An excerpt from my guest post on the 1:1 Blog:
This summer, our family vacationed in Italy and Austria. Travel, as am sure you will agree, is a very high involvement experience – exhilarating when things go well and pretty awful when things go wrong, particularly when you are traveling with family. In preparing for the trip, we relied on traditional guidebooks as well as customer feedback from a variety of travel sites. In doing so,it struck me that the guidebook companies have diversified and leveraged multiple media types to truly engage with their customers in order to inform and enhance their travel experience.
The best guidebooks maintain websites where you can download audio tours, augment information that is already in the book and receive updates online or on your mobile device, subscribe to podcasts, upload pictures, check recommendations from other customers, as well as browse and comment on staff experiences. These websites and discussion groups are often a seamless extension of their base product, brand and offering. Readers/customers, as well as other members of the ecosystem (e.g. tour operators, hotel managers) can actively participate, add to and shape their product, namely by providing advice and intelligence for travelers on things to do and to watch out for while maximizing the value they get from vacations. However, there is a wide range of sophistication across the major travel guide companies in how well they engage their customers and truly build a seamless experience across these different media. This has to do not only with how savvy they are with new digital media that are more engaging, but also with their ability to effectively integrate these different ways that customers can interact with them.
Read the entire post at the 1:1 Blog.
I agree that companies that have truly engaged their customers have seen positive impact, and that customer engagement is central to companies’ financial performance and market success. But the key to achieving customer engagement is listening to customers and reacting to their needs and interests.
It’s equally important to work with your customers to determine the best method of communicating with them and when they would like to receive information. Once you have determined the appropriate channel for communicating, you can engage customers in a highly personalized and tailored way.
That’s when Engagement Communications comes in to its own. Engagement Communications comprises the blending of advances in communications such as voice messaging, SMS, email and web portals with a human touch. Together they create points of engagement with a customer rather than a simple connection. Making a connection might inform but it doesn’t necessarily activate. Create engagement points and the path is opened up for activation.
Engagement Communications involves customized campaign-based outreach which encourages two-way dialogue. While outgoing messages can be scaled to the hundreds and even thousands, each is delivered and experienced in a personalized manner.
For example, hotels and resorts are integrating their reservation systems with automated customer engagement communications. By providing customers, at point of check-in, the opportunity to receive SMS, voice or email messages to be notified about anything from happy hour discount notifications and show tickets to restaurant reservations, casinos are able to tailor the information and medium used to engage their customers.
TeleVox recently implemented an Engagement Communications pilot program for a Las Vegas casino/hotel where 5,000 patrons were notified of a special offer to receive a free room and concert ticket. Patrons could choose to be transferred to a call center to take advantage of the offer. The calls were significantly cheaper than a direct mail campaign and offered immediate and measurable results – the hotel received eight additional reservations for an ROI of $9,600.
This level of engagement is critical to defining the overall customer experience that drives financial performance and market success.
Thank you for the post.
Scott Zimmerman, President of http://www.televox.com