With the Thanksgiving holiday behind us (if you are in the USA) and more holidays ahead, my mind is on the travel industry this morning. Even with all of the TSA debacles, I am sure that many companies in the travel industry are doing their best to stay focused on the customer.
More often, I am seeing “customer-centric” and “outside-in” as becoming interchangeable buzz words for social media and customer service. Please, don’t mistake the two. Customer-centric and outside-in clearly have their beginnings in integrated marketing communications, which demand that data be the core driver in all marketing and customer-based activities.
To be clear, customer-centric doesn’t always mean customer service. But that doesn’t mean that having customer-centric data can’t lead to experiences that include customer service activities. When it comes to customer service, even customer-centric companies will trip up and falter. Why? Because it’s a human-to-human touch point that even the most detailed and modeled data can’t always predict the outcome of. So the next time you claim that a company isn’t customer-centric because you had a bad customer service experience, think about that and also think about how your behavior affected the situation as well.
Today I am sharing some examples of companies in the travel industry that are leading their customer-centric efforts with data that is leading the way to changing their business culture.
SAS.Com Events: Carnival Cruises Along with the Power of Customer Analytics
Enablers of customer centricity:
- Data Foundation
- Targeting and Marketing
- Marketing Performance Management
Forrester (Shar VanBoskirk’s Blog): Intercontinental Hotels: A Case Study In Customer-Centric Marketing
Build[ing] A Centralized Customer Organization:
“…included a wholesale reorganization where IHG product, channel and sales teams were all aligned under one executive – an EVP of the customer. As Lincoln explained, these three groups still sometimes have different interests, but they are now much more aware of each others’ efforts, and can more easily create aligned goals.”
“This step also included a corporate re-education to help the entire IHG organization change its expectations about what it wanted to get out of each customer touchpoint. IHG is working to define that each time a customer interacts with IHG, it is an opportunity. One which allows IHG a chance to a) sell rooms, b) sell something else of value, c) change the customer’s beliefs, or d) learn something.”
The Social Customer: How to achieve customer-centricity
“Essentially there are five steps to recognizing and implementing a successful program:
- First, we must identify who are our customers.
- We must find out exactly what they want and what kind of services and products they want and be able to hone in on that service to meet their needs.
- We must design our sales and service processes around the needs of the customers we have identified.
- We must thoroughly train our employees and use whatever successful training and mentoring programs available to us.
- We must consistently measure our service and delivery procedures and use our customers to provide the necessary feedback and improve and upgrade our processes.”
“…alignment today doesn’t mean internal alignment for efficiency’s sake. It means customer-aligning: figuring out how to add new value to customers; letting customers shape your business; coming to grips with the reality that companies no longer run the show, and profits have to be earned, not taken.
“Even some historically hardcore customer abusers—Oracle, Delta Airlines, Boeing and Best Buy—are shedding or have shed their company-centric scales…”