What is frictionless service?
Frictionless service refers to a seamless, frustration-free customer experience. It’s service that delivers what your guests want, when they want it, and how they want it, in a way that is most convenient to them – no additional effort required.
Consumer expectations are only growing across the board as more companies cotton on to a streamlined way of doing things. As an accommodation business, you control your guests’ perception of your property and brand. A large part of ensuring that perception is positive comes down to how well you meet these heightened expectations.
How to Offer Frictionless Service
Recognise the roadblocks
Friction can present itself in many ways across your business. Unfortunately, it poses a tangible threat to multiple aspects of the customer journey. However, it can also appear only after having the chance to create a rift in your guest’s experience. That’s why it’s vital to assess your processes from a customer perspective, examining all your touchpoints and the various ways in which you communicate with your guests. Your touchpoints might include things like marketing emails, customer service channels like live chat and phone calls, Social Media, the physical check-in process, and even placing a booking on your website.
Here are some things to look out for when investigating :
- Are your teams able to collaborate effectively? Can they communicate efficiently? Is it easy for them to do their jobs? Or do you often have issues with double-handling, messy processes, and staff frustration?
- Does the technology you use help or hinder the way you do things at your property? Are your systems slow or difficult to operate? Do they offer all the tools you need to make life easier?
- How long do your guests typically have to wait for a response from your business? Whether it be on the phone, via your website, or on Social Media, a hefty waiting period is a guaranteed way to spark customer frustration.
- Are there too many steps when booking a room/site online? How many are there when checking in or out?
- How accessible is your company information? Will your guests be able to find out all they need to know about your property on your website? Or will they need to take yet another step and call you? And if that’s the case, will it be easy for them to find the necessary details to get in touch?
- Is your branding consistent across all your channels? Will your guests easily be able to identify your aesthetic, tone, and brand values? Can they always expect the same level of service, no matter the touchpoint?
Anticipate your guests’ preferences
When trying to reduce friction within your customer journey, it’s important to recognise that different guests enjoy different ways of doing things. To understand the preferences of your guests, it’s essential to gather as much guest data as possible. By understanding their behaviour, preferred contact methods, past experiences, and demographic, you’ll be one step ahead. You’ll gain the ability to distinguish the areas of your guests’ journey that may cause the most friction… then get to work on eliminating those roadblocks.
Appeal to everyone
AI chatbots are a popular choice for the under 50’s (and perhaps those making sneaky vacay plans from their desks). However, many customers still prefer a good, old-fashioned phone call as their means of customer service. Some guests thrive on face-to-face contact, others want to sidestep the front desk altogether. To prevent frustration, seek to employ multiple guest communication channels to accommodate multiple preferences. Provide a way for your guests to communicate with you via their phones, on their laptops, SMS, email, apps, through live chat, and self-service technology. There are so many avenues to choose from and so many you should be utilising in your business.
Use the right systems
Using a centralised system can help you amalgamate multiple aspects of your operations, meaning more consistency and improved productivity across your team, along with a frictionless experience for the end-user. Effectively managing your admin and tasks through a central platform like NewBook’s Property Management System can help to avoid double-handling, save you time and wages, and deliver speedier service for your guests, whether it be regarding customer support, maintenance requests, or even room service.
An all-in-one PMS can also help to store valuable guest data related to visitor stay history, billing information, support requests, feedback, and more. This means regardless of which team member a guest interacts with in the future, your team will be on top of it and able to assist without any explanation needed.
Making it easy for guests to identity your deals, access information and follow prompts will help alleviate any potential frustration and boost customer satisfaction. It’s all a piece of the accessibility puzzle, making your calls to action actionable. The first step is ensuring your business is easy to find online so that your guests won’t need to trawl through Google to find you. Try optimising your SEO and utilising other platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Online Travel Agents. That way, you’re providing as many avenues as possible. If you’re running a seasonal special, make that known! Highlight your deals, make certain all your links are clickable, provide all the relevant information, ensure your CTA’s are obvious, bold your Book Now’s and make your Contact Us’ clear.
Keep it consistent
After you’ve perfected one touchpoint, your guests will come to expect the same level of quality across your whole business. If a guest finds themselves having a poor experience, like having to wait hours (or even days) for a response to a query, they’ll be forced to double-back and seek another path, complicating things and putting a dampener on their overall brand perception. Ensuring that everything you present to your customers (information, customer service, accessibility etc.) remains consistent across all your channels, will garner a more positive, trusted opinion of your brand. Remember, your objective is to make things easy, so don’t neglect to apply that mantra to your lesser-used channels.
The key to frictionless service is minimising the number of hoops a customer must jump through, so if your processes seem more like winding roads rather than a smooth stretch, it’s time to make some changes. Regardless of the methods you take to streamline your customer experience, remember that a guest’s assessment of your brand just boils down to whether that experience was a positive one or not.