Just how much does customer service matter to today’s customers? For companies within the hospitality sector, great customer service has always been an evident contributor toward customer retention and encouraging future reservations.
But in recent years, an excellent approach to customer service has become the single most important factor for customers in the decision-making process. Some research shows that satisfied customers have a 60% to 70% chance of returning to make future purchases, while an astounding 97% of consumers are inclined to tell others about your business when they experience excellent customer service.
These numbers indicate that customer service helps you maintain a solid base of loyal guests while simultaneously enabling your business to convert new customers through a reliable word-of-mouth network.
To match the growing demand from hospitality success teams to improve their customer service and experience, many organizations have started to more fully integrate technology in their efforts to drive higher satisfaction rates. Recent years have seen widespread accessibility of these technologies, along with greater willingness from customers to book their stays with tech-savvy organizations.
To understand how technology will continue to drive the relationship between hospitality providers and those they serve, let’s look at some of the most pressing trends available today.
In 2017, 88% of adults in the United States preferred to schedule their hotel stays through the internet as opposed to offline booking methods, and that number has likely only increased more recently. To match this overwhelming interest in online reservations, bookings, and other arrangements, many businesses have placed a large emphasis on customer interactions that happen through the web.
Imagine that you are one of your customers and you are halfway through the booking process when you realize you have a question. Instead of sending an email and waiting for a response, that customer could engage with a chatbot, an automation technology that can integrate with your website to provide accessible answers for your users instantly.
As chatbots have become more advanced, their capabilities have expanded from simple tasks—like responding with that day’s office hours—to more complex inquiries—such as completing a reservation.
Chatbots and other messaging tools are often the first to be mentioned in conversations around web-based communication.
- But contrary to popular perception, the prevalence of conversing with customers through the internet expands beyond written communication like messaging, emailing, and business text messaging.
For instance, VoIP is a communication technology that connects phone users through the internet, as opposed to a traditional, wired telephone network. For customer support teams,
VoIP (or Voice over Internet Protocol) is well-suited to handle a high capacity of incoming customer calls so that you can assist multiple guests at once. Because it is the software you can install on a computer, many VoIP systems easily sync with your customer relationship databases to give callers a more personalized experience.
Facial recognition has gradually emerged in consumer markets, but its implementation in smartphones, laptops, and other personal devices has made the general public more receptive to this otherwise uncharted technology. Facial recognition technology works by detecting a face with a camera, identifying that person’s identifying nodal points, and then validating that face pattern’s unique coding with an existing database.
As facial detection technology becomes more accurate, it has become a valuable step in any validation process—including everything from identifying shoplifters, purchasing age-restricted items like alcohol, and keeping public schools secure.
For hotel customer service, facial recognition is being used to provide a more efficient check-in process. Customers can engage with facial recognition tools to certify that they are indeed the person who reserved a room. This also allows larger businesses, which may have multiple locations or several employees attending the desk, to quickly identify guests who in the past have caused trouble or disrupted the experience of your other customers.
Even more advanced, facial recognition helps hospitality organizations reward repeat buyers with incentive programs. So long as that individual is registered in their database, adding promotional points, coupons or other recognition is as simple as that person presenting themselves at the front desk.
You might find it counterintuitive, but there are times when less direct customer service enhances the purchase experience. While there will always be a demand for businesses to provide human support for their prospective and current customers, many of today’s consumers opt for a customer experience that they can complete entirely on their own. This is called self-service customer experience.
Essentially, self-service is the practice of enabling shoppers to complete their buyer’s journeys without any aid from your company representatives. The underlying principles of self-service have existed for a long time—think about selecting your produce at the grocery store or filling up your car’s gas tank—but the digital era has only accelerated this trend.
More than ever before, consumers are looking for experiences that provide fast service and accurate information, which are coincidentally two of the most appealing features of self-service.
For hotel businesses, the possibilities of self-service are nearly limitless when combined with the right types of technology. Customers can begin their self-service journey before they even walk through your doors if you work on optimizing your site so that it is simple for customers to engage with your brand autonomously.
Keep in mind that this expands beyond online reservations; your site should provide easy access to frequently asked questions, include recently updated blog articles on relevant topics, and feature site navigation that drives viewers to each touchpoint in the sales funnel.
Another great example of simplified customer service is the self-service kiosk, a tool that can rapidly accelerate your check-in and check-out processes while freeing up your human support team. Kiosks provide the ideal platform for guests who would prefer to take their reservations into their own hands—whether that’s because they’d like to skip the front-desk queue or because they’re not seeking any help beyond getting their room keys.
Unlike a regular employee, these pieces of technology don’t require breaks or off-days to continue serving your customers, meaning they can provide excellent, around-the-clock assistance for late check-ins or early arrivals.
Regardless of how large an impact these tech trends carry on the world of customer service, the foundational principles that attract customers to great businesses will stand resolute. By leveraging these technologies to improve your business practices, you can create a customer experience that is equal parts efficient and enjoyable for your guests.
Over to you
The hotel industry is always changing, especially during a time of crisis. Make sure to future-proof your business and continue attracting new guests by investing in these solutions.
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About Are Morch
Hi, I am Are Morch. Your Digital Marketing Coach and Customer Experience Expert specializes in creating effective digital customer experience offer for hotels while growing and scaling customer acquisition and revenue.
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