How to prove the ROI of Customer Experience?

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Customer Experience is equal to brand management. And if you underestimate the importance of either, you might not be in business 5 years from now.

Executives need to understand that Customer Experience ROI is the same as strategy ROI.

So think about your organization’s strategy the next time you present the case for investment in Customer Experience.

Download our Customer Experience ROI Guide to learn how.

 

 

 

On 5/24/18, Liliana Petrova presented at the Customer Experience Exchange Travel & Hospitality conference in Florida. She spoke about the ROI of Customer Experience. Topics included:
We have discussed the power of employee engagement for your brand. And we have explained the true meaning and ROI of a working corporate culture. Now, it's time to examine the business case of customer engagement. This includes the powerful brand image and brand loyalty engaged customers generate. Remember, loyalty drives repeat purchases, higher revenues and more engaged customers.
 
An engaged customer requires investment in ongoing conversation. The "conversation" dollars go to social media campaigns and  closed-loop systems for customer feedback. Among other customer experience levers, it also includes a responsive loyalty customer service.

Invest in people as much as product

On one occasion, I received a complaint from a JetBlue customer. In order to keep the conversation with him going, I had to relay information to the teams that were accountable for his experience. I had to reply to him with comprehensive, empathetic feedback about his experience. CX professionals call this close loop. But close loop is a policy. Making the effort to connect with people across the organization and CARING about getting answers is employee engagement on my part. Corporate culture generates engagement like that.
 
Culture like this maintains customer engagement and, as a result, creates an ancillary purchase in the future. Often, people and service are more important than the product of an organization.  People and service build an organization's brand image when customers interact with that brand. Customer experience relies more on human interactions with the brand than on the technology that enables those interactions.
 

Empathy and Innovation

Magazine Luiza is great example of impacting ancillary sales and generating 35% ROI as a result of deliberate investment in empathy and innovation.  The Brazilian virtual store offers products on credit to under-served customers in rural areas. Customers can see pictures of their desired products. Then, they can go home and wait for delivery within 48 hours.
 
To achieve loyalty and repeat business, Magazine Luiza also functions as community centers that offer free internet, literacy, cooking and basic banking classes. This investment contributed to the build out of a strong emotional connection between the brand and its audience. It transformed Magazine Luiza into a powerful lifestyle brand for its customers. Even customers apprehensive about taking credit visit a place where a friendly face walks them through the experience of borrowing money while their child learns how to write for free.
 
The brand image of growth and development that come from the education components the company provides is, in a way, transferred to the "product" of buying on credit.  Once customers are empowered to buy on credit initially, they return to buy more things. Each of those purchases makes them feel economically empowered.
 

Engaged customers are the blood of every business

Without engaged customers, business cannot grow. Engaged customers provide steady cashflow and free cashflow that allows a business to invest in products and customer acquisition. The ROI of engaged customers lies in the growth of the organization and the incremental revenue that follows. Depending on the growth stage of a particular organization, that ROI also can mean an organization's survival.

What is the Business Case of Customer Engagement for Your Brand?

Learn how to make the business case for customer engagement and customer experience for your brand. And connect customer experience to ROU. Become a Member of The Petrova Experience.
The business case for Customer Service is complex. Gone are the days when we bought a piece of hardware that depreciates over 5 or 10 years on the balance sheet. Customer Experience does not even show up on our assets list. At least not with that name.

What is the ROI CX?

The ROI of CX is in the revenue and customer growth of your organization. It is in the engagement of your customer base that leads to ancillary sales. And it is in the strength of your brand image and the worth of your brand equity. The challenge business leaders face justifying investments (especially big ones) is driven by the non linear nature of those relationships. Today's CFO needs to understand that customer experience is a competitive advantage more than ever. Customer Experience is equal to brand management. And if you underestimate the importance of either, you might not be in business in 5 years.

Don't Forget Strategy

Customer Experience ROI is the same as your company's strategy ROI. If you don't have a defined brand and marketing strategy backed up with a complementary communications strategy, you will not see Customer Experience ROI. Regardless of your investments. Think about your strategy. And argue the case for Customer Experience investments as an execution of a strategy, not as a business case.

