Parts one and two of our recent blog series explored the concept of customer-centricity and the business benefits that result from adopting a customer-centric approach. Our first post in the series explained how product-centric hotels often prioritize creating the “best possible” product above what their customer desires. When hotels are product-centric, they risk falling out of touch with their guests, leading to customer dissatisfaction and loss of revenue.
Alternatively, customer-centric hotels focus on guest wants and needs in their decision-making processes, ensuring that feedback is reflected in their facilities and services. When hotels center around the customer, there is an opportunity to increase revenue, improve their reputation, and create a culture that makes employees want to stay. While it’s clear there is a business imperative for hotels to be customer-centric, what is less obvious is how.
In part three of our customer-centricity series, we’ll explore how brands can deliver on a customer-centric service model, leveraging technology to improve their strategy, culture, and operations.
In today’s challenging landscape, guest expectations are higher than ever before. To provide a great experience for customers, hotels need a customer-centric strategy. As a starting point, research from Deloitte suggests focusing the strategy on the “guest journey,” honing in on five key areas: “knowing, engaging, delighting, empowering, and hearing your guests.”
For you to really know your customers, you need to understand why they are staying, enabling your brand to tailor their experience accordingly. This can be as simple as capturing guest preferences upon booking. To engage guests during their stay, your staff need to be empowered to provide attentive service. The heart of hospitality is service, making it critical for hotels to use technology to drive efficiency so staff have bandwidth to meet and exceed service expectations. Delighting your customers does not mean your brand has to be over the top. It can be a small gesture, such as a bottle of wine in a guest’s room to commemorate a special occasion, that makes a lasting impression on the customer. Today’s hotel guests like the ability to build their own itinerary. Empower guests with the right information and tools to customize their own stay. Lastly, Deloitte denotes hearing guests as another integral part of the strategy. That means empathizing with guests when things don’t go as planned and addressing the problem quickly to minimize damage and dissatisfaction.
To serve guests well, hotels need the right technology and data to manage the customer journey. Just how important is getting the customer experience right? A study by Forrester found that, “Brands with highly rated CX improve revenue at twice the rate of brands with poor experiences.”
To build a customer-centric culture, Forbes recommends that brands, “Make the customer experience everyone’s responsibility.” What does that mean exactly? It means that teams are customer-focused, regardless of whether they are customer-facing or not, and working together toward a common goal. In fact, to succeed, Forbes asserts that creating a customer-centric culture requires, ”A bold commitment to drive specific and measurable actions throughout your organization.”
Setting measurable goals is a winning strategy, but it requires accurate data. Hotels need to centralize data, providing an accurate, single source of truth for teams. In the first post of this blog series, we describe the pitfalls of teams and data operating in silos. We gave an example of a product-centric hotel that was tracking customer data separately across sales, marketing, and operations. Each team had their own tools and data sets, which ultimately hindered their ability to make the right business decisions and adapt strategies when necessary. Help teams, regardless of role or property location, see customer data the same way. This enables you to set goals and measure success against progress.
It’s important for hotels to review their operational procedures and look for ways to adopt customer-centric business practices and processes. An article by Hotel Management, explains the importance of technology and its impact on customer service: “Technology can also be used to cut costs without sacrificing the quality of the guest stay; enhanced efficiency resulting from the implementation of new technologies allows hotels to function better.”
Finding efficiencies not only enables employees to be better at their jobs, it reduces friction for customers, resulting in a higher standard of service. When customers are happy with service, hotels have higher profitability. In part two of our blog series, we explored the correlation between hotels meeting the needs of its customers and spikes in revenue. Research from PwC shows that customers are willing to pay higher prices when they feel taken care of. That makes operational efficiency a win-win for hotels and customers.
Delivering on a customer-centric service model may seem overwhelming at first, but remember that it doesn’t have to be achieved overnight. Using technology to make small changes across your strategy, culture, and operations gives you the opportunity to achieve impactful results.