How Online Booking Services are Enhancing Customer Experience

In the recent past, online booking and ticket reservation systems have experienced exponential growth across various industries. For instance, most people now book airline tickets and hotel rooms online before traveling. This trend is rapidly growing as businesses realize the convenience, cost effectiveness and efficiency it has to offer. Many companies are investing money to develop efficient and smart booking systems that are not only able to maximize revenues but also offer convenience to customers. Some of the most valuable aspects of online ticketing system are as follow:

Ability to Function 24/7

Enabling customers to book tickets online translates into keeping the business open round the clock, without any constraints of business hours and public holidays. Customers don’t have to worry about business hours or waiting in queue for their turn, as online ticketing completely revamps how tickets are purchased. Round the clock functionality is likely to increase revenue and sales for companies in addition to offering better customer experience. Furthermore, businesses can also integrate live chat on their websites and within mobile apps to help customers make reservations and answer their queries.

Offers Global Reach to Customers

With the rapid growth in digital technology, reaching out and conducting business across global markets has become easier. Due to evolution in web technologies, companies can now target a considerably larger market to sell their services and products. Similarly for customers, online booking opens up the possibility of looking at several different options in various parts of the world before making a buying decision. Businesses can now directly sell to customers all over the world and offer round the clock online customer support to enhance their experience.

The Websites offer Improved Interaction

Online booking systems offer a richer medium that is also interactive. The marketing messages, promotions and guidelines can be integrated in the form of audio, video or graphics for enhancing customer experience. Additionally, online bookings for airlines and trains is highly interactive, allowing customers to see the current booking situation and ability to choose the seat position, meal plan and other details. The experience dynamically adjusts to the unique needs of the clients hence making them part of the process.

Deals can be Personalized

One of the best customer service practices is to offer clients personalized service. Modern ticketing systems have the ability to deliver personalized marketing messages to individuals as well as groups. Algorithms-based ad engines that analyze the users’ browsing history generate ads, offers and promotions most relevant to customers in real-time. Ads are also based on individual characteristics and filtered settings. Filtering the results according to the unique needs and preferences of the clients saves time and money by finding the best deals for them. Data which is gathered based on buying preferences and background is organized and used to study and analyze the trends. Most online ticketing systems come with the ability to track the online activity of customers on the ticketing portal, which could help companies offer personalized recommendations based on individual preferences.

Customer Service Through Instant Messaging

One of the emerging trends in customer service best practices include communication through instant messaging services such as Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Line and website-integrated live chat. Many companies including Nordstrom and Zalando have started actively interacting with their clients through instant messaging service. Instant messaging offers unprecedented levels of flexibility and easy communication. There has been a dramatic shift in the way clients want to communicate with the brand: They want the interactions to take place on their turf, in a flexible and casual manner as opposed to overly-formal medium of communication. Being put on hold for an extended period of time or waiting for e-mail replies have become obsolete practices and clients are wary of putting themselves in those situations. At the same time, they want to ensure that their communication remains private. Instant messaging or texting has the potential to drastically change the way brands and consumers interact and this is gaining popularity as more and more companies jump on the bandwagon.

Why Businesses Need to Embrace the Trend

According to Forrester Research more than 45 percent of the North American online population actively uses instant messaging, at least once a week, with around 90 percent using the IM service on daily basis. Additionally, it has been estimated that 36 percent of mobile owners use an instant messaging app on their phone. This, essentially represents a huge proportion of customers for any company trying to interact with them. It only makes sense for companies to communicate with clients where they are most active and interactive.

It Offers Convenience

Instant messaging can be extremely convenient for both CS staff and the clients. A major proportion of written correspondence takes place through texts these days, people feel comfortable communicating and interacting through texts, which is exactly why companies need to capitalize this cultural trait and build a sizable presence in this domain. In the age of digital media, companies find themselves inches away from hitting the goldmine in the form of instant messaging for three main reasons:

  1. Instant messaging offers personalized customer service experience, without exponentially raising costs for companies. Direct, one-on-one contact with clients tends to have a strong impact compared to other channels accessible to companies. Individual requests and needs can be identified and fulfilled instantaneously.
  2. Real time communication ensures that there is no unnecessary delay or long waiting period, which in retail, mostly leads to customers dropping the purchase and moving on to other websites. E-commerce websites often lose business because of their inability to answer client queries in a regular manner.
  3. For e-commerce platforms, instant messaging can go beyond customer service and actually help brands carry out transactions through IM service. Businesses can allow clients to place orders directly through Whatsapp, a service that would be desirable for people who struggle with technology and complicated check-out procedures on websites. CSRs can take online orders after clients select the products from digital catalogues. Same holds true for problem-solving and complaint resolution: SMS triggered response from the service teams could go a long way to enhance the overall service experience.

It is cost effective

Customer service departments in the past have had to bear enormous costs pertaining to maintaining a call center, sophisticated phone equipment and workforce payroll to take calls or answer emails. Instant messaging does not require a lot of investment and the operational cost is also reasonable. CSRs can work in a flexible manner, even from home, which would allow companies to save costs and offer greater flexibility to the workforce. Also there is no need to hire dedicated CSRs to communicate through IM with clients, since the responsibility can be passed on to the sales staff in the store or the agents already working on other communication channels.

