New services/products, loyalty reward points, offers and discounts are some of the initiatives businesses take to increase customer retention. However, there’s always a possibility that such strategies might not churn the percentage of customer loyalty one had envisioned. Moreover, the constant transformation of the hospitality sector, especially fighting with the pandemic crisis, have tightened the pockets of hotel businesses. Is taking a risk of unproven strategy affordable?MSMEs in the hospitality sector must first invest time in identifying ‘customer touchpoints’ especially of a modern customer. With this mapping, one can analyse new consumer preferences and adopt the sureshot strategy to sustain the loyal customers and get back in the game.
Who is a modern customer?
The consumer of 21st century is influenced by the digital era demonstrating new consumer behaviours like:
- Hassle-free processes
- Instant gratification
- Quick solution to problems
What are Customer Touchpoints?
For sometime, stop thinking like an entrepreneur. Step into the customer’s shoes and try to understand the roadblocks countered at every stage while booking a hotel. The point of contact or interaction between the business and a customer (or a potential customer) during any stage of the buying cycle is termed as the customer touchpoint.
The point of contact or interaction between the business and a customer during any stage of the buying cycle is termed as the customer touchpoint.
How to Identify Customer Touchpoints?
The touchpoints start right from booking a room to checking out from the hotel or dropping at the airport or railway station. Hence, the identification of consumer touchpoints should be done in three phases:
Here are few pockets where small businesses in the hospitality industry can identify customer touchpoints:
The Hotel App or Website
This influences the booking decision therefore, acts as the crucial customer touchpoint. Customers, while booking a stay in the hotel, will demand adequate information in the app or website itself, right from the services available to the drop facilities. The website or the app should be user-friendly, easier to navigate and quick to load. It should include a clear call-to-action that should be short and easy to read such as Book Now, Book A Stay, etc.
In this phase, the brand is facing the customer physically. Here, a hassle-free experience of handing over the room keys, asking guests regarding their food preferences whether they want gluten-free or vegan meals and nearby sightseeing to local areas will help the hotel businesses deliver a personalised experience to the customer. Hotel businesses can maximise customer engagement and strengthen loyalty by leveraging CRM software to understand the journey between booking and check-in stages. It will help hotels to anticipate the needs of the customers and create a point of difference in services from the competitors.
During the Stay
It is the litmus test for the hotels to understand how the customer is interacting with your offerings. The appealing interiors, the appliances in the room, Wifi connection, outside view of the room, hygienic bedsheets and pillows and not to forget the complimentary meals or drink when the customer reaches the hotel which creates a sensory experience.
Using product usage analytics, hotel businesses can figure out what has made their stay wonderful in the room, understand challenges in using any product or service, what other facilities in the room could have been provided. etc.
Chatbots can be implemented by hotel businesses to offer automated assistance. The customers, while interacting through chatbots in the hotel app, can receive answers to their simple queries regarding opening hours of hotel-gym, cab availability and booking, different cuisines available, or any issues regarding the room such as geyser or room wifi not working, etc. The chatbots will send real-time answers to the customer concerns, therefore, offer better assistance in the journey and create a good impression.
Post-stay services and obtaining surveys
As soon as the customer checks out, the services do not end there. Apart from offering cab services to the airport, there are incidents where the customer might have left some things behind in the hotel room. It will be prudent of the hotel business to inform the customer about it and courier it directly to his/her doorstep. This will showcase the honesty exhibited by the hotel. After this, hotel brands can obtain post-stay surveys and feedback to understand pain points and suggestions to improve services provided.
The hospitality industry is human-centric where satisfaction is established when businesses proactively respond to complaints and service issues.