Customer Experience refers to the interactions of an organisation and its products with customers. For establishing effective customer experience, it is imperative that customer experience be clearly understood by the company. It is important as it helps firms to clearly identify the perception of customers towards the company and its offerings. The following assignment is based on managing customers' experience in Thomas Cook, which is a world renowned tourism company. The report would address expectations and needs of market segment for the service industry. It would also cover exploration of customer experience map for creation of business opportunities and optimising customer touch points. An article on the impacts of digital technology in customer relationship management is also briefly discussed in the report. It also includes application of effective customer experience management to achieve maximisation of customer engagement.
P1. How Digital Technology is employed in managing customer experience within Thomas Cook
Customer Relationship Management In Thomas Cook
Customer Relationship Management refers to the technology which helps companies to to manage their interactions and relationships with their customers. The goal of employing CRM is to improve business relationships. Organisations in service sector have enhanced their relationships with their customers through employing effective CRM systems (Homburg, Jozić and Kuehnl, 2017). One such company that could effectively enhance its operations is Thomas Cook.
Thomas Cook is a world acknowledged firm which provides its services to large number of customers in the world. It is not easy for the firm to manage each customer. CRM systems would help the firm in managing these customers to a great extent by providing personalised services and spontaneous assistance. Currently, the firm is on a voyage to revolutionise CRM systems in order to provide greater services to their customers. Effective CRM system would help the company in business development and expansion of operations. The firm could easily develop innovative and personalised services and go to a greater extent in enhancing customer experience.
There are few specifications Thomas Cook must consider before employing a CRM software in their company.
- The CRM software must be user-friendly. The interface must be clearly understood by the users and the options available must be simple for them to understand (Klaus, 2014).
- It must be well adaptive to store countless contact information of the customers. It is necessary for personalised services the firm plans on to give their loyal consumers. However, it is necessary that CRM software provide safety for these information and eradicate any possible chance for a breach.
- Workflows must be clearly defined and developed in the used CRM Software. The software must have automated functioning abilities which generates automated messages for new established contacts. Along with this, these systems must be agile to modify itself in various difficult situations.
- The developed CRM software must be in integration with the back office software of the firm. Such synchronisation would provide ease in the operations as well as better management.
- With enhancements in technology, CRM software of Thomas Cook must have cloud computing abilities to further enhance the security of customers' data. It would decrease cost as well as complexity in managing information (Blázquez, 2014).
The best CRM would be the one that integrates with the functioning of the company. Thomas Cook while implementing a software must undertake all the pressure points that are required to be addressed.
There are various software used by businesses of Thomas Cook which enables them to effectively manage their customer relationships with millions of customers worldwide. Some of these software along with their advantages and disadvantages are described below:
Opera Software: This is an overall CRM software which helps the firm in establishing a connection between the organisation internally (with various departments) and externally (with customers). It has high usage in hospitality management as well as customer management. From check-ins to checkouts, this software is able to manage each activity by the customer at utmost ease. However, there are certain advantages and disadvantages associated with the software which are mentioned below:
- Integration: This system provides effective integration between the internal departments of the Thomas Cook hotels. It gets easier for managers to manage and utilise resources optimally.
- Room Pricing Control: This software effectively controls the rates of various rooms in the hotel via automated capabilities. This helps the managers to give accurate pricing for each room to the customers.
- Financial Management: This system is perfect for managing the financial books. All the financial and accounting functions are effectively managed by Opera (Spiess and et. al., 2014).
- Weak Online Interface: There have been various issues where this software provided weak online interface to users. This could be a major disadvantage for Thomas Cook in terms of CRM.
- Time Consuming: This system is slow during check-ins and checkouts. This would make customers wait more and degrade the service quality of Thomas Cook.
- Inconsistency: Sometimes the portal hangs which not only slows the system, but also provide irrelevant results which must be a major cause of concern for the firm (Torres, Fu and Lehto, 2014).
Oracle Service Cloud: This integrates technology of knowledge management software with social media which enhance the customer experience firm gives to its customers. It gains knowledge through every interaction and provides real-time information to customers at each touch point. The pros and cons of this software is described below:
- Collaboration: Through its effective features, it provides up-to-date and real time solutions to customer queries which attracts the customers with such accurate assistance.
- Effective Management: Its advanced knowledge management reduce costs of customer service for Thomas Cook and provides outstanding customer experience. It also helps in enhancing the productivity and efficiency of agents.
- Self Learning: This technology enables the software to enhance the interaction of the customers with the organisation. Moreover, with enhanced knowledge of ecosystem, it helps Thomas Cook in fulfilling its Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) (Cetin and Dincer, 2014).
- Inefficient Update: The new updates of this software are very time consuming and inconsistent which hampers the service time of the firm as well as delay in customer service.
- Email-dis functioning: It email system is termed to be as very poor which has caused inconvenience to loads of customers. Thomas Cook must ensure this system to be perfect in order to give better service to customers.
- Memory Consumption: The memory consumption of the software is low which restricts users to upload larger data after an extent. This is one of he major inconvenience associated with this software.
CRM software is necessary for Thomas Cook to increase the speed in service delivery as well as to ensure better management in activities. However, it must consider all the negative aspects of these systems in order to further improve its efficiency and provide better management of customer relationships (Garg, Rahman and Qureshi, 2014).