The Use of In-App Features to Enhance Customer Experience

If clients are regularly interacting with CSRs through IM apps, it would pave the way for brands to effectively utilize the in-app features in order to facilitate clients. Digital catalogues can be shared, in addition to sharing photos of new products/services. CSRs could also use location feature to determine the exact location of a client, which would ensure swift and safe delivery of products.

It Helps in Customer Relationship Management

Two-way messaging has a personal touch to it, which makes it extremely easy to approach clients in an informal manner. Such a conversation helps clients open up about their concerns and complaints, while it allows CSRs to find solutions in real-time. Communication through IM can potentially help CSRs foster a relationship on a personal level which entails to brand loyalty, increased sales and profits for a business.

It Offers a Platform for Marketing and Advertisement

IM communication offers an avenue for brands to directly advertise and promote their products and services. Many apps allow users to broadcast messages to a large audience, a feature that could be invaluable for companies trying to get a word out about new products or services. Moreover, advertisements can also be targeted towards specific clients who might have purchased a similar product in the past. Recommendations can be made based on personal taste and preference, once there is a strong relationship between CSRs and the customers.

The Importance of Customer Relationship Management

Customer relationship management is one of the most important aspects of effective customer service. Although the role of client relationship has drastically changed over the past few years due to the popularity of communication channels such as social networks but building personal relationships with clients is still important in order to create more value for them. Companies can develop and maintain strong relationships with clients through the following:

Investing in Human Resource Development

Companies should invest in developing their human resource, particularly sales and service staff. It should be ensured that people with the right skill set and qualifications are hired to interact with clients. Moreover, customer service training and workshops could be organized to further enhance the skills of the current workforce.

Offering Value-Added services

In order to develop lasting customer relationships, it is important to offer value-added services such as after-sales support, advice and fulfilling the unique needs of individual groups of clients. Additionally, it must be ensured that the service standards are maintained and clients don’t have to face any form of inconvenience during the shopping experience.

Benefits of Successful Customer Relationship Management

 

Results in Customer Satisfaction

Companies that spend time and energy on building and maintaining strong relationships with their clients often experience rising customer satisfaction levels, which is mainly because clients feel more comfortable when they know the CSRs on a personal level, from whom they can seek advice and recommendations.

Provides an Opportunity to Learn More about Customers

Staying in touch with clients and interacting with them on a regular basis, helps a business gain insight into their expectations. In order to stay competitive, it is important for any business to know its clients and anticipate their future needs. This can done by building strong, reliable communication channels, which will allow the flow of information from consumers to the company in a seamless fashion. Information can be a powerful tool for most companies, since it is the foundation upon which companies can innovate, experiment and market new products and services.

Brings You Word of Mouth Referrals

Customers are more likely to recommend a particular product or service to their friends or family if they receive high quality service experience. Word-of-mouth promotion has proven to be an effective avenue to create hype and promote a trend among customers. It has an added benefit of being highly cost-effective since the company doesn’t have to spend directly on marketing and promotion.

Enhances Customer Loyalty

Effective client relationship management enables a brand to induce customer loyalty, which in turn translates into repeat sales for the company. The greater volume of sales also means higher revenues and profits for the brand in addition to growth. Customer loyalty also provides the opportunity for companies to effectively cross-sell since loyal clients already trust the quality of products and services, they wouldn’t hesitate to try other products and services that are being offered by that particular brand.

Encourages Insightful Feedback from Customers

Strong relationships with clients can play a significant role in terms of collecting insightful, reliable and timely feedback from them. Clients are more likely to be honest about their feedback if relationship between the company and them is based on mutual trust and understanding. The feedback can be invaluable, since it has the potential to aid the next innovation for the company. Feedback is also important to ensure the level of service quality in line with the competition and consumer expectations. Any flaws, shortcomings or discrepancies in the service delivery or the products can be instantaneously recognized through feedback, along with possible suggestions as corrective measures. Consequently, honest feedback can create a cycle of continuous improvement that not only adds value to the brand but also helps the company achieve the pinnacle of customer service excellence.

5 Useful Tips on Developing a Loyal Customer Base

Every business strives to gain customer loyalty since it leads to recurrent purchases. It is important to note that businesses with a loyal client base spend less on persuasive marketing because their clients are willing to purchase their products and services anyway. In today’s competitive environment it is difficult for businesses to maintain loyalty as there are a multitude of options for customers out there. At the same time, businesses are inclined to innovate and spend millions on research and development, which might constrict their budget for marketing. Some of the ways through which companies can try to gain and maintain loyalty are as follow:

Innovating the Products/Service for Customers

Companies should focus on developing and presenting their offers in such a way that clients perceive them as unique and different from competitors. Companies can use effective marketing techniques to pinpoint and highlight the unique features and attributes of their offers. Companies like Ralph Lauren, Old Navy and Levi Strauss & Co have developed a brand perception that revolves around a unique image and lifestyle, which customers try to emulate by buying their products. Essentially, these companies are selling apparel but because of the brand affinity that has developed due to a distinctive brand name and products, these companies are maintaining a loyal following.

