Enhancing the Customer Experience

There is often a fundamental disconnect between what business decision-makers see as the goals of Customer Experience (CX) initiatives, and how it is seen by the front-line, customer-facing staff who are responsible for actually carrying out those initiatives.

CX initiatives often revolve around utilizing big data and analytics tools to drive a deeper and more granular understanding of customers and potential customers, information which will ultimately inform marketing and distribution decisions. That level of knowledge also informs how front-line employees interact with customers.

Data from hotel price comparison platform HotelsCombined shows that 22 percent of American business travelers like to be recognized when they return to the same hotel, and that recognition is an essential part of the customer experience. The research also shows that 48 percent of business travelers like to stay at the same hotel each time they travel, a metric that reinforces those recognition efforts and the importance of customer loyalty initiatives.

“Business travelers are travelers with strong habits and often turn into repeat customers for a hotel if the traveler has a positive experience,” said Chris Rivett, travel expert at HotelsCombined. “Their focus is on business while they’re away from home, but it’s important that the hotel acts as a bridge between home and the office. We’re seeing many hotels prioritize the guest experience and we expect to see this trend continue as technology makes it even easier for hotels to offer personalized services.”

The people behind the technology

Big data and analytics has been transformative in the customer experience realm, giving us access to hidden insights into who the customer is and what they want. But the first place to look in enhancing the customer experience is on the front lines, and empowering call center staff to take initiative to meet those needs is by far the best practice in delivering that service. In the hotel industry for example, a concierge may glean from the customer analytics program that a particular customer is a frequent guest, usually orders room service, and stays for three nights. But the concierge that actually recognizes that individual personally, is going to deliver superior service than the concierge who goes by the data alone.

Not only do the customers appreciate that level of recognition, according to Workflex Solutions CEO Larry Schwartz in an interview in CEOCFO Magazine, call center employees are increasingly interested in providing it. According to the article, call center employees tend to be younger, averaging about 24 years old, and as millennials, they tend to want to feel a greater sense of purpose to their work, and want to know that they are making a meaningful contribution.

The value of the available technology isn’t just in the customer data that it can accumulate, it is in the technology’s ability to create an environment where front-line employees are empowered and motivated to provide a higher level of service.

According to a PwC report, creating better customer experiences ranks a strong second in how companies spend their IT dollars, after growing revenue. But while making that IT investment a priority, the report notes that “more information doesn’t always mean more value,” and the key to success is making sure the right information is being gathered, rather than too much of it  — and in empowering the front-line employees to act on the insights the big data driven IT investments create.

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