P2. Illustrate about customer service strategies
In hospitality industry, satisfaction of customers is very essential for a travel & tourism company as it directly affect the growth or sustainability of business. Therefore, customers are consider as a king in hospitality industry. Thomas Cook is one of the best known company which offer tour related services. As number of player in travel and tourism industry making efforts toward improving and brining unique services in market for attracting the customers toward it. So, it become very essential for Thomas Cook to improve their current services for achieving sustainability in market and being able to fulfil the demand of customers. This help them in maintaining long term relation with customers that further support in expanding business. For instance, if customer get satisfied with the services they will suggest other to choose services provided by Thomas Cook which contribute toward enhancing the brand image within the marketplace. Thomas Cooks mainly focuses on providing good customer experience by focusing on customer care as a genuine differentiator for business. Some of the following strategies that can be used by Thomas Cook to improve the customer experience:
- Train employees in customer empathy:- Client interaction is a key to attract them toward services and maintaining a long term relationship with them. Therefore, Thomas Cook must provide their employees training regarding the way they must communicate with customers. This will help in engaging customer with company and also influencing them to avail services.
- Be attentive to guest's need:- Thomas Cook can achieve more growth and success in marketplace by satisfying the customers requirement. In order to increase the customer base it is very essential for Thomas Cook to analyse the demand of customers that are prevailing in market and try to improve services according to that information. This help in providing a greater service experience to customers and support in providing them satisfaction.
- Deliver on Promises:- In order to achieve trust and building up strong relation with customer, it is very essential for Thomas Cook to deliver services as they have promised to their client. This may include promise relate quality of services, product etc. So, company must try to fulfil the promises that they have made at the time of promotion. This help in providing better satisfaction to customers which in turn will support in providing positive mouth publicity of company (Bilgihan, Kandampully and Zhang, 2016).
- Rewarding loyal Customers:- This is also one of the most widely used strategies to keep customer satisfied and maintaining a long term relation with them. As there are number of customers who ask for services on regular basis whenever they decided to travel and also suggest others to use services. Therefore, Thomas Cook must reward them either through providing one side free ticket for some place, discount over accommodation services or by sending greetings and gifts to them on their birthday. This help company in maintain a long term relation with them.
These all are the customer satisfaction strate4gies that can be used by Thomas Cook in order to keep their customers satisfied and sharing a long term relation with them. This further support them in improving their brand image within marketplace.
P3. Demonstrate how customer service strategies develop and create customer experience
Customer service strategies plays an essential role in improving the customer experience by satisfying the need and want of customer regarding the services. As these strategies focuses on developing action plan by following which Thomas Cook may be able to fulfil the demand of customers. This in turn will support in providing the better customer experience and more satisfactory services to the customers. By applying effective strategy, Thomas Cook can improve the quality of services they provide and in improving its image in marketplace. Apart from this customer service strategies also support in improving the business processes and the way in which they serve customers. As these strategies more customer centric and focuses on aligning the services as the requirement of client which further support in enhancing their overall experience of availing services while on tour. Following points describe about the ways in which customer service strategies support in delivering an effective client experience:
- These strategies are more customer centric and focuses on collecting information regarding the demand of customers for formulating action plan. Hence, support in bringing innovation in current process by collecting idea from market. This help Thomas Cook in providing services within a unique way which in turn will improve the customer experience.
- Customer service strategy also support in eliminating the chance of error and dissatisfaction among customers as it focuses on providing a pathway which provide guidelines to work in a more informed way. This support in fulfilling the expectation of customers toward the services provided by Thomas Cook.
- These strategies also support in determining a different and more attractive ways to interact with customers, as communication is a way to maintain a healthy relation.
- Customer service strategy also support in determining the various growth and expansion opportunities present in market. By determining these, Thomas Cook will be able to provide most creative solution to the problems faced by customer during travel & tourism related services. This in turn will also support in providing more satisfactory services to customers.
- Execution of actions according to the customer service strategy will also support in Thomas Cook in enhancing its brand image and achieving long term sustainability within marketplace.
These all are the benefits that Thomas Cook will get by involving customer service strategy within their regular practices, as it support in enhancing the customer experience and providing satisfaction to them. Avoidance of it in business process will results in dissatisfaction among customer regarding services and quality of operations. Apart from this it may also affect the image of services offered by company in front of customers which may result in heavier loss to the company. So, in order to maintain its position within marketplace, Thomas Cook must follow customer service strategies for providing a better customer experience.
Thus, it is concluded that it is imperative for companies to manage customers' experience in order to expand their businesses and maximise their profits. Companies must understand the value and importance of the needs, wants and preferences to the customers. Along with this, different factors that influence customer engagement must be clearly understood and worked upon by firms. Service sector organisations must create a detailed customer map with strategies to enhance the service qualities during customer touch points. Digital Technologies has a vast impact on the customer relationship management of these firms. Lastly, effective customer experience must be provided in order to maximise customer engagement for service sector organisations.
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- Blázquez, M., 2014. Fashion shopping in multichannel retail: The role of technology in enhancing the customer experience.International Journal of Electronic Commerce. 18(4). pp.97-116.
- Cetin, G. and Dincer, F.I., 2014. Influence of customer experience on loyalty and word-of-mouth in hospitality operations. Anatolia. 25(2). pp.181-194.
- Garg, R., Rahman, Z. and Qureshi, M.N., 2014. Measuring customer experience in banks: scale development and validation. Journal of Modelling in Management. 9(1). pp.87-117.
- Homburg, C., Jozić, D. and Kuehnl, C., 2017. Customer experience management: toward implementing an evolving marketing concept. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science. 45(3). pp.377-401.