’t mean people are not keen to go out again.
Leaders from hospitality industry are well aware that compassionate customer service is the key to create excellent guest experience and winning their trust and loyalty.
Silent Assassins of Customer Experience
1. Customers Expect the Unexpected
The post-pandemic traveller is savvier than before and has higher expectations from businesses. The new age customer is smart enough to not make a booking online before searching all avenues for the best price available, and if by chance the price on the official website is higher than then one offered by an OTA (online travel agencies), then that business is likely to see a dent in their revenue. From searching and booking the experience to sharing stories about the experience, customers expect businesses to go over and beyond in fulfilling their expectations for ‘something different and hip’ to be considered a full-course 5-star service.
2. Public Shaming by CustomersOne bad experience is all it takes for customers to take to social media and vent about their negative experience. It is also true that customers are not so driven when it comes to sharing positive experience and need to be goaded with enticing add-ons or coupons to share positive experience. Customer expect instant gratification and in order to accommodate customers on-the-fly requests, businesses need to have a holistic visibility of their entire journey in order to craft top-notch experience.
3. Linking CX Initiatives to Business ValueMost businesses measure success of their CX initiatives in isolation. Leaders fail to establish a direct link between their CX initiatives and business objectives. When leaders are unclear about the transformation journey that results from delivering better customer experience, the CX efforts are likely to fail and reflect in poor sales numbers.
4. Data Collection and Personalisation of ServicesWhile most hospitality businesses have marked their presence on various digital channels to actively engage with their customers and offer personalised services, they are struggling to do so. Their efforts are hindered by the lack of availability to collect data from various distributed systems and use this data to fulfil customer expectations. When customer data is distributed across multiple systems that have no way of integrating into one, centralised destination, it leaves the customer facing teams grasping at straws in order to fulfil customer expectations.
5. Out of Touch with Customer Service Touchpoints
There was a time when multi-channel communication was considered a thing, but like everything under the Sun, the need of the hour is omnichannel, not multi-channel. Most businesses are out of touch with the way in which they handle customer enquiries across individual touchpoints. Customer experience is an amalgamation of their entire journey of the buying process and trying to address their issues without understanding how the pieces fit together is like chasing after a bus wearing heels.
Mr. Addams is keen to go on a short vacation with his family over the weekend but is undecided on the place to destination.
|While scrolling through his Instagram feed Mr. Addams clicks on an Ad that’s promoting a cosy cabin resort, tucked away deep within a forest that’s not too far from his hometown. He is redirected to the landing page and is immediately greeted by a smart widget.
||When it comes to hospitality industry, customer experience begins right from the moment of discovery and the first interaction. Businesses need to proactively engage with their website visitors in order to convert them into paying customers.|
|Mr. Addams is keen to book the cabin but is also concerned about safety measures taken by the resort management to keep the wild animals at bay.
Upon initiating a conversation via the chat widget, Mr. Addams is pleasantly surprised when he is greeted in his native language by Flintstone, the live support agent.
|When customer facing agents speak the customers’ language, it shows the efforts that the business is willing to make to satisfy their customers’ needs. This lays a solid foundation for building long last relationship between the establishment and the customers.|
|Flintstone already knows that Mr. Addams is interested to make a booking but is also concerned about his family’s safety from his browsing history and quickly shares the guide detailing the safety measures put in place for their guests’ safety.||It takes a split second for customers to leave a chat and never return if they feel their needs are not being addressed optimally. The ability to share files within the chat widget ensures that the chain of conversation does not get broken and empowers the agent to keep the interaction contextual.
|To ensure Mr. Addams can make an informed purchase decision, Flintstone even turns the chat into a video call and offers a virtual tour of the property.||Conversational AI capabilities can turn the live chat into a live video tour to seamlessly assist guests through the booking process to expedite a transparent decision-making process and aid in improving workflow process.
|After processing Mr. Addams’s booking, Flintstone immediately sends him a thank you email with the recorded video, exclusive welcome coupons for a relaxing spa session, and his direct chat and call link for any further assistance.
