Today’s travelers increasingly expect on-demand, mobile-first service from tourism brands when planning or during trips. In fact, 83% of travelers will do research on a mobile device before committing to a trip. The mobile experience and customer service you provide travelers and tourists is vital in securing their business.
However, offering seamless mobile customer support across multiple touchpoints presents challenges for destination marketers and travel providers. The difficulty in providing such a seamless customer service on mobile devices is matched only by the travelers’ expectation that your destination can do just that.
This article explores six proven strategies and best practices tourism executives should adopt to deliver responsive, personalized mobile customer service experiences that meet modern traveler expectations. As you are reading this article, take notes and think about how your destination or attraction is utilizing each of these steps. If you aren’t utilizing any of these strategies yet, then you have a chance to make a very positive impact on your destination’s customer support, especially from a mobile perspective. If you are already utilizing some or many of these strategies, focus on the areas that aren’t being utilized, as they could be the missing piece that optimizes and improves your entire mobile customer service strategy.
Conduct Journey Mapping from a Mobile Lens
Journey mapping is the process of visualizing how a customer would perform a certain task. For instance, if a potential traveler in say Utah, wanted to book a tour of your attraction in Greenville, South Carolina, what would that process look like? What steps would the traveler have to take in order to book a tour? Now think about the process that this same traveler would have to go through in order to book a tour using only mobile devices:
- Map key travel journeys from research to booking to the trip itself from a mobile perspective to uncover friction points. For an added perspective, first conduct the journey on a desktop or laptop, then follow the same steps on a mobile device. Note any differences in the experience, such as load times, display of information.
- Conduct interviews and shadowing research focused on mobile usage and needs throughout the travel journey to gather insights directly from travelers. Have customers follow a set path on a desktop or laptop, then have then execute the same journey on a mobile device. As they complete the process, note any provided feedback on where the journey with the mobile device is better or worse versus the experience on the desktop or laptop.
- Comprehensively audit mobile metrics – platform usage, traffic sources, booking conversion rates, transactions, service case resolution speed/quality and satisfaction scores. Compare and contrast all metrics to the experience on other channels to note potential bottlenecks and churn points.
- Analyze mobile service case topics and types to identify knowledge gaps to address in self-help resources. Flag topics that are consistently mentioned by CS agents. These indicate potential problem areas that should be addressed to ensure a better mobile customer service experience for travelers and tourists.
Analyzing the customer journey from a mobile perspective can help you optimize the experience for travelers.
Expand Mobile App Capabilities
A branded mobile app is a wonderful way to deliver customized customer service experiences to travelers. Make sure your mobile app offers the following features:
- Your mobile app should allow booking, chat support, and self-service options to handle needs during the shopping journey. Traveling can be a spontaneous adventure for many people, make sure your mobile app gives travelers the convenience to book a trip when they are ready, on their schedule.
- Provides location services, travel guides, and destination recommendations accessible in-trip. Research will be a critical part of any successful trip. Make sure travelers have destination-specific information available at their fingertips at all times.
- Share itinerary, loyalty program, and payment details for in-app access throughout travels. This provides an added benefit to the traveler by helping them keep organized and focused on trip details. By linking loyalty program information, it also helps the traveler stay up to date on possible rewards that could be claimed during the trip.
- Send proactive notifications for flight/event updates, special offers etc. based on context. Allow travelers to store and synch flight and hotel information in app, and keep travelers abreast of any changes in itinerary.
- Offer a mobile concierge or chatbot to handle common requests on-the-go. Leveraging AI, you can offer a chat assistant that can answer common questions about the travel process as well as answer questions related to the locations and destinations that the traveler will be visiting. Remember, every time you can give a traveler the ability to answer their own support question, that potentially deflects a customer support event (saving you money) and it increases customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Apps that give travelers the information they need at all stages of their journey will lead to higher loyalty levels and greater retention.
Train On-Site Staff to Be Mobile-Ready
Your on-site staff should be trained with using mobile devices to bring added convenience and support to travelers:
- Provide locations teams with tablets and smartphones to assist guests anywhere on-property with lookups, requests, or issue resolution. This allows your support staff to be more accessible on site, which gives an added level of convenience to travelers.
