Digital consultancy CAB Studios say that whilst disruptive technology has huge potential to transform customer experience, hospitality brands need to exercise caution when applying it; avoiding gimmicks and still placing a strong emphasis on the human touch. This is according to CAB’s new White Paper ‘Power to the Customer’, which explores how brands must evolve in the customer age, and what marketers need to do to keep pace.
CAB Studios, whose hospitality client list includes PizzaExpress, Jamie’s Italian, Côte Brasserie and Exclusive Hotels and Venues, commissioned the White Paper to explore the evolving relationship brands have with their customers, in a world where the customer is defining strategy, and has greater influence than ever before. In addition to exploring the challenges of managing big data, the importance of peer to peer reviews and the intricacies of managing multiple channels and customer touchpoints, CAB also looked at emerging forms of technology and the impact they could have on customer experience. For example, Psychological profiling powered by AI, which could help create complex audience portraits for hospitality brands, or haptics; the science of applying touch sensation and control to interaction with a computer or Smartphone/Tablet.
Luke Battye, Strategy Director at CAB Studios said, “It’s no surprise that service industries like hospitality feel a particular pressure to deliver the most engaging tech enabled experiences. Hotels are a good example; customers now expect things like the ability to control the aircon in their room via Smartphone, or be presented with ‘extras’ tailored to their interests and needs such as gym passes, or allergy friendly refreshments in their room. It’s impossible for a hotel brand to deliver this without continued investment in technology, but it needs to be done with caution. Although processes like automated check in can feel slick and efficient, a recent survey found that nearly 60% of guests still prefer having a conversation with someone on the reception desk when they arrive.
“The same applies in restaurants, however some high-end brands are turning their attention to employee focused technology which enhances the human touch rather than superseding it. For example, a member of waiting staff at an airport restaurant can immediately access information about what flight a diner is on, so they know whether they have time for another drink, or if they should direct them to parts of the menu with a shorter preparation time.
“With technology now capable of powering many steps on the customer journey, the human interaction part is more important than it was before. Hospitality brands must keep a sharp focus on this.”
Tim Love, Senior Social Manager from PizzaExpress, whom CAB are working with to create a new customer loyalty app agrees. He said, “We are continually reviewing the ways in which we interact with customers and how technology can support, but definitely not replace the human touch. For example, we launched our Facebook bot earlier this year, and have been amazed by how many people have interacted with it, especially when you consider that bots weren’t around 12 months ago. We’re excited about its potential to help us learn more about our customers so we can surprise and delight them. All we’ve done is make life easier for our customers, which is what we always want to do. But we don’t want that to replace interaction with our teams once they’re in the restaurant.”
CAB’s White Paper, Power to the Customer is available to download from their website here