It’s good to ask your customer how was everything. It’s so much better to ask how is everything.
Learning in real time enables you to receive and process customer feedback so you can act and influence the outcome.
The team at the Hilton hotel in Fort Collins, CO embraces this philosophy. They reached out to me before and during my recent visit.
The first text message popped-up the day of check-in:
Message two pinged me the next day:
My stay was fine and I didn’t need to use this communication system. I was impressed and intrigued, though. When I checked out, I chatted about the customer relationship approach with Austin Woodworth, the hotel’s Front Office Manager. Austin later provided more details via an email interview.
Hilton Fort Collins initiated this mobile customer engagement program in early Spring 2018, although it’s been “floating around the Hilton brand for about 2 years now.” The digital program is used with both regular guests and those in the Hilton Honors program, and can be used via the hotel’s app. If the guest initiates interaction via the app, that communication thread stays there. If the front desk initiates, then the thread remains in direct SMS text.
Objective. “Our objective is to help connect with all our guests. As technology continues to advance and become more prominent every day, Hilton wants to stay with the flow. This is a way for us to connect with someone in a heartbeat while not disrupting their entire day.”
Expected Benefits. “It allows us to reach out and talk to every guest. It helps open a new line of communication that wasn’t there before. It allows guests to talk to us directly about any special needs they will need in their room prior to their stay. It allows to more effectively and efficiently rectify any issue that may arise.”
Value-Added Benefits. “It also acts as our concierge service. If a guest is out and about in town and needs a restaurant they can text us and our Front Desk can help give them personalized responses. They don’t have to take the extra time to look for our number online – they just send the quick text.”
Technology for Rapid Response. The system is powered by Kipsu. “All agents login at the beginning of their shift and all have access to every message. So while Agent 1 may send the initial [text], Agent 2 can respond and help the guest. Our response times can vary depending on the demand at the Front Desk. But we keep our average below 5 minute response time.”
By the way, Brandon Dorrance, the author of my personal texts, is the hotel’s Front Office Supervisor. Austin told me that he’s one of their top contributors and a big supporter of this text-based, direct-to-customer engagement. What does Brandon think? “I feel like it has opened the door for easy communication with our guests and has set the bar for guest interaction in hospitality.”
Atrium Hospitality, which manages the Fort Collins Hilton and other well-known brands across 29 states, just announced a portfolio-wide launch of Kipsu’s digital messaging platform. Atrium cited positive impact on overall guest satisfaction and guest survey scores as the reason for the expansion. “Kipsu has enabled us to meet guests where they are and reach them through their preferred channels,” said Atrium’s VP Brand Relations & Quality Assurance, Cyndi McDonald, in a press release.
There’s another critical objective, which is providing the guest service team a real time opportunity to make customers happy before they share their experiences (or vent) publicly. As McDonald explained: “Digital messaging ensures our teams capture feedback during the stay, before it reaches online outlets.”
Kipsu’s aspirational corporate purpose, stated on their website, is relevant for all marketers. See how you can incorporate this way of doing business:
- Elevate service professionals to the center of the customer experience, transforming transactional interactions into fully-developed relationships, and ultimately making every step of the customer journey a “perfect 10.”
Harvey Chimoff is a versatile marketing and business team leader who believes good marketing sells. Contact him at StratGo Marketing, a plug-in marketing department service for company leaders.