Take the Service Elevator to the Top Floor

Get the C-Suite Ready for Customer Experiences

By Roberta Nedry President & Founder, Hospitality Excellence, Inc. | January 31, 2016

Customer experience management is increasingly critical as a top investment area and skill essential for C-suite executives (some firms even have a CXO). What does that mean exactly and what do leaders need to do to ensure they are ready? How will they proactively acquire these skills and mindset when there is no single or even clear roadmap as to exactly what to do or how to do it? On top of that, the new science of customer emotions is inspiring even more considerations and most CEO's don't like to 'get emotional' about their business strategies! Some are finding their way in the dark. Yet, more and more evidence shows the direct relationship of emotional intelligence as part of the customer experience strategy. It's time to figure it out!

Gartner Incorporated, a leader in technology and research predicts that this year, 89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience, versus 36% four years ago. Another global study by customer experience solutions provider Amdocs revealed that the most commonly added new C-level roles hold responsibility for customer experience. CEO management styles will need to change and have the ability to inspire innovation and change in how and what experiences are delivered and how the organization will function to support them. "The study shows customer experience is becoming increasingly critical with CEO's of the largest service providers in the world viewing it as a top investment area in 2020," Eric Updyke, Group President of System integration and operations at Amdocs.

Studies like these support getting up to speed fairly quickly on customer experience management. How many executives know how to go about that and get these skills the market is now demanding and which trends are forecasting will be critical? Who will orient and train them so they can train, orient, lead and inspire their organizations which must deliver those experiences?

On top of that, social media provides today's consumers with lots of channels providing feedback on their personal customer experiences. Hospitality leaders and their organizations are getting lots of reviews and comments on the customer experiences they provide, whether they want them or not and whether they are designing them or not.

Executives must define, deliver and manage experiences that will rally employees to deliver better and more memorable experiences, matching or exceeding customer expectations. Going beyond brand loyalty and into the deeper science of emotional connections is essential for stronger guest loyalty and impressions.

Whether it's a conference center, a local restaurant or a leading international hotel, customer experience management needs to be in play and top of mind for business leaders, the hospitality industry and their teams. Each touchpoint, each point of customer contact will contribute to a comprehensive series of events that will yield the final experience impression. Each time the baton is passed, another mini-moment takes place and adds to the complete experience timeline and impact. How can those mini-moments be managed for maximum yield and how do leaders charge up their own customer experience skills and knowledge? How do those in the C-Suite make sure that C now stands for Customer Experience which will be essential to their long term success?

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.