When you’re working behind the scenes in the world of travel, you understand just how much time, effort and money go into building a strong digital presence. And if you’re a smaller business, it’s likely budget constraints are limiting how impressive your digital capabilities are. Yet from a customer perspective, only one thing matters: digital customer experience (or CX).
The seamless digital experience offered by billion-dollar empires like Airbnb, Expedia and Uber has set the bar incredibly high. Customers don’t really know or, frankly, care about the complexities of back-end development. Their only concern is that your site or app works, meaning sorting your digital customer experience should be a top priority.
But if don’t feel like you’ve nailed your customer experience just yet, you’re in good company. Adobe’s 2021 Digital Trends: Travel & Hospitality in Focus report found that a mere 17% of travel and hospitality companies believe their customer experience strategy is “very advanced”. Thankfully, there are lots of simple ways to improve your digital customer experience, even if you’re operating on a modest budget.
Prioritising digital customer experience
A 2021 Econsultancy/Decibel survey found that half of all business executives believe their customers’ experience is a ‘critical’ factor in their success. However, 83% of companies believe their digital customer experience falls short of the ‘very advanced’ category.
As Subrah Iyar, cofounder of WebEx, put it:
“Businesses need to adopt digital solutions to keep customers satisfied and continue growing their businesses. This implies shifting customer engagement experiences to a ‘Pull’ model from a ‘Push’ model.”
You’re not alone if you feel like you’ve barely started on your digital CX journey. 33% of businesses believe they don’t have a strong strategy or tech capability when it comes to digital CX. However, businesses are recognising its importance. 87% of Adobe’s respondents say they’re going to launch new digital platforms/services that are focused on engaging customers, while 84% say they’re allocating more budget to improving digital CX.
Investing for the future
As someone operating in the travel sector, it’s likely you’re still in survival mode after arguably the toughest 12 months in the industry’s history. But this is not the time to bury your head in the sand and wait for things to blow over. Investing in your digital customer experience now, when fewer eyes are on you and you have the time and space to tweak and experiment, could soon pay dividends.
Even though experts at McKinsey predict travel will not recover to its 2019 levels until 2024, that’s not a reason to be discouraged. This is the time to invest in the future and begin rolling out a long-term strategy. By playing the long game, travel companies can enjoy a sustainable, slow-burn recovery that establishes an even stronger foundation for a prosperous future.
One thing companies also struggle with is seeing the value in investing in customer experience. Shiny new CRMs or software feels more tangible, but spending lots on tech without prioritising CX is like the tail wagging the dog. Your customers don’t give a flying fig about the software you use; all they care about is that it works for them.
Improving digital customer experience on a budget
We know many businesses across the travel sector and beyond are still tightening the purse strings right now. Thankfully, a great digital CX can be achieved without a six-figure budget. Here are just a few of our top tips:
- Prioritise what your customer wants, not what you want to show them – A cool, high-tech website might invoke some oohs and aah, but costly bells and whistles don’t necessarily improve CX. Stop focusing on your vision and put your customer front and centre instead, prioritising spend on essentials like improving ease of navigation, page load times and clear signposting to your most important pages.
- Make a plan of action – If your business is one of the 25% relying mostly on ‘ad hoc’ CX improvements, an efficient strategy could save you time and money. You may need to redo pages multiple times, costing more overall, if you’re not approaching digital CX with a coherent end goal in mind. Planning and strategising before you make any changes will stop you accidentally blowing your budget without reaching your end goal.
- Get the right help – Enlisting the help of experts is an investment, but it’s one that could save you money in the long run. As with the strategic approach, getting people who really know what they’re doing to improve your digital CX will prevent you going round in costly circles.
If you’re looking for an expert partner to help you improve your digital presence, 3Sixty can help. Get in touch to find out more about what we do.