Nordstrom was among the first clothing retailers to use texting to communicate with consumers in an effort to meld their online and physical experience. Not only can Nordstrom customers make purchases via text, but they can also reach sales associates directly without placing a call or waiting on hold. Lauded for its digital transformation, Nordstrom understands that consumers want real-time, direct communication. The fact that clothing retailers can benefit from SMS platforms really drives home that today’s consumer expects to interact via text with the brands with which that they do business.
Let’s look at some stats about this.
- 71% of 30-44 year-olds report they would text a business more frequently if the opportunity were offered, and bonus customers who message with businesses tend to have a 40% higher conversion rate than those who don’t (ZDNet).
- SMS open rates are as high as 98%, while email is 20% (CampaignMonitor).
- 82% of consumers expect an immediate response from companies, or well under 10 minutes (SmallBizTrends). Consumers expect texting responses to be faster than any other medium, including email.
- The most important attribute of good customer service is fast response time (SuperOffice).
If we look at hotel guests, however, we find that the interest in engaging via messaging increases markedly from the average consumer—90% of hotel guests report they find it useful to message with a hotel (eMarketer).
So, what do guests want? Essentially, guests want a front desk and concierge in their pocket. They want to check out via text. They want to ask common questions, such as what time does breakfast end? Or what’s the wifi password? They want to report problems without picking up a phone or standing in line. They want to make requests or order cocktails to be delivered to them in the lobby or by the pool. They even prefer to receive relevant offers, such as upgrades and ancillary appointments via their mobile device.
How can hotels respond? Operationally, texting with guests frees staff to respond to guest requests that absolutely require personal interaction. Hotels are also able to merchandise prime inventory via highly relevant and personalized texting, letting guests know that late checkout is available for an additional fee, for instance. And it helps hotels get in front of guest service problems that might otherwise be reported online. Time and time again, studies have validated the Service Recovery Paradox: guests give higher ratings to a stay when they’ve had a problem that’s been resolved expediently than do guests who have had no problems at all. Guest engagement via texting, then, improves guest service while also offering the opportunity to increase revenue per guest.
All that being said, not all SMS-enabled guest engagement technologies are created equal. In fact, it is not even a close call. As a critical guest service tool, the back-end of any such platform is as essential as the guest-facing functionality. A hotel that implements a system designed specifically to better connect with their guests via text can avoid the pitfalls of using a service that’s been, for instance, added on to an enterprise system like the PMS, CRM, or a system focused on back-of-the-house operations like internal request management. With the demand for automated responses on the rise, the ideal solution must deliver a hybrid human and AI guest service experience, as well as measure it all with business intelligence and analytical insights. This requires a level of sophistication that most chatbots and digital concierge solutions on the market just aren’t built for.
Further, most PMS/CRM texting solutions don’t build in schedulers or an alert system when the guest replies. It is just as important to automate routine activities as it is to keep staff members involved. This is especially important when a guest has a problem that requires attention. The system should offer total visibility to managers regarding the responsiveness of the staff. A well-designed platform also protects guest data and privacy and integrates with other systems to keep track of guest correspondence.
Today, most hotels recognize that messaging with guests can increase personalized service and satisfaction, and that finding that the right tool also drives operational efficiencies and revenue opportunities. The value creation of texting with guests, however, is only as strong as the back-end efficiencies it creates in terms of ensuring the proper escalation of guest concerns as well as built-in models for how and when to communicate with guests. Not every texting platform properly addresses both sides equally. When you’re evaluating systems, make sure to dig deep into both the guest-facing and the back-of-house functionalities to be sure the platform will truly elevate, not impede, your guest experience.
About Raj Singh
Product design expert Raj Singh is CEO at Go Moment®, a Google-backed company dedicated to making customer service instant. Go Moment’s award-winning smartconcierge Ivy®, as seen on NBC, is the world’s largest guest engagement automation platform for hotels.
Singh brings cross-discipline design, technology, and marketing experience from hundreds of large-scale technology projects for leading brands like Virgin, Lady Gaga, and HEB Grocery Company. Blending his deep expertise in UX and market research, Singh works alongside leaders in hospitality to address the industry’s needs in using next-generation technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and labor automation. In partnership with IBM Watson, Go Moment’s Ivy platform, which utilizes text or voice messaging and leverages human expertise and automation to resolve requests instantly, is currently available to millions of hotel guests. Singh’s select speaking engagements and panels include:
- HEDNA Innov8
- Oi Summit
- BLLA Stay Boutique Live
- Phocuswright Conference
- CWT VIP Summit
- Plug and Play Ventures
- Hotel Interactive BITAC
- IBM Insight
About Go Moment
Ivy®, powered by Go Moment®, is the world’s first smartconcierge for hotels. Ivy brings together human expertise and machine intelligence in a seamless experience for the guest. Via messaging, Ivy answers routine guest questions like “What’s the Wi-Fi password?” in less than one second, reducing calls and disruptions to the hotel staff. Ivy provides conveniences like fulfilling guest requests, booking restaurant reservations, and accessing offers that enhance the guest experience from anywhere, at any time. Ivy has served tens of millions of guests, and she’s often recognized in TripAdvisor reviews for providing exceptional service.
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