He then proceeds to mark Mr. Addams’s as a VIP customer under #FamilyBooking label.
|Labelling customer enquiries helps in centralising the knowledge repository that can in turn be used by other internal team such as marketing, sales, and product development experts to improve services.|
SIX MONTHS LATER
|Mr. Addams clicks on the chat link from his email, and the widget immediately routes him to Flintstone once again for personalised support.
||Sticky routing empowers businesses to direct returning customers to the same customer support agents who attended their previous enquiries. Intelligent routing and binding rules act as tunnels to ensure customers receive personalised service and helps in establishing efficient workflows.
|Pleased with his previous experience, Mr. Addams wishes to enquire about the availability of corporate booking packages for his team’s annual outdoor event.||Your chat widget has the capability to be more than just a communication tool. It serves as a loyalty building platform, backed by the widget’s Lightweight CRM, which helps to gain a wholesome perspective of the customer’s journey through a booking process.
|Flintstone connects Mr. Addams to Wilma, the corporate booking manager, who in turn converts the chat into a video call and presents a few ideas for team-bonding activities, on screen.||The capability to add team members to an ongoing conversation makes sure that there are no loopholes in the booking process. Agents can simulate in-person experience by seamlessly collaborating over video calls and sharing screen to present important information.
|After successfully closing Mr. Addams’s enquiry, Flintstone updates the enquiry label to ‘Corporate Booking’ and quickly sends the team-building activities brochure along with an invitation for corporate membership.||Turning a casual customer into a brand ambassador is a long game. But it doesn’t have to be a hard one. By syncing your front-end data with CRM to allow the data to flow seamlessly between your systems and teams, you can empower your team to create experiences for various phases of customer’s journey.
Let’s take a look at some key trends that emerged from the lockdown and are primed to change the face of the hospitality industry in coming times.
Key Trends Driving the Hospitality Industry
If you are wondering about the forces that are driving the hospitality industry after coming out of the pandemic, these numbers would make you sit up:
- 97% millennials share their travel experience on social media
- Approximately 90% customers are willing to share their behavioural data if it can lead to them being offered an affordable brand experience
- 80% customers feel more emotionally connected to a business when customer service solves their problem
- Sales in the bleisure tourism market is projected to grow at 19.5% CAGR
- 86% customers are willing to pay more for a superior customer experience
- Customers who are loyal to a business spend 67% more than new customers
1. Holistic Guest Experience
Businesses are going over and beyond in offering a wholesome experience to their guests. Hotels are offering more than just ‘lodging and dining’ on their premises. Coming out of the pandemic, Hoteliers have come to embrace the fact that their customers will have a greater focus on their health and wellbeing. Many businesses have started laying greater emphasis on the physical and psychological well-being of their guests by having free sessions for yoga, meditation, etc. on their premises.
2. Streamlining Guest Experience
Coming out of the pandemic, leaders from the hospitality industry are now more focussed on upgrading and transforming their scattered legacy systems to a centralised data-led system that can help in training their employees to deliver delightful customer experience and create hyper-personalised sales opportunities using real-time customer interaction data.
3. Digitalised Guest Experience
Contactless experience is here to stay, and it is not just limited to the hotel or ticket booking; from planning, researching, to making the booking, and leaving a review of the entire experience, the customers are experiencing your service on their hand-held device before they actually get to do so physically. Hotels or restaurants may offer the best cuisine and services in the world, but it won’t help much if these businesses are not engaging their customers in a dialogue on the digital channels frequented by them.
4. Glocal Guest Experience
Ever since most of the countries closed their borders, local discoveries have seen an uptick. Close to home travel, nature-based experiences, and rural tourism have been driving domestic tourism in most countries. While international tourism will continue to grow exponentially in coming years, domestic tourism drives the recovery of the tourism sector after being hit by the pandemic induced lockdown.
Armed with the right omnichannel CX solution such as CINNOX, businesses can offer secure and personalised experiences to their guests while eliminating loopholes from disjointed touchpoints. Businesses are paving the path to a brighter future by making efforts to enhance their relationships by proactively engaging with their customers on channels of their choosing.
Now’s the time to act and win your customers’ loyalty.
Give your business the CINNOX advantage!