Tag Archive travel

Tomorrow’s home away from home: Custom-fit customer experience design*

This article was first published on Nunwood.com – the Customer Experience Blog. It is the exclusive property of KPMG Nunwood, part of KPMG in the UK.

It is estimated that there are, around the world, more than 13.4 Million hotel rooms available every night. And if we were to add all other properties such as Airbnb, the number would be much larger. With so many rooms available, it was only a matter of time before customer experience design was to work its magic and transform these rooms into your home away from home. Leaving the traditional hotel behind, new thinking is transforming the industry, ensuring customers will find options that are always closer to what “home” really means for them.

As a nod to our latest article on customer experience design in fashion retail, the approaches we explore today are not designed to cater to every hotel guest.

Your room, your terms!

For most of us, being away from home and our loved ones is hard enough. If we need to adapt ourselves to a standard we do not usually abide by, it just gets more uncomfortable. Cachet World is the platform which understood the burden this represents to you. This solution vendor offers dynamic packaging capabilities. In other words, guests can customise their room from the bedding to the brand of shampoo and other perks. Gone are the days when you had to use the hotel branded shampoo that somehow ruins your hairstyle rather than sublimate it.

In the age of digital and personalised service, Cachet World takes you away from the one-size-fits all hotel room, ensuring guests can model the room to their individual needs and lifestyle. Any hotel adopting such an approach to customer experience design is in an enviable position to strategically drive their performance in the Personalisation and Time & Effort Pillars of Customer Experience Excellence.

Feeling at home while being away

Whilst the above example brings your hotel room as physically close as possible to what home means, another approach consists of making you feel at home by ensuring you can keep your habits.

At Hotel Buddy, in Germany, there is no staff at all, no reception clerk, nor breakfast waiters the next day. The hotel has been designed to let customers check in within minutes, grab the key and go to the room, without the need to utter a word. This is as close from home one could get.

The room offers all the amenities one could expect from being at home: free high-speed Wi-Fi, free coffee and breakfast and for the more tech-savvy: a smart TV and a tablet. This is complemented by express check-in and out. In this specific situation, the objective of the customer experience design is unequivocal: getting as close as possible to the habits and feelings of being at home.

Moving forward

Whilst these models won’t disrupt the industry in its totality, there are other innovations that have a broader appeal. Replacing the key to your room is one of the hottest trends of the last few years in customer experience design. We started the move from physical keys to key cards in the 1980s, our decade is focusing on eliminating the key altogether: some integrate it to your Smartphone, like Hilton with their HHonors App, others replace it with some wearables, such as PDC’s Smart Band® with a wristband (or a smartwatch for others). Similarly to the ATM for banks, the hotel key card is meeting an increasing number of alternatives to replaced it as the industry’s standard.

These CX efforts have wide-ranging applications and should inspire many on how experiences could be redesigned – including through the removal of a journey stage altogether.

Take this inspiration home, consider how to apply it in your industry and sleep on it. As the saying goes, the night brings counsel.

 

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Customer experience strategy: sometimes, less is more*

This article was first published on Nunwood.com – the Customer Experience Blog. It is the exclusive property of KPMG Nunwood, part of KPMG in the UK. It was re-published on Enage Customer.

The Jazz genius Miles Davis, behind Kind of Blue and Tutu, was one of the most influential musicians of the past century. To this day, his words keep inspiring and even offer us a simple but powerful rule in customer experience strategy:

“I always listen to what I can leave out.” 

Although referring to his compositions, this approach is extremely fitting for one key practice of customer experience strategy: journey mapping. Businesses, with a vision of delighting customers, tend to provide fancy and overly complex journeys, with many stages to showcase their expertise and wealth of services. It doesn’t have to be that way though, and the leading companies understand this.

When a journey stage becomes obsolete

Many industries were born way before our age of technology and abundance of data. When an innovation comes along, companies have shown to be able to adapt themselves (retailtravel or financial services have been a few we have observed recently). However, what happens when a process becomes outdated? The answer is “take it away” – or leave it out, to pay tribute to Miles Davis – and unfortunately, companies are not always as quick to acknowledge and act upon this.

There are some companies, however, that are bold enough to do so. JetBlue Airways realised that the once necessary check-in process for a flight no longer had a reason to exist. Put in place at an age and time where airlines depended on travel agents to sell seats and manage its inventory, the check-in principally served to ensure you were at the airport so that they knew where you were. With today’s technology and fast-moving operations, the process no longer had a reason to exist. Whilst many airlines decided to simplify the process by providing online check-in, JetBlue went the extra step and understood it could leave it out.

As a consequence, JetBlue passengers are automatically checked in for their flights, with seat allocation based on their travel history and preferences. With staff being freed up from this procedure, it provided them with more opportunities to service and delight their passengers before the flight. This certainly contributes greatly to a good performance in Time & Effort, Expectations and Empathy.

