Texting Makes Real-Time CRM a Reality for Hotels

By Matt Schvimmer Chief Marketing Officer, Zingle, Inc. | March 05, 2017

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a tried and true method of connecting with guests and customers across a number of platforms including websites, social media, apps, live chat, email and phone. Selecting a CRM software solution is notoriously laborious and the software itself has the reputation of being expensive and hard to implement. Hotels and hospitality organizations who operate at a local level, and thrive on the relationships they have in the community, need a nimble, real-time CRM solution to engage with their guests and be responsive to their service needs. Although mobile technology has certainly equipped hospitality teams with more on-the-go solutions such as apps and responsive websites, customer relationship solutions that are truly real-time for both the organization and the guest, have not been available.

The need for real-time CRM is definitely a product of today's society. Today, people expect instant gratification and near instant responses from the companies and brands they interact with. A 24-hour response time is no longer acceptable for any inquiry, and of course in the high-demand environment of hospitality, response times are measured in minutes, not in hours.

The widespread adoption of texting and ubiquity of mobile devices has now made real-time CRM a possibility. Ninety-seven percent of texts are opened and read within the first three minutes. The benefits of this instant connection with guests are numerous. Hotels and clubs alike are experiencing benefits that include more personal and frequent engagement with guests, better operational efficiency, more income and the coveted goal of increased guest loyalty. Texting platforms are also scalable and approachable for 100-room properties or 1,000-room properties and beyond.

Personal, Ongoing Text Conversations Are Key to Guest Engagement and Decreased Calls
Texting allows you to interact with your guests in the moment and in a more conversational tone, while establishing two-way communication. An ongoing, threaded text conversation mimics how people interact with each other in their everyday lives, which also means that when guests are texting their hotel, restaurant or club they are building a more personal connection than ever before.

For example, Hotel Del Coronado, the 129-year-old legendary oceanfront beach resort located in San Diego, adopted texting as a real-time CRM tool last year. In less than four months, the number of texts they received from guests doubled, which reduced its inbound call traffic and response times. The efficiency of texting with guests is tremendous. Staff members using a texting platform can manage multiple conversations at once, compared to phone calls that last much longer and can only be managed one at a time. Since the record of the text conversation remains stored in a platform, other team members can pick up the same conversation when their shifts start. The customer records stay with the property, despite any staff turn-over that may occur.

**Guests Relationships Thrive on Communications Continuity**

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. 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.