Sure, I’ve been purposely provocative with the headline of this piece – but through many years of designing and developing people-centered, digitally-led experiences – I believe there is a fundamental need that hoteliers are overlooking when designing and implementing customer experiences that they should start to consider, investigate and improve.
To provide some context maybe I should call the article – stop trying to improve your customer experiences and focus on improving your human experiences.
You may well be thinking – human experiences? That sounds like another catchphrase created by the digital and specifically the digital marketing sector. Well although I am sure that will eventually be the case – where you will receive email or LinkedIn invitations for Human Experience Consultants and experts – the need for experiences to be designed, developed and delivered with the human (rather than a customer) at the core is not only gaining traction, but is the only route for service facing businesses.
- Let’s start by thinking about the number of touchpoints that may make up a customer’s engagement journey with you online and offline – OTA’s, social, your website, brochure, telephone, face to face.
- Then let’s look at the types of technology that they are using or exposed to smartphones, browsers, desktops, tablets, AR, VR, AI, Automated marketing, bots, blockchain, smart speakers……make it stop…. !!!
- No stopping now…. let’s think about the marketing angles, the adverts, pop-ups, social media ‘content’, PPC, SEO, radio, Sky TV, terrestrial…..
- Let’s target them, set up some attribution, track them, segment, force them to sign-up – it makes it sound like we are going to war with customers rather than trying to get them to enjoy a stay with us…
What a complete, desperate, unintelligible mess
And all focused on the customer, their engagement, their journey (well the journey we want them to take)… not at any stage focused on the human at the centre…
I take a different view.
One of the great unsaid truths of understanding customer behaviour is that you can’t really know what people are going to do – certainly not over the lifetime of any relationship you may have with them.
Humans are inherently contradictory, confusing, emotional and disinterested. Sure, we know that making a call to action orange may get more clicks, that by writing FREE results in increased ROI and that providing seven day trials to a SaaS (Software as a Service) product will increase sign-ups.
But over a number of years, when their life changes, when they get fed up with certain services, ask you to delete their data or when they turn off more and more of the wonderful cookies and tracking tools that you put on your site and into their browser – how are you going to build a valuable relationship with them?
You can begin to form a strategy by starting with the people at the centre of the relationship. Not your user. Not your customer. The human.
And by focusing on three iterative needs in any relationship that involves a human.
Attention. Respect. Trust.
Not hard really.
We hear a lot of people discuss that the most valuable commodity today – greater than gold, saffron and yes even Bitcoin…) is a customer’s attention. Their attention is being fought over by advertisers, newspapers, start-ups, corporates, content providers (i.e. everyone) all for the magic click, like, share and purchase.
The problem is very, very few businesses actually truly focus their own attention to their customers and their needs from a relationship. They rely on Google Analytics and surveys, TripAdvisor reviews and complaints rather than listening, conversing and observing.
It’s a completely disrespectful way of treating anyone – treating those that pay your wages, that keep you in business and will tell the truth about you and your business in that way? Are you nuts? You don’t need a multi-channel approach, an influencer plan, a UX team, a marketing strategy if at your business core – you have no respect for customers – you need to respect them, understand their individuality and their human behaviour – and yes, their contradictions.
Once, you have paid attention to your customers and treated them with respect in their interactions with you – you build true memorable and fulfilling experiences. From fulfilling experiences, trust is built. The golden goal, the holy grail – a customer that trusts you, a customer that comes to you, one that will pay more attention to you than your competition and one that respects your services, products and opinion (your content marketing strategy may then even work).
It comes from the heart, from your empathetic centre as a human – not as a hotelier or a digital marketer. It comes from truly paying attention to people, to their needs, giving them your respect and ultimately gaining their trust. It makes technology irrelevant and enables you to free yourself up from monitoring and focus on delivering a service.
Sure, there is more to developing people centred human experiences than I can outline in a brief article – and we’ve a Medium Journal where you can find out more about our thinking and our successes.
Businesses that deliver the best experiences are truly human centred, they pay attention, they respect their customers and they gain their trust. Ultimately, the future of business growth, customer loyalty and success within the hospitality sector may be digitally enabled, but its human-led.