While the past year has brought on significant challenges for the hospitality industry, a defining moment has been the collective move to upscale the service experience while meeting consumers’ demands for safe contactless experiences. In overcoming strict social distancing requirements and heightening customer expectations, hoteliers have opened up new channels for guest engagement while creating more seamless, consistent, and personalized hotel experiences.
And this shift has been overwhelmingly successful thus far. With the pandemic increasing the already pervasive issue of burnout amongst customer service teams around the world, hospitality brands have notably adopted digital communication tools to connect with customers through their preferred channels. Meanwhile, others have risen to the occasion with the adoption of contactless check-in procedures that place the health and safety of their guests and staff first.
In this five-part blog series inspired by our recent 5 Contactless Hotel Technology Trends for 2021 report, we are exploring the overwhelming benefits that contactless technology provides hotels and other hospitality brands, and how they can leverage them as an extension and enhancement to human-focused hospitality in 2021 and beyond.
Having already examined the value of contactless tech as a powerful tool for gathering real-time feedback in our first installment, we will now dive into trend #2: how guest messaging can stitch together an omnichannel customer journey, collecting isolated interactions into actionable insight for a consistent and remarkable guest experience.
Leveraging Intelligent Messaging as a Lifeline in the Contactless Era
Of course, the resilience of hospitality brands across the globe despite the massive strains and challenges they face has been truly remarkable. While there are many things that have been pivotal along the way, contactless technologies like guest messaging have become nothing short of a lifeline for staff, enabling them to meet customers across the wide variety of channels that they’ve turned to since the onset of the pandemic, and collect critical feedback across the customer lifecycle.
As we discussed in part one of this blog series, this is something that has a tangible business impact when done right, offering brands the chance to drive loyalty, reduce churn, and upsell new products and services. But the truth is, hoteliers have long relied on historic data gathered through surveys to power future decision-making. In an omnichannel customer journey, however, staff can capture real-time signals that help them identify the root causes of ongoing customer issues, opportunities for improvement, and even proactively see what customers are telling them,
For example, whether it be at check-in, through concierge services, when addressing housekeeping needs or delivering room service, intelligent messaging has empowered hotel staff to foster more personalized relationships and engage with guests more often so that they can develop a deeper understanding of what matters most to the customer.
And when you consider what the hospitality industry is famed for — its mastery of premium-level, high-touch experiences — how they’ve used guest messaging to make guests feel connected throughout a now low-touch journey has become both more impressive and imperative, as hotels operate in a market where savvy competitors are constantly raising the bar for CX.
Understanding Customers at Every Touchpoint
What an omnichannel customer experience ultimately empowers brands to do is seamlessly connect the offline and online hotel experience and gain deeper insights into the behaviors of their customers at more touchpoints. With this in mind, it’s hardly a surprise that many hotel owners are increasingly turning to intelligent messaging to communicate with guests much earlier in the customer journey — starting even before they arrive on site and continuing the relationship until after they leave the property. This is something that has enormous benefits for all parties involved.
Consumers, for example, enjoy the speed and ease of communicating by text, which in turn increases their comfortability to proactively reach out to staff if the need arises. Recent Medallia Zingle research found that 80% of consumers think it’s easier to communicate via text or mobile app for contactless service, while an additional 62% say that they’d communicate with a business more if they could text message with them.
Meanwhile, hoteliers are given the means to capture guest signals after every service interaction, as well as the ability to leverage these insights to boost the customer experience they provide. With a clearer picture of how their customers are doing in-the-moment, hotels can take immediate action to improve service where necessary. With stats showing that 88% of travelers filter out hotels with an average rating of below three stars, and 79% will read at least six to 12 TripAdvisor reviews before choosing a hotel, the value in these cross-channel interactions cannot be understated.
After all, better customer service is directly correlated with bottom-line success revenue and organizational health, making hospitality’s example one that all industries should follow as they look to pave the path towards recovery and sustainable success.
Closing the Loop in Guest Communications
With COVID-19 leaving such long-lasting marks on consumer behavior, consistent service has never been more important in driving customer loyalty. And while this omnichannel age can make it more challenging for businesses to deliver these experiences across a wider variety of touchpoints, contactless communication enables them to sift out important customer data points that empower them to turn isolated interactions into a consistent experience.
As McKinsey says, customer journeys are not linear but a series of handoffs between traditional and digital channels that can vary significantly by customer type. An effective strategy therefore requires an in-depth understanding of what customers truly want. For example, if a customer reaches out to hotel staff using a mobile app, a single-agent communication tool makes these interactions visible to entire service teams, thus providing them with the tools they need to address their request with context and personalization. It’s this idea of stitching together the guest journey that is so powerful, with hotels and their customers able to pick conversations back up after they go on pause.
The reality is, delivering these types of omnichannel experiences is vital for guest satisfaction, and is arguably the only way for hospitality brands to meet demands for excellent guest experience, and address the new complexities that affect their industry. In this landscape that’s dominated by everything touchless, the ability to stay connected in the moment can bring greater rewards than ever before. And hotels across the globe are setting the standard for all businesses to follow.
As we continue to see the value of contactless technology for the return to travel in 2021, check back soon for our third blog installment in which we will explore Trend #3 — using AI and personalization to take guest experience to the next level. To learn more about Medallia Zingle, schedule some time to talk to a Hospitality expert today.