The travel restrictions in many countries have eased. Hotels and group tours are filling up. The travel and hospitality industry were the worst-hit sectors during the pandemic.
The challenges of going through the lockdown. No more dining out, partying with friends, or even setting out on a staycation with family.
We have come a long way. Even though most countries around the world have lifted 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.
The pandemic has changed the hiring landscape in nearly every industry, including hospitality. Now that the worst of the pandemic is over, the industry needs to thrive with the highest focus on customer experience (CX).
Leaders from the hospitality industry are well aware that compassionate customer service is the key to creating an excellent guest experience and winning their trust and loyalty.
Silent Pitfalls of Customer Experience
- A New Generation of Well-Informed Customers
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 the one offered by an online travel agency, 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.
- Bad Experiences Shared by Customers
One bad experience is all it takes for customers to take to social media and vent about their negative experiences.
It is also true that customers are not so driven when it comes to sharing positive experiences and need to be goaded with enticing add-ons or coupons to share one.
Customers expect instant gratification and to accommodate customers’ on-the-fly requests, businesses need to have holistic visibility of their entire journey to craft top-notch experiences.
- Data Collection and Personalisation
Most hospitality businesses have marked their presence on various digital channels to actively engage with their customers and offer personalised services. However, this is not the case.
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 to fulfil customer expectations.
- Disconnected with Customer Service Touchpoints
Multi-channel communication hailed the pre-pandemic era.
However, the landscape has seen unprecedented changes. Most businesses are out of touch with how they handle customer enquiries across individual touchpoints.
To deliver great customer experiences, the hospitality industry needs to first provide its employees with the resources they need to thrive in any situation.
An increased focus on CX opportunities as we head into 2023 and beyond will be crucial to boosting team productivity, performance, and engagement.
Let’s take a look at some important pillars of how the hospitality industry can reboot customer experience with an omnichannel transformation.
Roadmap to Experiential Transformation
- Deliver Proactive Customer Service
Having an online presence is just half the battle. The other half is taking a more proactive, consultative approach for online visitors. Rather than depending on conversion rate optimisation (CRO) techniques, have a smart greeting function to welcome visitors.
While some visitors prefer to browse alone to find the best deals, others will appreciate you asking questions to better understand what they are looking for, and their requirements.
The most pleasant moment is when the visitor is greeted in the native language. When the customer-facing agent speaks the customers’ language, this shows the efforts the business is willing to make to satisfy their needs.
A visitor clicks on the live chat link below the smart greeting, for example. From the enquiry window, your sales agent knows the visitor browsed a cosy resort.
When it comes to the hospitality industry, the customer experience begins right from the moment of discovery and the first interaction. Businesses need to proactively engage with visitors to convert them into paying customers.
- Connect Customers with the Right Experiences
Bridge the gap between telecom and digital experiences, by unifying all touchpoints on a single platform.
Businesses can create frictionless and contextual experiences by effortlessly switching between social media channels, emails, SMS, video, and phone to adapt responses.
Post-pandemic customers are looking for live human support on their preferred channel of communication. Go further and provide them with real-time, humanised experiences at every touchpoint backed by customer intent and sentiment data from a unified dashboard.
Some visitors are hesitant to move forward, in this instance for the cosy resort booking because of some safety measures of the theme park.
It takes a split second for them to leave a chat and never return if their needs are not 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 the visitor can make an informed purchase decision, your sales agent even turns the chat into a video call and offers a virtual tour of the resort.
Conversational AI capabilities can turn the live chat into a live video tour to seamlessly assist customers through the booking process. This will expedite the decision-making.
- Humanise Customer Relationships in a Digital World
The hospitality industry needs to transform its customer experience to emulate real-world, personalised services.
This can be achieved by using smart capabilities such as sticky routing. Sticky routing empowers businesses to direct returning customers to the same customer support agents who attended to their previous enquiries.
Let’s say the customer who booked the resort returns to your website again after a few weeks. This time, the customer enquiries about the availability of corporate booking packages for the company’s annual event. The customer is then directed to the same agent who attended to the previous enquiries.
Intelligent routing and binding rules act as tunnels to ensure customers receive personalised service and help in establishing efficient workflows.
- Adherence and Compliance with Data Security
Keeping data secure, private, and safe from breaches takes precedence when businesses decide to digitalise their traditional processes.
Currently, many businesses are limited by the strict regulations implemented by the governing bodies on outbound telecom communication services, which impedes their ability to effectively use calls and text messaging services.
Customers’ details are a wealth to a business.
They are highly confidential. Empowering the business with a robust cloud-based unified communication solution is highly essential.
To connect customers with businesses securely and offering data retention capabilities following the government regulatory requirements is critical.
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% of millennials share their travel experience on social media
- Approximately 90% of customers are willing to share their behavioural data if it can lead to them being offered an affordable brand experience
- 80% of customers feel more emotionally connected to a business when customer service solves their problem
- Sales in the leisure tourism market are projected to grow at 19.5% CAGR
- 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a superior customer experience
- Customers who are loyal to a business spend 67% more than new customers
Look forward and understand your customers better
To deliver on ambitious aspirations, the hospitality industry needs a deep understanding of its customers. The needs and expectations are constantly shifting.
With the right omnichannel CX solution, 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.
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