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Customer Experience Strategy

Human-Centered Experience Design

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Customer Experience Strategy & Customer-Centered Culture

Sample Deliverables

  • Strategic Leadership Workshop
  • Mission, Vision, Values and Hospitality Standards Workshops
  • Customer Experience Audit
  • Customer Experience Org Structure
  • Customer Experience Program Roadmap
  • Communications Strategy and Roadmap

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Sample Deliverables

  • Hospitality culture driven interview guides
  • Performance Management toolkits for managing culture
  • Compensation strategy review and recommendations
  • Hospitality standards training
  • Leadership hospitality training
  • CX Advisory Committee set up

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Human-Centered Service & Technology Design

Sample Deliverables

  • Streamlined customer-centered processes and procedures
  • Roles and responsibilities audit
  • Journey Mapping & Gap Analysis
  • Customer Insights analysis
  • Customer and stakeholder interviews
  • Personas Development
  • Ecosystem Diagrams
  • Cross-functional workshops

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Sample Deliverables

  • Process and experience flows
  • Wireframes
  • UX Design blueprints
  • Software configurations
  • System and software capabilities recommendations
  • Performance standards recommendations
  • Program Management
  • Cross-functional workshops
  • POC (proof of concept) development and execution

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Alyson B., Boston, MA, USA

We had an org structure that was siloed by product and department objectives. Liliana provided guidance in implementing the right customer experience governance to enable the best outcome. Her consulting proved to be actionable and customized and we were able to craft a cross-functional customer experience management plan that has yielded positive results in our business.

Guilherme Kolberg, Grupo X, Sao Paolo, Brazil

Liliana helped us design the most actionable and impactful hierarchy in our customer experience team. Following her recommendation we embedded CX Ambassadors in the front line operational teams. With this structure we are able to connect the feedback from our clients to the people delivering the experience every day.

Lisa Stefanoff, Specialty Food Association, NYC, USA

Liliana helped move the Specialty Food Association to the next level. In a very short time period she build our membership strategy and design new journeys for our target members, allowing young companies to join the association. Her strategy will elevate the authority of the association in the industry and nurture our members in a personalized and relevant way.

AWARDS & Credentials

This summer, The Petrova Experience conducted a Customer Experience Preparedness Survey. One of our questions assessed brand maturity in terms of customer experience strategy. Only 28% of the respondents had a well defined customer experience strategy.

What Happens When You Don't Have a Clear Strategy?

That means two thirds of the organizations we surveyed have not prioritized customer experience in their budgets and overall strategy. We are here to tell you that there is no better time than now to start this process. We are living in a transformational period. No matter your industry, you need to pivot to one extent or another in order to meet your customers where they are. Without a well defined customer experience strategy and roadmap, you risk investing in the wrong technology and designing the wrong experiences.

Wrong Technology

When we refer to investing in the wrong technology, we are talking about technology solutions that are too expensive, have low adoption, and fail to deliver ROI. Let's take an airline that invests in a paid facial recognition fast track experience at the security checkpoint. If this airline has primarily leisure travelers (i.e. families, vacationers, infrequent travelers) the adoption of this technology will likely be low. This is an example the "next shiny thing" investment that is not strategic and will have limited impact on the customer experience of that airline.

Wrong Customer Experience

Similarly, when we talk about the danger of creating the wrong overall experience, we are talking about experiences that are not connected. These experiences feel like a patch on the customer journey, rather than elements of a unified whole. These are the kinds of experiences that affect ONLY one moment on the customer journey, in isolation. As we have seen, if you do just one thing for experience, in a vacuum, absent of strategy, you are likely to generate more dissatisfied customers than if you had done nothing. Consider this seriously. When you offer only one better touchpoint, all the other points look and feel even worse. So, take the time to build your customer experience roadmap and align your budgets with it. Do it yourself, or engage with a customer experience consutlant like us. But make sure you do something to position yourself for the 2020 customer. They deserve it.

What is Customer Experience Roadmap?

Customer experience roadmap is a long-term timeline (covering 5 years) that includes both large and small customer experience projects. Together, these projects build the customer experience you envision for your customer. Further, the roadmap enables  your organization to get behind the funding required to get things done. See, it is one thing for your CFO to say in a meeting, "Yeah, I agree we should invest in our customer experience in the next few years."  But it is much more powerful to get that same person to say, "I approve the 5 year investment of $20M in our customer experience roadmap that includes our digital experience transformation, contact center refresh, and hospitality training of all our frontline employees." Do you see what I just did? I created a high level customer experience roadmap for you. And I got your CFO to make a budget commitment! All you need to do is allocate those $20M appropriately and begin your work. Think of the customer experience roadmap as one of your most powerful tools to transition vision and strategy to significant operational efficiencies and experience improvements.