- Let travelers summon or locate on-site staff via your mobile app. This gives travelers more control over getting support and assistance with issues and questions.
- Equip roaming customer service agents to handle needs, answer questions, and queue services digitally. Monitor traffic patterns at your destination to understand where agents should be stationed to maximize effectiveness.
- Set up self-service kiosks around sites for quick lookups or appointment scheduling without staff. Give travelers the ability to quickly print out their itinerary as well as brief travel guides and coupons from the kiosk. Also give travelers the ability to summon an agent if additional support is needed.
Mobile-empowered on-site staff enable personalized support, which leads to higher levels of satisfaction.
Adopt Emerging Mobile Technologies
Continually assess feedback from travelers to identify emerging tech that can enhance the mobile customer service experience for tourists:
- Robots and drones can be utilized to deliver small packages to tourists poolside, or hikers on a trail. This can address customer support and possibly even safety issues.
- Implement virtual/augmented reality to provide immersive property tours and destination previews. AR and VR can be provided both on-site, as well as demos given online or at your travel agency. Providing a more immersive experience for the traveler can increase satisfaction in the trip.
- Leverage geofencing and GPS for hyper-localized, contextual push notifications. This technology can ensure that travelers have location-specific information that adds an additional layer of convenience.
Cutting-edge mobile tech can delight and satisfy guests and improve satisfaction.
Monitor Mobile Analytics Closely
One you have a robust mobile customer service experience in place, make sure you are tracking the correct analytics associated with your mobile experience:
- Track satisfaction scores, NPS and sentiment specifically for mobile touchpoints. Compare and contrast scores for the same metrics among desktop users to help identify areas for improvement in both areas.
- Monitor usage and adoption rates for mobile apps, messaging, and on-site technology. Note any areas that are seeing rapid adoption and growth, and try to identify why. If travelers aren’t using a particular mobile tech at certain parts of the customer journey, drill down and see if there are ways to increase adoption. If not, consider abandoning that touchpoint and investing in more promising areas.
- Measure mobile booking and transaction conversion rates vs. desktop. This will help you identify customer behavior patterns, so you can further customize the overall support experience to deliver higher levels of support.
- Analyze mobile traffic sources, on-site usage heatmaps and popular device types. Also focus on traffic patterns and tie that to mobile usage. Once hotspots are identified, make it easier for travelers to engage with your mobile tech at those locations.
- Identify service gaps between mobile and traditional channels. Additionally, if travelers are positively responding to your mobile tech on-site, see if there are opportunities to provide a similar experience via traditional channels. Seek to understand why the mobile experience is resonating with travelers, and incorporate what’s working on-site into the traditional channels.
Traveler data can provide opportunities to enhance and optimize mobile offerings and experiences.
Continuously Optimize the Mobile Experience
The mobile environment evolves quickly. Continually improve by:
- A/B testing new mobile app features and self-service functionality. Remember that travelers are increasingly expecting to be able to self-diagnose support issues. Give travelers the ability to solve their own problems, especially when they are on the go and on-site.
- Study your competitors and other destinations to spot opportunities. See how other locations and destinations are leveraging emerging mobile technologies to enhance the customer support experience.
- Seeking direct traveler feedback on mobile pain points and desired improvements. Compare and contrast this feedback with the same feedback from travelers who book and research trip on their laptop or desktop. Figure out what travelers prefer about the experience on their desktop, and see how you can incorporate a similar experience into mobile.
- Journey mapping the mobile process for travelers to identify friction and pain points. Find the bottlenecks for travelers and address them.
- Piloting enhancements, measuring impact on satisfaction and usage, and iterating. Utilize traveler feedback to incorporate improvements, test, then test some more. Rollout your winners and scrap the losers and try again.
Optimization never ends as mobile technology and traveler expectations continue to evolve.
Achieving Mobile Customer Service Excellence
Providing seamless mobile customer service is challenging yet critical in travel. The strategies explored in this guide equip tourism brands to effectively meet rising expectations.
Emerging mobile technologies can greatly enhance the support experience for travelers, but only if properly utilized. Adopting a proactive versus reactive mindset can set your destination up to be the case study that others in your industry learn from.