Despite advances in technology, travel remains inherently complex and is wrought with factors outside of the traveler’s control.
Friction is nearly impossible to avoid: The moment customers decide to leave the comfort and control of their daily lives, they open themselves up to both positive and negative experiences.
From a brand’s perspective, it’s imperative to be an active participant in both the positive and negative to help build lasting customer relationships.
While every brand would love to involve itself only in positive experiences, that’s just not realistic. When things go wrong, it also can be an opportunity to leave a positive impression with customers.
In fact, negative experiences handled appropriately have a far greater positive impact than routine interactions with no friction. Anticipating and responding to friction in the moment, when it matters most, creates a durable emotional bond between brand and consumer, effectively turning a negative experience into a highly positive one.
A chance to create emotional bonds
Even the most tedious planning can’t account for late airline crews or weather‐related delays.
These everyday occurrences, or “micro‐moments,” create a veritable domino effect of friction for consumers that can sour their travel experience: Flights are rescheduled, connections are missed, extra hours are spent in airport lounges. Vacation, or that all‐important client meeting, is impacted.
Instances of friction don’t have to result in disappointed travelers, poor reviews or lost customers. For brands with the right approach and proper systems in place, there’s a bright side to handling negative experiences, one that can differentiate your brand and build loyal customers for the long haul.
By investing in the proper systems and technologies, brands can minimize disruptions and respond in real-time when challenges arise.
Data is only part of the equation
To remedy these situations, a brand first must be aware they are occurring. Connected devices and data collection are only part of the formula for long‐term success. In the moment when a customer experiences friction, that data is useless unless it is equipped with a meaningful, appropriate response - in real-time.
Connected devices and data collection are only part of the formula for long‐term success.
One of the techniques brands can employ is event stream processing (ESP), in which streams of event data are monitored in real-time with the goal of identifying meaningful patterns and inflection points within those streams.
Techniques such as detection of relationships between multiple events, event correlation, hierarchies and other aspects, such as causality and timing, are employed. Brands can use ESP to detect a range of conditions and drive the right response in a timely manner.
ESP changes the flow of information from collect, analyze, model, report and refine to a pattern that is applicable for real‐time usage. Deployed appropriately, ESP can help brands turn negative interactions into positive engagements by intervening and responding while the event is occurring, to effectively change the outcome.
Traditionally, data and predictive models assume the luxury of time for analysis, interpretation and reporting, a luxury that simply doesn’t exist when problems occur. When friction arises, brands already must be equipped with real‐time insights that are immediately actionable - or else the opportunity for improvement has passed, along with your customer’s affinity for your brand.
Effective ESP at work
ESP allows brands to be both proactive and reactive, scalable and agile. With proper setup, it can offer customized responses based on individual customer preferences and circumstances.
One common misstep travel brands often make is to offer flight vouchers across the board when friction arises, regardless of the individual customer’s situation or difficulty.
Take the all‐too‐common occurrence of a family traveling who missed their connecting flight because of delays. They’re headed to Hawaii for a once‐in‐a‐lifetime vacation but are stuck at a hub in Atlanta for the next four hours. You could give them a set of flight vouchers after the fact as an apology. But this does not alleviate or improve their current situation, one that’s both negative and highly memorable.
Instead, organizations that anticipate friction can react immediately to improve the situation in the moment. Using a series of connected devices, algorithms and ESP, brands can see the delay as it is occurring and react by offering access to free games and movies or by sending an electronic gift card for a family dinner at the Atlanta airport.
In this scenario, you’ve preemptively predicted friction and reacted with immediacy to improve the situation. This series of short‐term actions can pay off tenfold by creating a positive brand interaction and durable memories in the long run.
Investing in real‐time responses: where to start
ESP capabilities aren’t the way of the future; the ability to respond in real‐time is a baseline predictor of customer experience success. Deprived of the ability to respond in real-time, opportunities will be lost, along with customers.
At Connexions Loyalty, our teams are involved in all aspects of the rewards travel experience - from optimization and presentment to fulfillment and customer service - giving us the full picture of each customer’s interactions with our clients’ brands. This holistic approach allows our teams to collect and analyze applicable events to learn from past occurrences.
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Data collection and analysis are equally important. Synthesized, organized and structured mechanics allow us to deliver technological solutions based on decision data. Armed with 38 years of historical experiences with customers, we can create, model and trigger appropriate responses and actions.
For brands without this type of institutional knowledge, it may be necessary to partner with an organization that can provide these types of resources and augment data gaps that may exist.
If your brand operates in the travel space, including financial institutions with travel rewards, there is little choice whether to integrate ESP. Those that don’t risk being left behind by customers who choose to work with brands that understand their needs and respond in the moments that matter most.
Brands that don’t act will be left behind
Travel is an industry fraught with uncertainties, and for brands in the travel space, the stakes are high. For consumers, travel requires a great physical, emotional and financial investment, one that must be matched by the brands they do business with.
In 2006, U.K. mathematician Clive Humby stated that data is the new oil, noting that it is “valuable, but if unrefined it cannot really be used.”
In many ways, Humby’s statement remains true. ESP is the refinery that equips brands with the ability to utilize data to act in real-time. Without it, your brand will be too little, too late and risks being left behind for a competitor that understands the importance of short‐term immediacy to build long‐term loyalty.