One of the most important lessons we learned during COVID-19 was that now he has to start working with a customer where they are, not where the Hotel wants the customer to be.
New digital ways of doing business embraced by customers are now the norm. Indeed, customer expectations for digital experiences have only escalated, and hotels that fail to keep the momentum are going to risk alienating those they seek to serve.
To keep pace with consumers’ rising expectations, hotel brands will need to continue building out and coordinating their digital transformation processes to help understand the customer experience journey.
Let’s get your hotel started on a new journey working with your customers where they are.
The Customer Experience Journey and Digital Transformation: A New Opportunity for Hotels
I will start by repeating an important digital transformation principle – this represents a process where people and technology work in harmony to serve customers with excellence at every touchpoint within a given journey that involves your hotel.
Amid the pandemic, more people worked, shopped, and made travel arrangements from home or via mobile devices, forcing hotels to rely more on digital technology.
How important is it that your hotel gets a good understanding of the customer experience journey?
In an ideal world, the customer experience journey people take to become loyal customers with hotels would be a straight shot down a highway: See your service offers. Book your service offer. Use your service offer. Rinse and repeat.
In reality, the customer experience journey is more like a jigsaw puzzle with stops, exploration, and discussion along the way—all important moments where your hotel needs to convince people to pick your brand and stick with it instead of switching to a competitor.
The question is how does your hotel convince people to pick your brand and stick with it instead of switching to a competitor within their customer experience journey?
The short answer is You Don’t!
We have to start with seeking to understand first, then to be understood.
As I started with today we have to learn how to work with people where in their customer experience journey they are.
Today we have to meet both employees and customers where they are. As hoteliers, we have to innovate and start thinking outside the box to attract and retain employees and the same goes for the customer.
Listen to and collaborate with your employees
Customers expect a quality experience while using your hotel’s products and services. Giving customers what they wanted and providing service beyond expectations is usually a winning combination.
Your hotel employees are your eyes and ears. And if you don’t collaborate with employees you will set your hotel up for failure. Every employee matters and makes up for an unbreakable chain of servants.
Today the customer experience is a journey that starts long before any hotel is in the picture. Data from Google has shown that within 126 days of a potential journey the customer will visit about 2000 touchpoints. Within 64 days they will have narrowed it down to 200 touchpoints.
I have talked about the importance of;
- Being found
- Being seen
- Being experienced
- Being share
This means that hotel marketers should tailor messaging to the need being expressed at that moment. Whether the customer is in the planning stage or the educate-me stage hotels need to learn how to communicate with the customer at these stages.
Customers today want to achieve stuff at the moment. And they want hotel brands to work with them at the moment. They don’t care who it is that is helping them, just that someone is helping them.
Your employees are the ones who are in the best position to help your hotel reach people within their customer experience journey.
Turn your employees into partners and brand ambassadors for your hotel.
The customer experience Sweet Spot
One essential key to being found, being seen, being experienced, and being shared is that your hotel has to start reverse engineering these principles.
This means you have to take an active role in finding the customer, seeing what they are doing, experiencing what they are experiencing, and sharing their content.
Use your employees as brand ambassadors to identify the sweet spots where employees’ and customers’ goals align with your hotel’s goals. Often brands find that their employee’s goals are closer to customer goals than the brand’s goals. That is why you want to use employees to help customers achieve theirs and learn how this can help them get closer to your hotel’s goals.
Your hotel’s communication portal
At what point does your hotel normally communicate with customers?
It is important that you have a good understanding of what points the customer starts to involve your hotel in their customer experience journey. Is this pre-booking, at-booking, or post-booking?
Today we live in a real-time disruptive society. And the communication that involves your brand will happen at times most hotels are missing out on today.
Abandonment rates on hotel websites were 2019 at 84.63%. And most of the time it can be boiled down to a lack of communication with the right message.
Start to create a hotel communication portal where you empower your employees to start identifying why this is happening and understand customers’ intent and actions.
Recognize new pain points
By creating a communication portal with your employees you start to understand the why of the customer’s intent and actions.
But it also opens a new way for hotels to understand how customers feel during all touchpoints that involve your hotel.
It is important to understand all negative experiences customers feel during these touchpoints.
Customers might have built up a set of anticipation from various touchpoints before they arrive at your hotel’s website. And when they arrive at your hotel’s website none of these anticipations match what is presented to them at your website.
This is why it is so important that hotels utilize their employees to play a more active role in the customer’s experience journey.
Experience the journey
Data from new digital tools and from using your employees as hotel ambassadors will give your hotel a good picture that helps you understand the customer experience journey.
But experiencing the journey will provide highly valuable insight.
Allow your employees to go through every step in the customer journey with your hotel. And also let them do the same with some competing hotels in the area to learn if their customer experience is different.
Customer Experience journey map
By now you have a team of employees that can provide you with a goldmine of information.
Start creating a customer experience journey map together with your employees where you use sticky notes to plot down data from all touchpoints.
I recommend using a Kanban board as part of your digital transformation huddle. This will help your hotel team with a bird’s eye view of the customer experience journey.
The reason I use it in context with the digital transformation huddle is to implement daily growth mindset questions to test out.
We know the customer experience journey is not static and we all have different preferences about what matters at the various touchpoints. So it is essential to give some room for flexibility.
Working with employees and customers will help improve your hotel’s digital transformation processes. You will put your hotel in a better position to differentiate and become more cost-effective when you understand your employees and your customers.
Digital Transformation Framework Partnership for Hotels
Hotels today have to invest in people and technology in a context that adds value to everyone involved.
Don’t continue to neglect or take the people’s transformation for granted. Technology is a digital tool that will help your hotel when implemented in collaboration with your employees.
Partner with your employees and they will help with retaining and hiring people.
I also invite you to work with me as your hotel partner to help implement a new innovative digital transformation framework that opens the digital gateways to more direct bookings without competing with the OTA.
Shoot me an email at: [email protected]
Digital Transformation Coach
Are Morch, Digital Transformation Coach