Digital that enables omni-channel customer service

The recently concluded Gilbane 2013 conference in Boston urged enterprises to  "provide customers, employees, and partners with compelling digital experiences that – just work "(emphasis added). That is a pre-requisite "for a foundation to maintain competitiveness and to grow market share as well as support new business models and products."

The thrust was on "providing an engaging digital experience (that) requires creating and managing compelling content, measuring how effective the content is, building interfaces that are consistent yet appropriate for multiple digital channels, and integrating with e-commerce and enterprise systems."  Implicit in jargon is the suggestion that digital supplements not replaces human intuition in the customer service experience.

Laying out a road map for content and related technologies to build next-generation digital experiences for customers and employees with regard to hotels was Marriott's Senior Director, eCommerce Platform System Management. The hotel company's presentation discussed "key aspects of how the firm's website is moving beyond a traditional website to a "re-imagined, next generation multichannel content delivery platform with help from a partnership between marketing, technology, and analytics". That sounds  comprehensive and futuristic and hopefully will address a commonplace lacuna in today's digital content: a lack of live responses to customers. A majority of customers across industries seek to speak to a live person even if they use only digital to close the deal and too often "live" chat is anything but.

That a dynamic digital landscape often results in a less than perfectly cohesive digital response platform for customer service is also borne out by a recent worldwide survey of consumers by a UK based research agency, Loudhouse. Consumers believe brands are paying more attention to increasing sales through their different channels, rather than a cohesive customer service response mechanism that bridges channels.

All of the foregoing applies to hotels where companies have invested heavily in multi-channel distribution and and marketing although none have of them has reached anywhere near the latest level of sophistication unveiled by Apple's iBeacon whose opt-in locational tracking makes suggestions as customers browse the store. Perhaps when hotels embrace something similar, guests can similarly agree to opt-in at check-in and be notified of goings-on in a hotel or resort or have updates on their request for a late check-out or room service order while they go about their regular business.

Published by

Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.