Customer Experience Roadmap Case Study

Let's put this in practice. Imagine you are a major airport and a hub with wide and narrow body planes coming and both domestic and international passengers. Take it a step further, and imagine you are bombarded by all kind of technology firms telling you they can help you build contactless experience for your customers. Where do you begin? You know you have to do something, but you have no idea where to begin. This is where your customer experience roadmap comes to the rescue! Once you have defined what your passenger experience should be, and that contactless is part of your vision, you are ready for your roadmap. We know restroom cleanliness is a major passenger complaint. So, that could be your first item. Biometric technology is another important item to add to this airport's customer experience roadmap. But not just biometrics! Think through WHAT you need to use the technology for in relation to your staff and your passengers. Last but not least, allocate funding for your customer experience communications. Often, this is overlooked and/or underfunded. Especially for our imaginary airport, passenger communications should take up a good part of the roadmap. Creating a customer experience roadmap is not an easy exercise. It takes time. It will take even more time to socialize it to the proper people who need to support its execution. A successful customer experience roadmap is driven by customer insights and your customer experience strategy. And it is well worth the effort - for you, your brand, and your customers.In our last article we talked about the importance of strategic thinking. Today, we build on this topic and walk you through the nuts and bolts of customer experience strategy. Customer experience strategy is often missing in organizations. However, it is foundational for the creation of excellent customer experience.

Understand Business Strategy and Customer Experience Strategy

Before we jump in, note that having clear business strategy is a prerequisite for our conversation today. The easiest way to help understand this relationship is to look at a scenario that includes geographies. Say your company is planning to shift its client base to Europe or Asia in the next 2-5 years and you do not know that. In this case, you may be mapping a customer experience strategy for the US client, and completely missing the mark on the client expectations and needs in the other continents! This is why we highly recommend that the customer experience leader reports directly to the CEO. This enables the customer experience program to support a sustainable organization's growth.

Identify Your Customer

The first (and most important) step of customer experience strategy design is to identify the right persona of your customer. What does that mean? Look at the people or businesses who are buying your product. Then, identify those that have the critical mass to support your revenues and growth. This may sound easy, but it is actually quite difficult. Especially if you are a large organization in which politics and interests of certain leaders often influence the decision-making process. At best, they create a standstill where no decision is achieved. This is actually one of the main reasons why organizations often do not have customer experience strategy. Answering the question of client persona correctly is the first step of mapping the future of your company.

Know Who You Serve

Let's take an airline. If the passenger experience is designed for a "leisure" traveler (someone going on vacation), while the prevalent customer is a business traveler, that airline's customer satisfaction will go down, despite investments in customer experience. Every organization has limited funds that need to be prioritized. If this same airline invested in inflight entertainment systems and bag drop experience instead of operational reliability (being on time; taking off) the ROI of that investment would be poor. Business flights tend to be shorter. Their passengers usually work onboard. Departure times also tend to be earlier. Business travelers need to sleep on the plane and arrive at meetings on time. On those flights, the entertainment system is NOT one of the major customer needs.

Make the Right Investments

Now, if the same airline invested in onboard wifi, the story changes. Another thing that business travelers do not do is check in bags. So those people may not even UNDERSTAND that there was a new bag drop experience your airline paid for them to enjoy. This perspective of knowing your customer is just as important for BtoB organizations like ours. Knowing who our customer is took some digging, analysis and trials. First, we started with the really small businesses in the neighborhood. We quickly learned that we need established businesses with 100M revenues or more in order to have the necessary client infrastructure to make an impact. Does that mean we cannot help smaller businesses? No. Of course we can help them! We just cannot afford to do that for the level of budgets they have.

Understand the How

Once you have identified your customers, it is time to identify their true problem. Not the problem you think they have, not the one the media talks about. Their actual problem. Everyone is facing a challenge. In the BtoB world, those challenges are even bigger. Identify the challenges, then design how you are going to meet them. The "How" is critical. The "How" is your brand. And your brand is an essential piece of your customer experience strategy. Your brand is your culture and principles that guide your behaviors with the client. Are you selling a self-service, seamless experience or exclusive, guided/curated experience? Is your strength technology or something else? Is your opportunity in the technology space or the people space? Only you know the answer to these questions. One question you do NOT know the answer to is: "What is my customer's need and how does he/she like it to be resolved?" Do not make the mistake of thinking that speaking to a few people is the same as conducting customer research. Make sure you listen to your customers (even if you do not like what you hear). Then design the customer experience strategy that will make them happy. Not the one that you think will make you happy. Because, let’s face it, they are the ones paying your bills. ;)Today we're talking about casinos. Casinos and airlines are similar in their operational complexity and sense of wonder. They also are similar in the way they can implement technology to improve their guest experience design. For some reason though Las Vegas still has not mastered some key customer experience technologies that drastically improve customer experience. Few people really know how casinos work. Sure, most people know the house always wins, just like most people know planes take off on time (most of the time…), without considering the complexities behind the scenes. How do you keep an airline running smoothly? How do you manage the flow of people - and their heightened emotions - in a casino setting?

