How the travel and hospitality industry can get ahead with omnichannel customer service
Omnichannel strategy is becoming critical to compete in a complex market of both traditional and high-tech players.
Across the industry, today’s customers interact with dozens of channels, apps and devices as they seek out the information and assistance they need. In order to provide their guests with a superior experience, hospitality and travel brands must maximize the potential of every consumer touch point, from the call center conversation to mobile, social media and chat.
But a true omnichannel offering takes significant time and effort, as well as the right tools, talent and technology. Here’s a brief look at what the industry stands to gain from omnichannel and how to tap into this growing opportunity, while optimizing your multichannel contact center in the meantime.
Be consistent to enhance brand conversations
Social-marketing performance company Engagement Labs recently released the results of its TotalSocial Rankings, a ranking of major airlines based on social media and word-of-mouth conversations. By tracking the volume of conversations, consumer sentiment, brand shares and influencer activity online, as well as offline conversations, the company determined businesses that show “a higher relative consistency” compared to other airlines are more likely to come out on top.
JetBlue topped the list, with Alaskan Airlines coming in at a close second by keeping their narrative “true to type,” says Maggie Fosdick, vice-president of Engagement Labs. “Consistency is so important,” Fosdick says. “Conversations that tend to be more positive are the ones that talk about a good experience with the brand, and (consistency) is one way to drive a positive conversation.”
Fosdick also notes that contact center interactions count toward a brand’s volume score. Companies that are able to boost this metric with consistently constructive and pleasurable conversations typically see their efforts reflected in a higher TotalSocial score.
Leverage guest data for a fluid customer experience
To improve their standing with customers and create that all-important seamless interaction, travel and hospitality brands must have the proper tools in place to facilitate data sharing – a hallmark of good multichannel, as well as omnichannel, contact centers.
For instance, if a customer routinely books a hotel and car package deal for spring break and the agent who takes next year’s reservation sees their vehicle of choice is a fuel-efficient sedan, the company is in a great position to streamline the booking process. Rather than leave the customer to start a new reservation at square one, that agent can immediately provide all available green car options.
Not only does arming agents with this type of guest history offer insight into their existing relationship with the brand, but it helps agents resolve queries quicker and more easily, regardless of whether the initial inquiry took place by phone, chat or in person at the hotel’s front desk.
Put customers first, and come out ahead
Forrester Research recently looked at top trends for Customer Relationship Management for 2017, reporting that “companies must offer customers ways to easily engage with them to foster an ongoing omnichannel dialogue and relationship that strengthens loyalty and retention.”
The optimal approach is to give guests thoughtful and intuitive options for engaging with your business so they can select the one that best fits their current needs, location and mood. For example, giving a business traveler the option to confirm tomorrow’s hotel conference room reservation by text rather than having to engage in a phone conversation, saves that customer significant time and effort, especially after a long day of meetings.
Offering a voice channel in tandem with a live web-based chat app, SMS messaging option, or a social media presence, you make it easier for guests to get what they need and move on, ultimately affording them a more satisfying, memorable and distinctive brand interaction.
Omnichannel made easy: Implementation checklist for travel and hospitality companies
This easy-to-follow omnichannel checklist created by Everest Group, in partnership with TELUS International, is designed to assist today’s most successful travel brands navigate to an omnichannel customer experience strategy.
Whether your company is still optimizing your multichannel approach, or if you’re gunning for a true omnichannel experience, consider making a few strategic changes to increase consistency across channels.
- Train contact center agents to communicate using a tone of voice that’s consistent with your brand identity. Regardless of which agent they get the next time they call or text, your customers need the experience to feel both useful and familiar.
- Prioritize a positive narrative and informed customer exchange to win consumers’ attention and loyalty. A favorable service experience can result in positive conversations, both online and off.
- Connect your channels for easier navigation. Tying one customer service channel to the next ensures that none of your channels operates in a silo or gets overlooked.
- Monitor how customers engage with each channel. Analytical insights can be used to make improvements like increasing staff during your busiest hours, or tweaking the user experience in response to trends in customer behavior.
It takes a lot of work, but being available to your customers through their preferred form of communication can go a long way toward strengthening the company-customer bond. It’s undeniable that omnichannel service is the future of customer communications. Whatever your stage on the omnichannel journey, prioritizing consistency and convenience for your customers will keep you moving in the right direction.