How to improve customer relationships through digitalization

Technical Writer

We transact and interact personally and professionally in digital time and space, with an unending continuum of information flow to and fro. Travel and hospitality providers have realized this trend, and they are aggressively embracing digital systems that incorporate the cloud, mobile technologies and social media into their customer service efforts.

Next stop? #CustomerService

One complaint in the increasingly digital world is that companies need to improve customer relationships, and many travel and hospitality companies have realized the importance of this issue. According to SimpliFlying, more than 88 percent of airline executives list improving customer service as a top priority for 2016, and most big airlines have teams of around 30 people dedicated solely to providing customer service through social media, reports The New York Times.

One key benefit of digital migration is that it can actually improve customer relationships. American Express is moving its Global Business Travel division to a cloud business suite, stating that the shift is "fundamental to our business strategy to improve availability and service outcomes and grow the bottom line." By using flexible cloud solutions in key business areas, travel companies can handle complaints, conduct customer surveys and sort out billing errors quickly and efficiently. Nible cloud-based solutions play a key role in improving customer relationships, which, in turn, means that travelers will continue to fly on your airline, rent your cars or stay in your hotels.

The push and pull of digital

Success in the digital world comes down to insight, insight, insight. After implementing digital systems, travel companies and hospitality providers can collect, share and parse data in a way that was never possible before.

In the past, a company's information was typically stored in separate systems, making it challenging, if not impossible, to combine data and analyze it for insights. However, the latest data analytics tools allow organizations to integrate data from internal systems, websites, mobile apps, social media and more. For instance, Eye for Travel explains that Disney World supplements guest information with location data from visitors' MyMagic+ apps to provide truly personal experiences for guests.

"Early examples of the endgame of MyMagic+ were for costumed characters to address children by name and personalized dining and attractions recommendations," explained The Motley Fool.

Thanks to these digital tools, you have the data needed to create personalized customer experiences where travelers get the right information at the right time. social sentiment signals discontent

Companies that pull data and sentiment from social media have an advantage when it comes to personalized engagement. Everyone wants to be around people (and brands) who understand them, and social media can tell you a lot about the lives and preferences of your customers.

However, it's not enough to just collect the social media data. You must use this information to provide marketing and customer service experiences that demonstrate additional value to travelers. For instance, Hertz uses sentiment analytics to improve its "Voice of the Customer" program. The rental car company uses advanced analytics to tag and sort customer messages, including those from social media, in real time. The system sends insights to location managers, allowing them to better understand customer pain points and address issues immediately, thereby improving customer service and retention.

Texting fingers take the wheel

One foolproof way to make customers feel appreciated is to give them a bit of control. For example, Lufthansa airline passengers can download a mobile application and select the content they want to watch during their flight instead of being tied to the predetermined movie. Airlines can take this concept to the next level by using data-driven customer profiles to recommend specific content based on the passenger's demographics and interests. For example, a family traveling with children should receive a different set of recommendations than a single 24-year-old male.

If your competitors aren't already using data analytics to their advantage, they will be soon. In the digital age, customers will increasingly travel with companies that provide top-notch customer service, so take advantage of the data on your servers and give the people what they want. Do this effectively and your competitors will be wondering where all their customers went, instead of the other way around.

Explore the full potential of your data—connect with analytics professionals on IBM's travel and transportation page.