Check-In Challenges

Both airlines and casinos have distinct check-in touchpoints. Three months ago, I had the chance (no pun intended!) to take my mother to Las Vegas. I had visited previously on business, but I had never experienced Vegas as a tourist. To my disappointment, I found that most casinos had not figured out self-service as a check-in touchpoint. Now, by self-service, I do not mean Hyatt digital keys. I mean functioning kiosks that can be used quickly to avoid long lines. When I saw no self-service options of this type, I was so disgruntled I shared my frustration on social media! Shortly after returning to New York, we were faced with COVID-19. And, for a time, I put aside my bad guest experience. Now that we are talking about reopening, it is time to share best practices from the aviation world about how to improve guest customer experience in casinos. Start by making a good first impression on a customer journey.

Consider the Check-In Touchpoint

Regardless of the industry, check-in is an important customer-facing experience touchpoint. For airlines, it can mean the difference between catching a flight or missing it. For hospitals, it can make or break patient outcomes. And for casinos and their hotels, check-in can determine how much money a guest is willing to spend on the casino floor. The faster a guest checks in, the sooner that guest is spending money gambling. In the post COVID-19 world, check-in is becoming more important than ever. Self-service will be a casino game changer. Those with strategic leadership thinking will apply guest experience design and optimize this touchpoint and see the returns they so desperately need.

Take a Strategic Approach with Guest Experience Design

The CEO who acts with the right level of urgency now has the chance to grab a much larger portion of the post-COVID market when everything opens. After all, the beauty of check-in is that, once you build it, it can be applied across multiple scenarios. For a casino, strategically designed check-in solutions can solve not just for hotel check-in, but also for entering a show, a sports game, a concert or any other entertainment offering. All of this becomes even more important (and more challenging) post-COVID.

A Tale of Two Lobbies

Let's compare two experiences. After a long flight, Guest A arrives in a crowded lobby, similar to the one in the image above. It is 11:30 p.m. local time. Guest A spends more than an hour waiting in line, worrying about social distancing. Eventually, Guest A interacts with a front desk agent (still worried about social distancing). Finally, Guest A receives a reusable plastic key (this causes more anxiety). By the end of this transaction, Guest A is annoyed at best, and in a real state of panic at worst. Now, imagine Guest B arrives at an open space lobby with kiosks. Check-in Liliana Petrova By guest experience design, this space looks clean and spacious. Guest B approaches a kiosk that dispenses a room key after a few simple clicks. If the facility wants to optimize available biometrics technology, it enables the kiosk with a facial recognition program and makes Guest B's experience contactless. How do you think Guest B is feeling? After this easy check-in, Guest B is thinking only about the NEXT interaction with the casino. Why? Because the check-in was so seamless and easy, Guest B is not even thinking about it! Who is in a better mood? Who is ready to spend money on the casino floor? Even more importantly, who is more likely to return to the casino after this visit?

Overcoming Check-In Challenges

Some of you might say, "Great, but to do this, we need to integrate the legacy reservation system with the kiosks." And others might say, "Ok, but the payment system needs to be upgraded to include contactless pay." Last but not least, the unions (yes, casinos have pretty powerful unions) will counter,"you are eliminating jobs." Now, this is where the lessons from the airlines come into play. Airlines have the exact same challenges. The same archaic systems run their passenger reservations. But at the end of the day, if you do not solve this, you will always be a prisoner of the technology of the past. Today, investing in technology is investing in hospitality.

Invest in Hospitality

If you are in the business of travel and entertainment, you need to schedule a meeting with that one dinosaur technology provider by the end of Q2. Figure out how to integrate with the new world. I know it is doable. We did it in JetBlue. Of course, it was not easy. Yet, that is the reason why we were able to board people using only their faces in 2017, while our competitors were asking travelers to register at a kiosk with their ten-digit ticket number. Try to guess the adoption rates of those competing programs. The current contactless payment challenge is not much different. Apple Pay started in October 2014. JetBlue became the first airline to adopt it in February 2015. And this is just one example. The strategic casino out there has to figure out the contactless payment service that works for their organization. The point is, if an airline with small margins can do it in 2015, a casino can do the same in 2020. And they must.

