As more companies take note of the evolving needs and preferences of today’s digitally empowered customer, they realise the importance of adapting their operational setup to provide customers with an optimal experience. However, this can often become a massive project; complete overhauls of ICT systems, implementation of advanced CEM platforms, integration of whole channels, these efforts can absorb years of the company’s time and vast quantities of its resources.
While creating the best possible CX environment will usually deliver an entirely justifiable ROI in the long term, companies may not be ideally positioned to commit to such a large investment all in one go, due to operational or budgetary constraints. Companies experiencing such circumstances should bear in mind that optimising CX should be a permanently evolving process, as businesses should always be striving to find new and better ways of giving their customers a positive experience that they can go on to share with others.
According to UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) surveys, a record 54 million International arrivals headed to the Middle East in 2015, a 3% increase from the previous year. The next four years leading up to the 2020 World Expo are predicted to demonstrate an greater increases in annual visitor numbers as ME countries prepare for this international mega event as well as world sporting tournaments such as FIFA 2022.
One of the many ways in which the Middle East is preparing for these hugely important events is by ensuring that the regional tourism industry has sufficient infrastructural support to properly accommodate the predicted influx of visitors. Primarily, this means constructing numerous new hotels as well as developing existing ones. This will be the first time that the World Expo is staged in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA) and for the six months that the Expo lasts it will attract millions of additional visitors eager to explore its exhibits and enjoy the associated cultural events.
The last five years have seen a significant shift in consumer expectations. The modern consumer is smarter than ever and the number of channels available for them to express their views are ever increasing. Social media campaigns have become a major part of most businesses’ marketing strategies while customers are quick to take to the same social media channels to express their views on the products and services they have received. With these radical changes in how customers communicate, select products and make buying decisions, what changes do companies need to make to their customer experience in order to keep providing a top quality service?
1: Active Customer Management
In the past, companies have had an understandable aversion to encouraging customer contact. Too often this was associated with the complaints procedure and an attitude of “no phone calls, no problems” was adopted. However, with the rising importance of social media and the insights offered by big data, more companies are seeing the benefits of inviting customer contact. Effective use of data generated by customer interactions can provide the necessary insights to create a more personalised service and ultimate help improve customer satisfaction.
The Meetings, incentives, conferences, and events (MICE) market is rapidly gaining in both size and value in the GCC. More tourists are conducting MICE visits with increasingly high expectations of their airline, hotel, food and beverage and transport service providers. As the frequency and value of MICE tourism rises in the Middle East, hospitality industry service providers need to be aware of the key challenges of this particular type of tourism and proactively looking for the most effective solutions.
According to a global tourism report released in 2015, business tourists in the GCC comprise of one in three of all tourists in the region and Dubai holds 27% of the $1.3 billion regional market share. Another study conducted by Frost and Sullivan estimated the average spend in GCC countries for inter-regional travel at $4,980 and for international business travel at $9,920. This marked difference underlines the vast potential of the MICE market in the Middle East as well as the value of catering specifically for MICE visitors.
Regular Forbes customer experience contributor Blake Morgan recently interviewed Margaret Molloy, Chief Marketing Officer of Siegel and Gale. You can listen to their full interview here but the principal message that Margaret wanted to relate was that when it comes to modern CEM, simplicity is the key.
The S&G CMO started the interview with the strong statement that:
“Unequivocally, the number one challenge that CMOs are experiencing today is complexity.”
She went on to explain how the rising complexity facing marketers in any given industry is due to the fact that digitisation has given consumers more choice than ever before. We have more content to consume than ever, more options, rival products and services, deals and offers to be discovered. We have more ways of interacting with our favoured brands and companies, more channels to engage with and more paths to purchase.
Traditionally, the customer experience in airport is considered to be one fraught with stress, delays and anxiety. This inevitably leads to a drop-off in customer satisfaction. While certain time-consuming elements of the airport experience – such as passing security and waiting for baggage upon arrival – are well understood norms that fliers accept without much complaint, most delays are guaranteed to cause dissatisfaction and a poor customer experience.
We frequently analyse CEM strategies that are specific to a given industry or even an industry sub-category but at times it is equally useful to step back and investigate overall CEM best practices and strategies that are equally valid and applicable to any company trying to deliver a better customer experience.