Leveraging Cloud Communications to Improve Omnichannel Customer Strategies
Investing in omnichannel customer communication strategies is becoming a promising approach for business decision makers looking to deliver increased ROI on their customer service IT investments. A report by Aberdeen Group found that companies with strong omnichannel customer engagement retain on average 89% of their customers, compared to 33% retention for companies with weak omnichannel customer engagement. In addition, 87% of customers think brands need to put more effort into providing a seamless user experience, according to a report by Zendesk.
Omnichannel “at the edge” strategies are surfacing as a more effective multichannel approach to sales and customer service because they provide customers with control over the medium they use to interact with a company (i.e. texting, calling, email, website, face to face, etc.). Pushing the control allowed to customers to the “Point of Service” in an omnichannel at the edge setting enables seamless and personalized interactions at every step of the customer journey. In the hospitality industry, investing in IT that provides guests with this autonomy and caliber of service is vital to ensure customers continue to return to the hotel or restaurant.
Modern guests also have higher expectations for immediate and tailored customer service, which hotels can now provide thanks to having access to the technologies required to move omnichannel communication to the edge. As a result, hospitality decision makers that invest in the tools to improve overall user experience will see direct improvements to their businesses’ bottom lines.
Below are three effective ways decision makers in the hospitality industry can evolve their guests’ experiences by moving their omnichannel strategies to the edge.
Connect touchpoints within the cloud
If a guest reserves a hotel room via Expedia or another third-party reservation app, they expect the front desk attendant at the hotel to have access to their reservation, room rate and any other interactions in real-time. However, this is not always the case (despite 90% of consumers expecting the customer experience to be consistent across channels and devices). The disconnect between a customer’s expectations and hotel attendant’s insight is frustrating for both parties and can be especially detrimental for hotels and restaurants that rely on repeat guests and word-of-mouth recommendations.
Moving internal processes to the cloud can help bridge gaps in communication by providing on-site staff and contact center representatives real-time access to guest information, as well as context on past interactions. This could include a guest’s travel plans collected through a third-party app (i.e. TripAdvisor) or other booking tools such as Hotels.com or Travelocity.
Further, tracking the context of guests’ interactions with a business provides service representatives with visibility into the customer journey. This visibility enables streamlined interactions between both parties by removing the need to rehash past questions, an understandably frustrating situation for guests. The ability to connect communication across every phase of the customer experience will result in improved customer service, which directly impacts guest satisfaction.
Selecting the right cloud-based tools
Given effective and real-time communication is the means to improved customer engagement, leveraging modern telecom offerings will be the best way for a hotel or restaurant to evolve their customer communication strategies. Telecom Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), are an example of a modern cloud-based communication tool that enables businesses to integrate communication services (i.e. calling, messaging, video chat, etc.) directly into existing property and guest management systems.
Also, as Generation Z becomes a larger part of the consumer market and end users continue to gravitate toward SMS communications, leveraging telecom APIs will become crucial for businesses. Whether through a cloud communication provider or a third-party messaging company, telecom APIs let hotels and restaurants easily integrate texting for reservation reminders or to share other updates.
Telecom APIs work behind the scenes to power omnichannel communication strategies at the edge by giving customers the flexibility to choose how they interact with a brand. However, not all hotel or restaurant guests prefer texting, so the option to connect with a hotel across a variety of platforms or mediums is a smart strategy to keep a largely diverse customer base happy.
Partnering with a cloud-based communications provider
For hotels and restaurants interested in leveraging telecom APIs – and that have already started to automate operations by moving processes to the cloud – a wise next step would be to partner with a cloud-based communication service provider (CSP). Partnering with a CSP allows businesses to continue scaling communication offerings to optimize customer experience and engagement.
Cloud-based providers deliver voice and messaging over a high-speed internet connection and have emerged as an increasingly popular, cost-effective and reliable alternative to traditional telecom providers. For businesses in the hospitality industry needing specific industry-tailored solutions (i.e. reservation text reminders or cloud-based contact centers), turning to agile providers that specialize in these areas can help ensure the best results.
For example, Blueface, a company that builds API-enabled cloud calling platforms, and Message Hopper, a high-speed API-driven messaging platform enabling two-way communications, can help a hotel or restaurant quickly take advantage of ready-to-run cloud-based services. These enterprise systems make it easier for a business to provide customers with direct communication – and can support omnichannel at the edge – without having to build out their own code and invest in on-premise IT resources.
In a world where streamlined experiences and quality customer service directly impact customer satisfaction, the hospitality industry has an opportunity to take charge of their technological future and evolve their offerings by investing in cloud-based telecom tools. Leveraging cloud telecom tools such as APIs, will help these businesses move their omnichannel customer communication strategies to the edge and as a result, grow market share.
Daniel (Dan) Hastings is the director of enterprise solutions for Flowroute, now part of Intrado. He has more than two decades of management experience in the global IT and communications industries. Dan has a track record of transforming business relationships, building global teams and translating customer needs into technical solutions. In his current role, he manages diverse global and technical enterprise customer and vendor relationships.