Improving customer experience (CX) has become an increasingly important strategic goal for corporate executives.
In fact, glancing at recent reports from industry analysts such as Gartner, Ovum, or Frost & Sullivan, it’s clear that they believe customer experience is now the number one executive priority.
But as every executive will also tell you, there is a need to connect investment in activities such as improving the customer experience with an increase in business. If you invest in making the customer enjoy their experience with your company then does that translate into more revenue? If not, then is the investment justified?
This is of particular importance in the travel sector where customers can easily at the click of a mouse switch between travel companies, or independently book resorts, hotels, flights, hotels, and transfers directly. Some within the industry believe that customers are merely borrowed from each other and with so many options available it is becoming harder to create long-term loyalty. Unsurprisingly, one of the greatest causes for supplier switching is negative brand experience. This alone should emphasise the importance of the experience in keeping your customer interested in your services.
Of course, personal recommendations and advocacy have always influenced buyer decisions. There is nothing more powerful than when a family member or friend says that they have had a great experience with a particular company. However, it is only in recent years that we have seen a post-TripAdvisor generation of traveller emerge – people who regularly base travel decisions on immediate research that takes only seconds.
So if the experience your customers have with your brand consequently influences how they will review your company and with this information now influencing many travel decisions, it is vital to ensure that you are getting great satisfaction ratings in online review sites and social media posts. These recommendations cost nothing in absolute terms, but getting that ‘free’ praise from customers is hard work.
Managing the customer journey more proactively can have an enormous positive impact on the overall experience and how customers perceive your brand. Best-case, you get to inform customers proactively about their travel plans and destinations without them needing to search for information. Worse-case, you get to augment the research they have almost certainly already undertaken.
According to the industry analyst Gartner, as much as 50% of all product investments will be directed at improving the customer experience by 2017 – that’s just next year. Recent research in this whitepaper by Data Mentors highlights 20% of customers are lost annually due to poor experiences, 81% of customers are willing to pay more for a better service, and 89% of customers have switched brand after a poor experience. Whilst these statistics are based on studies that blend various industries, they could be perceived at being conservative for the competitive nature of the travel industry. In summary, the importance of great recommendations based on a great customer experience cannot be understated.
McKinsey believes that executives can map backwards from the kind of customer experiences they want to create to the type of strategy they need to make this happen. We believe that this is true, but also that the most important element of building a great customer experience is to map the entire customer journey. Stand in the shoes of your customer and think of the information they need and their experience at each touch point. If you can’t improve the customer journey then improving customer experience will be impossible.
Our innovative TravelComms customer communications solution provides a platform for enabling customised customer journeys – creating a superior customer experience. Contact us and experience it for yourself.