Giving Value-Added Services to Clients

Another way to ensure customer loyalty is offering value-added services as an addition to the core offers. Companies have the resources to offer additional services without exponential increase in costs. For instance, Microsoft’s Windows comes with online driver support, upgrades and additional downloadable features. Offering value-added services creates a positive perception in the minds of customers, since it sends out a clear message that their relationship with the company doesn’t end with the purchase. Moreover, offering value-added services also translates into on-going interaction with clients, hence assisting the process of client relationship management and cross-selling.

Offering Exclusivity to Customers

Many companies try to create a feeling of exclusivity for clients in an attempt to garner a loyal following. It is important for companies to acknowledge that although it might not be feasible to offer distinct products and services to individual clients, there are ways through which some level of exclusivity can be offered without completely changing the business model. Companies like Nike and Apple are known to offer limited-edition products which customers seek to collect by making more purchases or participating in a luck draw. Additionally, many companies have been experimenting with customized products – allowing clients to tweak, personalize and slightly change the products and services to add the element of exclusivity. For example, HP allows clients to design their own laptops with technical and physical specifications according to their preference. Banks and insurance companies often offer their clients special accounts and policies to better serve their needs.

Implementing Client Feedback

Companies can also earn loyalty by acting on the feedback provided by customers. Most companies are very keen on collecting feedback from clients but only a few take the recommendations/suggestions seriously and develop an action plan based on them. It is important to develop a feedback mechanism, through which a company can turn the feedback into actionable data. Feedback from clients can be invaluable for the company in the context of developing new products and services. Additionally, honest feedback from clients sets the company on a course to seek continuous improvement in service delivery and design.

Acknowledge Your Mistakes

One thing common among all the companies that have been able to develop a loyal customer base is their willingness to acknowledge their shortcomings in terms of product design or service delivery. It is important to learn from their mistakes and thrive to offer better services in future. At the same time, sincere apology and compensation should be offered to clients who have been inconvenienced. Managers can depend on feedback to gain perspective about how the clients feel about their offers and can take steps to modify the service experience according to their expectations to achieve higher levels of customer satisfaction.

How Customer Experience Mapping Can Help Improve Service

Customer experience mapping is one of the most useful techniques to analyze the quality of customer experience from customers’ perspective. The analysis takes into account all interactions taking place between clients and the company, starting from the point when first contact is made, leading up to after-sales services. For businesses, it is important to understand how consumers make decisions. Experience mapping helps breakdown customer interaction processes in order to help managers understand and create better experiences.

Creating Customer Experience Maps

The first step in creating maps involves throrougly studying consumer behavior and interactions . Managers must first identify all touchpoints and channels being used to interact with clients. Ideally, a large sample size is selected that represents customers from varying demograhics. The information can be collected from various sources including call logs, surveys, personal interviews, feedback comments, customer conversations on social media platforms and focus groups. Many companies have successfully intergrated the use of big data in order to collect information for customer experience maps. Once this information is collected, it has to be processed into meaningful insight that can help managers create a customer journey model. Conventionally, the experience map is created into a visually appealing story containing a timeline, touchpoints and other milestones in the customer journey. It is important that the experience map is created from the customers‘ presepctive.

Experience Maps Help Analyze and Innvoate

Experience maps are designed to study and improve service experience, they help managers completly dissect the whole experience into distinct phases that can be studied and analyzed individually. It helps managers create a roadmap for better experience in the future. Moreover, it creates opportunities for new idea generation and innovation. The technique uses qualitative and quantitative data, hence providing multidimensional insight into the service process. By taking all market segments and demographics into account, the technique offers a promising analysis and understanding of the problem areas. Experience maps enable managers to send out a message to all departments for creating consistency. With the help of maps, complex customer service procedures can be illustrated in flowcharts and timelines. This is extremely helpful for managers, since a better understanding of current procedures is likely to assist them to design improved service protocols in the future.

Boosts Collaboration Between Departments and Teams

Experience mapping not only helps managers but also enables CSRs to pinpoint loopholes or weaknesses in service delivery. Managers can use these maps to effectively plan and coordinate with their team members on future course of action. Additionally, it also aids communication across departments in an attempt to win their support to provide quality experiences. Through the use of experience maps, delivering better service becomes a company-wide goal as opposed to something only customer service departments look into.

Promotes Continuous Improvement

The process of customer experience mapping encourages managers to continuously find ways to improve experience. As visual illustrations are available for managers to analyze, it enables them to highlight the pain points for clients, and effectively coordinate with other departments to address shortcomings. Experience mapping also provides a way for managers to assess the current level of service and analyze it by taking internal feedback. This process makes it easier for managers to involve frontline representatives in an attempt to create new solutions for creating better client experience.