Good customer service is key to any business’s success. But nowhere is a happy customer more important than in the hospitality industry, where guests look to staff to help them make their hotel experience as relaxing and comfortable as possible.
Messaging tools can be extremely effective and can provide hotels with an opportunity to turn negative guest experiences into positive ones in real-time. Automating aspects of the customer experience can enable teams to make an even bigger impact when resolving issues in the moment. However, even with automation, it is important that guests feel it’s a natural extension of their experience, and as needed, there’s a person at the other end available to make their experience better.
At Medallia, we understand that it can be difficult to make automated messages feel personal. Fortunately, with the right setup, it is possible to utilize forward-thinking messaging tools in a way that provides that human touch.
Here are six ways that you can “humanize” messaging tools at your properties:
Segmenting your messages by audience goes a long way toward humanizing any messages directed to your guests. There shouldn’t be a generic one-size-fits-all approach to developing a centralized messaging strategy for your guest communications. Your message should reflect that your hotel knows who it’s speaking to.
Returning guests should be welcomed back and not sent the same messaging as a brand new guest visiting your website for the first time. A “welcome back” message can make guests feel as if your hotel values them or noticed that they’ve visited in the past.
Both the tone and the message itself should be personalized to the individual and the appropriate situation. This can be as simple as referencing a guest by their first name or by acknowledging the details of their current reservation.
If a guest is using a messaging tool to share constructive feedback about their experience, a peppy and generic message may further frustrate them. Ideally, the message the unhappy guest receives should be empathetic to their needs and concerns.
Be Where Your Guests Are
Today consumers expect to be able to reach companies across multiple channels, including websites, text messages, social media, and of course during an experience in a hotel.
However, you want to avoid creating barriers for all guests by asking them to download a specific mobile app or sign up for an account in order to contact your team. Be where your guests are and improve their experience by making it easy for them to contact you.
If a certain app or communication method is preferred in a specific region or demographic, it is important to be able to interact on that channel. For instance, using WeChat in China is important to be able to interact with your customer base.
If your guests can message you across multiple channels, it is helpful to have a consolidated inbox to respond to all messages, no matter how they got in touch. This way, your team can respond to guests across all platforms, via a single customer experience management dashboard. This ensures employees won’t have to constantly check multiple platforms and accounts.
Strategize When Human Interaction is Necessary
If you use automated messaging, it is critical to have a plan in place that connects guests live to a member of your team when appropriate. How do you separate who needs to speak with a human and who can achieve their goal faster by just using an AI service?
The solution can be as simple as having the guest answer a few easy questions when they start communicating. When a guest expresses dissatisfaction, they should go directly to a real person.
Keep in mind that only being able to communicate through automated messages can be frustrating. While these kinds of tools can be helpful, guests should have the option to talk with a human who is able to jump in. Although it can come close, an automated tool can’t solve everything.
Learn, Change, and Adapt
When it comes to messaging, it’s important to learn how to address everything that’s happening in your organization at scale. This means maintaining an awareness of what else is going on during a guest’s experience and bringing that awareness into your message personalization strategy.
For example, if someone sends a message at 7 p.m., it can be more helpful to let them know about an event that’s available to them at 7:30 p.m. versus sending yet another welcome message. The next step hotels can take is learning trends in needs and expectations from guests and implementing company-wide change to adapt to customer needs.
Guests have certain expectations of the brands they love. Your guests should feel that they will receive the same level of service, whether they call your customer service line or use your messaging interface. The personal feeling and direct responses they receive should be consistent across your whole brand.
In addition, establishing a messaging strategy across an enterprise can surface powerful insights about how guests interact with your brand, and the pain points they encounter to surface great ideas for system-wide change.
As we’ve explained, using chatbots and instant messaging services, like Zingle by Medallia, can be beneficial in providing immediate responses to guest inquiries. However, be wary of a “set it and forget it” mentality. Working to humanize messaging tools, even if it means having a staff member available to address more complex needs, can make a big difference in the guest experience.