I am crazy about great customer experiences, and I love technology. When the two come together, it is nothing short of brilliant. Case in point: Not long ago, I was visiting Los Angeles and had one of those “brilliant” moments when tech and customer service merged.
As I pulled up to the Andaz West Hollywood Hyatt Hotel, I was immediately wowed. Initially, I had chosen this hotel because of its location, and well, its amazing rooftop pool. As I drove up to the main entrance, the valet attendant and a guest representative met me at my car door. I stepped out of my car, and while the valet was taking my bags, the guest representative asked my name. Using her iPad she quickly checked me in and swiped my credit card—all in the time that it took the valet to gather my bags and put them on the baggage cart. She then led me into the lobby while explaining all of the amenities of the hotel—including where I could find the cookies and lemonade. As she showed me around, we approached a desk where my room key was waiting. I told her how impressed I was, and what a great customer experience I had just had. She said that not only has the check-in/out process become a good experience for guests, but it has also allowed the hotel to transform the lobby into a larger lounge area for their guests. Using mobile technology—tablet computers—Andaz is able to bring their guest representatives out from behind large barrier-like podiums to welcome their customers and make them feel like invited guests, all the while streamlining the check-in process—a process that can be lengthy, sometimes painful, and tiring.
This is just one example of how, with the power of mobility, we are able to conduct business “anytime, anywhere.” One thing is for certain: Mobility is here to stay. According to IT analytics firm IDC, by 2015 the world’s mobile worker population will reach 1.3 billion. This figure represents 37.2% of the total workforce, and in addition, over 60% of the workforce feels they do not need to be in an office to be productive. The boundaries of the workspace have radically changed and the way we work is constantly evolving. Businesses are slowly embracing technology that not only allows their workforce to be effective outside of the traditional office environment, but to completely change the customer experience—changes that have a positive impact on revenue, employee satisfaction, and customer retention.
As a leader, it is imperative that I equip my team with the tools that empower them to be effective and productive. It is my priority to take away hurdles that can get in the way of delivering the best experience to our customer. To be competitive and agile, to be a company that employees want to work for, and to be the best for our customers, we need to ensure that our employees are as effective in any setting, whether they are in the office or on the move.
My great experience at the Andaz happened because this particular hotel set out to make the check-in process easy. They figured out where the pain points and bottlenecks were, and with the use of technology, they were able to both streamline and create an excellent guest experience.
Mobility, personally and professionally, has made an impact on all of our lives. When was the last time you stood in line at the bank? Do they even have lines anymore? According to the Pew Research Center, 61% of Internet users bank online and 35% of cell phone owners bank using their mobile phones. You can check your balance, transfer funds, and even make a deposit by taking a picture of your check. Having instant access to banking has eliminated the frustration that comes with having to wait to conduct your personal banking needs. I wonder how this has impacted customer satisfaction in the banking industry? My prediction is that customer satisfaction levels will go up as the banking industry continues to make it easier for us to bank remotely.
Companies that have adapted “anytime, anywhere” mobility for their workforce are much more likely to attract millennials (also referred to as the “digitally native” generation) than a company that is slow to adopt mobility technology. Millennials have grown up in a world where instant global connectivity is the norm. They have been using multiple devices since their early teenage years, and some say this generation is more likely not own a TV. They stream their favorite shows, check the news, and watch movies from one of their mobile devices wherever and whenever they desire. Give a Millennial a wireless connection and there are very few tasks they cannot perform. They order pizzas, schedule a taxi pickup, conduct interview via video—among other tasks—from an app on their phone or tablet. Unlike previous generations, this generation will take a job with less pay if it allows them the flexibility to use their own devices, work virtually, and have access to social media. By providing an atmosphere that embraces innovation and creativity, we unlock the potential of this new generation to change the customer experience in ways we have not even thought of yet. One of the perks of staying at the Andaz was that wifi is readily available throughout the hotel. When the sun came up, I decided it would be nice to sit poolside and get a head start on my emails. I was slightly worried that the wifi may not be as strong on the rooftop, however, it was great and it made for the most perfect office.
We want the ability to use whatever device is most convenient for the situation. For example, I no longer bring my laptop when I travel. My iPad will do everything I need in a meeting and provide access to all of my work tools. My apps are stored in my iPhone and iPad, and my travel itinerary, digital airline tickets, and other necessary documents are stored in both devices. I use the Waze navigation app on both devices, and I use Uber for times when I need car service. I recently went into a business for a meeting and was surprised to find out that they have no wifi available for outside users—wifi is strictly for employees. In this case, it wasn’t a big deal because it was a short meeting, but nevertheless, I was quite surprised. To be fair, they were a little sheepish about it as well, and said they were working on making the necessary changes.
We are coming up on the 5-year mark since the first iPad was released. Many of us remember that magical day in January 2010 when Steve Jobs presented the first-ever iPad. We truly had no idea how the tablet would revolutionize mobility. More than 15M were sold within the first year of its release and it is said that by 2017 there will be 905 million tablets in use globally. I purchased mine as soon as it was released and spent the first year using it primarily as a personal entertainment device. Over time, and as I upgraded, I began to also use it as a tool for business and today I carry it everywhere I go. At the time of my visit to the Andaz, using the iPad for check-in was pretty cutting edge. Today it is quickly becoming common. Many small businesses are using similar mobile apps and devices for a quicker payment option for their customers. For example, the stylist/owner of the salon I go to is a young entrepreneur, and she has adapted this technology and again it has impacted my experience. I pay right from my chair at the end of my service and I’m out the door. She also has wifi available for all her customers, and my iPad immediately connects when I walk in. There is a popular meme out there that says, “Home is where my wifi connects automatically.” It’s a cute saying, and it’s absolutely true.
I love that I get to spend my days creating a culture of excellent customer experiences. It’s an exciting time for technology and I’m grateful to play a part in bringing customers experiences and technology together.
How will you use mobility to transform your customer experience?
Rhonda Parmiter brings to Continuant an extensive background in customer service, retail sales, and management. Originally brought on board to pioneer Continuant’s National Accounts division, Ms. Parmiter quickly helped transform the Continuant customer experience to the positive experience that it is today—as...