Upgrade Jobs

Back when we were working both on the self-service lobbies and facial recognition programs, we were asked all the time if we were planning to eliminate jobs. The answer was always the same. We were SHIFTING jobs. We were UPGRADING jobs. Think of today's front desk casino employee.

Front desk employees are struggling with old systems behind very high podiums. They activate plastic keys that constantly get deactivated. They serve guests who are annoyed, tired, and anxious. In the future optimized lobby, that same employee is a welcome concierge who provides updates about casino cleaning and safety. This employee ensures that, from the first moment a guest enters the casino property, she feels comfortable, welcome, and take care of.

Self-Service Tips for Guest Experience Design

Making lists in posts in not my style. But for the topic of self-service, I am making an exception. Here are some top observations from my stay in Las Vegas. 1. The ROI of self-service follows the same logic as slot machines. The more guests use them, the better the return. Shutting down kiosks between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. should not happen. Whatever the system issue is, invest once to fix it, then see the long-term payout. 2. Having kiosks in front of the registration desk while keeping the desk fully staffed does not drive adoption. Take the risk. Staff your check-in with fewer people. 3. Do not install kiosks in the middle of the lobby. Instead, make it intuitive for the guest. And create seamless experience design. Casino consultant Kiosks casino lobby

Think Ahead - and Be Flexible

No one knows exactly what a casino or an airline experience would look like post-COVID. However, we do know that people will seek safety, security and comfort. We also know that long lines are coming our way, unless we do something about it now. The technology is available. It has been for years. The only thing left is for you to design it with intent. The intent to make your customer happy, and to secure a healthy future for your organization. Enjoy the experience! And it you would like a guide on your journey, we are here to help.Hospitality is taken for granted across government agencies, airlines and hotels. In my line of work, I often hear "I want to have the JetBlue customer experience." Although many claim this, few truly understand the complicated steps, processes, and investments required to create the hospitality experience they claim to want. So, how do you infuse hospitality in your business?  

What Does "Hospitality" Really Mean?

I used to say hospitality means CARING. But even that seems too broad. And hard to grasp. So, here are a few examples of the actions that express hospitality to your guest, customer, or traveler. Creating a real hospitality experience means dropping the extra towels in your guest's room after you have said you would (after you commit to it). It means that, when the internet in your hotel is not working, you proactively communicate to ALL your guests so they can properly prepare. Hospitality also means that, after you have promised to take a day of resort charges off the bill for the inconvenience of broken internet, you actually do it. You do not "forget about it." Nor do you make your guest remind you about your promise, or make your guest feel anxious over whether you will keep your promise. By now, I hope you see the theme of trust in these examples. In this context, hospitality is easy to understand. Hospitality means following through on your promises. It is walking the walk. And putting your money where your mouth is. 

If the Hospitality Experience is So Simple, Why is it Hard to Do Consistently?

Hospitality is hard to put into consistent practice because, behind each commitment you make, there is organizational complexity required to deliver on that commitment. Let's go back to the towels example. In order for the housekeeper to drop off the extra towels, she needs to genuinely CARE about making the guest happy. That means she needs to go the extra mile and interrupt her original flow of cleaning rooms and go to the guest's room. She needs to enter, despite the sign that says "Do Not Disturb," because she REMEMBERS the specific request to drop the towels without cleaning the room. This also means that the housekeeper is selfless. She is not bothered by the fact that she may not receive a big tip, since she is not there to clean the room. In other words, the housekeeper will, essentially, drop the towels "for free". Now, to get that kind of mentality in a workforce, you need days of hospitality training; daily rituals for supervisors and managers to keep the hospitality standards top of mind; and, perhaps, a payment structure that is more sophisticated than tips to incentivize caring about all guests' experiences. For all of this to take place, hotel management must bring hospitality experts to design the proper training and procedures, and to train all employees. This requires money and intentional investment in the guest experience, which, in this case, is hospitality.

Proactive Communication

Let's move on to the proactive communication related to any kind of amenities that today's customer takes for granted (like in-room WiFi). In order for proactive communication to happen correctly, several procedures must be in place. Chances are, the internet is provided by an external partner. So, your relationship with the outsourced company must be strong. This strong relationship means you know immediately when the internet is down. Further, you understand the plan to fix it, and how long it will take to fix. The next thing you need to have is a serious SLA (service level agreement) in place. This ensures that what the internet provider says they will do actually happens. In other words, the provider incurs heavy fines if they fail to practice hospitality in their organization.