Companies like JetBlue demonstrate that a good strategy can be taking steps away, rather than adding in. Or as Miles Davis would aptly say:

“If you don’t know what to play, play nothing.”

This translates into a key rule of customer experience strategy: if you don’t know what value the stage brings, leave it out.

Eating out – at its simplest

The restaurant industry is another example of how simplifying the experience can transform the journey of the customer. Many restaurants have adopted a connected approach to delivering their services, with orders going directly from the ordering terminal (nowadays, often a smartphone or tablet) to the kitchen, without the waiter even leaving your table. Sometimes, I get served my entrees whilst my party is still chatting with the waiter.

The pattern we mentioned with the airline industry is clearly found here again. Whilst the connected system has been widely implemented, very few went another route. Eatsa, a new Californian restaurant, decided to strip the experience down to its simplest.

Eatsa is unique in that there is no human interaction required for you to enjoy your meal – although the restaurant is staffed. Come in and order your food on a tablet kiosk. The team in the kitchen will prepare your food and it will come to you. When the food is ready and served, the appropriate locker will display the customers’ name and light up. Take your order and enjoy it. Next time, the system will even remember your past visits and recommend dishes you might like to try.

Eatsa’s customer experience strategy clearly differs from the rest of the industry. The fact that they recently announced expansion plans hints to the idea that many customers are buying into the concept. One question being: how would service failure be addressed in these cases?

The key learning from our two examples can, once more, be summed up using Miles Davis’ own words:

“It’s not about standing still and becoming safe. If anybody wants to keep creating they have to be about change.”

More often than not, excellent customer experience strategy is about change: seeing how things are being done and how to change this for the better. Always look for what you can leave out. After all, sometimes, less is more.

 

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Reinventing travel through customer experience design*

This article was first published on Nunwood.com – the Customer Experience Blog. It is the exclusive property of KPMG Nunwood, part of KPMG in the UK. It was also re-published on Engage Customer.

There is no contest the digital era completely changed our lives. We discussed last week its effect on retail and how retailers are now adopting digital into their strategies. Today, we’re focusing on how technology and new entrants in the industry have redefined how we travel.

The internet allowed for companies to operate without the high fixed costs of a developed brick and mortar network, increased collaboration across a territory and an easier access to their customers.

The emergence of low-cost airlines – partly driven by this evolution – gave access to travelling to a much larger population than ever before. As a consequence, the likes of EasyJet and RyanAir in Europe or Southwest Airlines and JetBlue (52nd in the 2015 US CEE Ranking) in the United States put a major pressure on the traditional carriers to justify the price premium they request for their services.

This is a great opportunity to explore two ways customer experience design innovation is redefining the way we travel, be it by rail or by plane.

American Airlines now in control of their customers’ wider journey

One of the major Achilles’ tendon of the airlines industry is its dependency to third parties. The way to and from the airport, together with the journey and services within the airport are outside of the airline’s control. Therefore, there always is a risk for the experience of the traveller to go south although the airline having done everything perfectly. The performance and success of airlines lies in part in the hands of these partners. American Airlines decided to address this lack of control by launching a partnership with Uber, the ride sharing app.

When customers receive their booking confirmation for their AA flight, a clickable link “Remind me to Uber” will be included in the email. This feature is currently available across 11 airports in 10 American cities. The partnership becomes even more interesting for AAdvantage members (their frequent flyers programme) with a certain status, as they are benefiting from a $25 off voucher for their next Uber ride (regardless of whether they are Uber customer or not). Customers owning an American Airline’s credit card will receive bonus miles for all Uber rides taken until July 31st 2016.

By encouraging its customers to use Uber to travel to and from the airport, AA can work towards offering a better journey to its customers, by making Uber directly accountable for this part of the customer journey.

Plan your train journey with a video call

Flying is not part of most people’s daily commute, unlike rail travel. One of the most exciting customer experience design inventions is brought to us by Cubic Transportation Systems, the company which co-developed Transport for London’s contactless payment system in its Underground network.

The NextAgentTM is a virtual ticketing agent system. In a nutshell, this machine combines a ticketing office and a help desk with a video call. Customers can communicate in real time with a real life expert through a video link. This all-in-one machine ensures customers are serviced in a prompt and consistent manner across the rail (metro or train) network, from the busy metropolis to the secluded or underserved train station.

In terms of customer experience design, this contributes greatly to the Time & EffortExpectations and Personalisation pillars across the rail network.

The system was first announced in 2013. Deutsche Bahn (the German railway company) was reportedly trialling it in the same year. Since 2015, the railway company Abellio Greater Anglia (in the UK) has been trialling the system which has received a positive response from customers. As a matter of fact, the system has been so successful that in February 2016 the company decided to add these terminals within the Stansted Airport rail station.

The next few years will tell if this technology will spread across the different rail networks and revolutionise rail travel for good despite its important infrastructure requirements.

 

 

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