Texting as a Customer Engagement Channel

By Benjamin Jost Co-Founder & CEO, TrustYou | December 10, 2017

Guests constantly hop across different communication channels. To keep pace with them, hotels must migrate through these various platforms to remain engaged. Most modern hotel executives recognize the importance of communicating with guests on the medium in which they are most comfortable. However, identifying and implementing approaches that makes these meetings possible can be more difficult than these executives consider. After all, anyone can send a text message. But meeting and tracking an SLA across an SMS creates an entirely new set of hurdles.

Let’s momentarily set aside the challenges to discuss the benefits of implementing a messaging solution in a hotel setting. Implementing a messaging platform that enables easy communication with customers can mean less time spent trying to reach out to individual customers. We all have witnessed and experienced the time when hotel employees called their guests directly to confirm reservations and receive feedback. From phone calls, the industry progressed to utilizing emails for customer communication. Now we’re seeing hotels communicate through various social media channels and even text messages (SMS) to engage with their guests.

Messaging can directly serve the folks staying at your facilities. From a customer perspective, a hotel that incorporates a robust messaging platform offers convenience. Guests can communicate and provide feedback to hotels by using the venue in which they’re most comfortable, from Facebook Messenger to email to text messaging.

Some hotels have even begun working with external technology vendors or created self-made apps to chat with their guests. Regardless of the approach, incorporating messaging into customer experiences means that employees are spending less time calling individual guests. This transformation creates a faster way of handling communication. In addition, if hotels can manage all conversations on one platform, they can improve workplace efficiency.

Benefits of messaging technologies go beyond simply “speed.” Hotels can utilize their newfound agility to engage guests more frequently and provide more services. Many of our hotel clients incorporate messaging directly before, or even during a guest’s stay. A quick text message asking for special requests can make a guest feel more welcome and develop a more organic interest in them as individuals. Next time you stay at a hotel, consider how sending a text asking for extra pillows, and simply having them in the room upon your arrival would impact your view of that hotel. Speed allows for better service, which drives higher satisfaction and increases the likeliness of return visits.

Another benefit that hotels can gain by employing messaging is the the ability to resolve issues quickly and efficiently. To quote a common idiom “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Many guests are uncomfortable calling the front desk with minor issues, feeling as though they’ll come across as being a “bother.” Many of these same customers are far more comfortable putting these concerns into text, either in a message so that a hotel can act instantly, or in a negative online review after their stay, placing hotels in a defensive position.

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Coming up in April 2018...

Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.