Include Marketing in the Process and Response

Assuming all of this is in place, you must map the process so that every time the internet is down, a specific person in marketing is informed. This enables you to send an email out to all the impacted guests. As we explained in our last article, you may not have the contact information for everyone, but you will cover your customers as best as you are able. Now, another requirement is worth mentioning here. The marketing team itself needs to have gone through that hospitality training we spoke about earlier. Many organizations divide employees in two categories: "customer-facing" and "non customer-facing." These organizations try to save money by training only the "customer-facing" employees in hospitality standards. The problem is, in today's day and age, almost every service requires the proactive engagement and diligence of the "back office." Hospitality happens only when every person on the chain CARES. In this case, you need that marketing person to be proud of their responsibility. Then, that person needs to run all the necessary email lists to send the right message to the right people.

Connect Tone to Hospitality Experience

Keep in mind, this individual can ruin the guest experience by writing the email in the wrong tone of voice. So, what is the wrong tone? The wrong tone is a tone that lacks empathy. It reads like a service announcement. Or it is a purely functional message. For example, the wrong tone in this scenario looks like this: "Ms. Petrova, we write to inform you our internet is down." Do you see how the copy writer needs to be trained in hospitality? This writer can destroy the ROI of your technology investment to connect with your external internet provider! Just imagine, after all the processes that are in place and negotiations for the SLAs, your guest gets this message? The guest will still feel angry. They might even switch to another hotel! However, if your marketing team is trained in hospitality, the email will, first of all, go out to guests VERY quickly, in order to catch as many people as possible. And second, the email will read something like this: "Dear Ms. Petrova, Thank you for choosing us again for your visit to Las Vegas! We really appreciate the trust and loyalty you have in us! We value your experience with us and are writing to inform you that our internet will not be working this weekend. We are currently changing providers and have encountered some technical difficulties. To compensate you for the inconvenience, we will comp your resort tax for one night. We are looking forward to seeing you next time, when we will have the internet back online. Sincerely, Your Hospitality Team" Now that is an expression of hospitality!

Let's Talk About the Money

So, how do you actually take the charge off the bill without worrying your guest? On the surface, this is not complicated. You promised the guest you would do it. Now, you need to make the change in the billing system, right? Now, here are just some examples of why the person who made the promise is NOT the person who needs to make the update in the billing system. First, changes on charges can ONLY happen at check out. Second, the person who made the promise does not have access to the billing system. In our hospitality-driven organization, the person who committed to the adjustment is in marketing. And third, the person needs the approval of a supervisor to make the change to the bill. The list of complexities goes on and on and on. That is why we do journey maps. While I have mixed feelings about them, in a scenario like this, journey maps are a perfect tool to document who needs to do what to ensure hospitality is in action. In some cases, you resolve this with a good CRM (customer management) system. It allows all departments to see the guest. In other cases, you implement a process that connects marketing with finance. Whatever the solution you choose, it comes down to intentional, deliberate work. And investment BEFORE a disruption occurs, so when there is a service failure, the hospitality experience engine can activate, and loyal customers will keep coming back for more.

Hospitality Experience and Technology

Since we touched on technology, I would be remiss if I did not mention Ivy, my hotel's digital concierge. At best, Ivy was unfriendly. And at times, Ivy was clueless. At the EXACT moment when I called the front desk to ask for Wifi assistance, Ivy texted me saying she can help me with my WiFi password. Clearly, she did not get the memo that there would be no internet all weekend. At the very least, someone should have turned off that text message. At checkout, Ivy un-hospitably sent me a message with a link to check-out digitally, since "the lines can get long at check-out" (more on queues in our next article). She did not provide instructions for how to do that. And when I texted her about an error message, she did not respond. So Ivy was, to say the least, useless. And frustrating. She actually added to my dissatisfaction. The experience would have been better (and more hospitable) without the digital concierge. Imagine that! This casino actually spent money to erode a service level. Why? Because they thought, since IT is not a customer-facing function, it does not need to understand (or be involved with) the hospitality side of things. So, next time you wonder what hospitality is, remember this article. Motivate and empower all your employees to deliver empathy-driven, seamless experiences to your customers. Even if that means spending more dollars on training everyone (including yourself!) on the hospitality standards that your brand will drive and mapping out the right processes and technology to connect all parties involved in making the magic called hospitality happen! P.S. We can help!

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