Raj Parmar, Marketing Director at customer engagement specialists, Box Technologies, looks at why customer experience (CX) is the key to customer advocacy in the hospitality sector.
The good news for the hospitality industry is that materialism is out – and experientialism is in. But as the trend for buying memories over possessions grows, the pressure is mounting for vendors to push the boundaries of customer experience.
Over the past 12 months or so, we’ve seen a real backlash against traditional consumer behaviour patterns. Younger people in particular are feeling a sense of ‘stuffocation’, and that in general they would rather rent items than buy them. They catch Ubers instead of buying cars; they stream films on Netflix instead of buying a DVD; and they download playlists on Spotify in place of CDs.
Without material goods to clutter their lives, these consumers have room – and money – for experiences. They would much rather spend their hard earned money on a trip away, and share the images on social media, than showcase their success through a new pair of trainers or a designer handbag.
This, of course, is great news for the hospitality industry. As purveyors of experiences, pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels are perfectly placed to help people generate lifelong memories. But in a climate where social statements are the new currency, the stakes are higher than they have ever been.
1) When to be slow, and when to be quick
For the modern hospitality business, a great customer experience rests on finding the perfect balance between leisure and convenience. Patrons may want to relax over a cocktail, or wind down at the pool, but there are certain elements of their visit that they want to be quick and convenient.
One of the crucial points for making or breaking the entire experience is the point of payment. Unlike in retail, where queueing is seen as a necessary evil, having to wait a long time for the bill – and having trouble settling it when it arrives – can leave a nasty taste in the customer’s mouth. Customers should never be hindered by poor, delayed or confused payment methods or processes.
The best way to build a satisfying transactional experience is to give customers choice and flexibility. An increasing number of vendors are investing in mobile point of sale (MPOS) systems, which enable front-line staff to settle a bill wherever the customer is located – rather than making them go to a fixed till.
Not only that, but these MPOS devices are enabled with a choice of payment methods, to make the experience more convenient for the customer. Raising the contactless payment limit to £30 last September had a wide-spread impact on the hospitality industry, while many venues are now giving patrons the option to pay with emerging technologies such as mobile payments. Investing in this kind of technology not only makes life easier for the customer, but their positive experience could encourage them to leave a tip too.
2) Using experience to build customer advocacy
While the payment experience may seem functional, it is an important part in the end-to-end customer journey – and what happens in those final moments can often dictate how a visitor feels about a hospitality venue or brand.
Make it smooth and painless, and they are more likely to leave positive feedback, and younger consumers in particular who are active on social media, hold the potential for powerful peer-to-peer recommendations.
Importantly, ending on a high note means satisfied customers are more likely to revisit. And if vendors can offer consistently strong service, they will see those customers return time and time again.
So while the concept of experience over goods may seem like a next generation philosophy, the techniques required to keep this new breed of consumer happy are relatively straightforward. Make it easy for them to do the functional parts so that they’re not only free to enjoy the more relaxing or exciting elements of their hospitality encounter, but are more likely to become loyal customers.
For more information, please visit http://boxtechnologies.com/