Written by: Gala Kulakova
It’s no secret that CRM is an important and even vital tool for hoteliers. As the hoteliers realize the importance of having information about their clients, now, the CRM strategy is playing a more significant role in the marketing strategy of a hotel.
Hoteliers have been using this software to build a relationship with customers and finally help them make the right decision about booking the hotel, thus increasing sales and achieving higher occupancy rate. But not all hoteliers know that CRM can have an even stronger positive impact and help improve the User Experience.
The importance of UX for hotels cannot be underestimated. Now that hotels are seeking more direct bookings, the UX has a strong direct impact on the number of reservations made on the website. A long loading time, a complex reservation process or an unpleasant design can drop the so much desired number of direct bookings drastically. That is why hoteliers look for the best ways to improve User Experience. One of them is to take advantages of CRM software and use the information about your customers to improve the User Experience of your hotel’s website.
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, and in a nutshell, it is a software that collects and stores data about customers and prospects and the history of their interactions with a hotel. Implementation of CRM software for your hotel business has many perks: it is where you store customer information, it helps create personal relationship with customers, it helps provide outstanding customer support and follow the changes of your customer’s needs, and finally, it helps boost customer satisfaction.
User Experience, or UX, on the other hand, is the online experience that your customers and prospects have on your website. Assuring positive User Experience is vital for a hotel website, as in the modern world online experiences define purchase decisions of customers. The keys to a good user experience are usability, utility, accessibility and functionality of a website.
CRM and User Experience, have come characteristics in common. The main one is the customer-centric philosophy. CRM is designed to help improve the communication with customers and help satisfy their needs. Similarly, User Experience puts the needs and preferences of users – customers – on the front line and serves to provide the best and most comfortable online experience.
One of the main objectives to keep in mind when creating the design of your website is to keep the user – the customer – in the centre. It is vital to know your customer to be able to create the web design that will serve this particular profile.
How much time does it take for the users of your website to find what they are looking for? Are they able to navigate on your website easily? Do they often leave with frustration of their online experience and why? To assure the positive user experience, you need to answer these questions, and to answer these questions you need to know your customer.
You need the information regarding the needs and doubts of your customers, their preferences and their typical behaviour. Only when you have this information will you be able to design a website that will be easy to understand and to navigate. You will be able to create the best User Experience for your customer that will help them make the purchase decision.
In order to ensure the best user experience on your hotel’s website, the first task is to understand who is going to use this website. Depending on the profile of your users, you would be defining site map and site design.
CRM would be quite helpful here, as it has information about your target audience. But I have made my research and I already have my Buyer Personas and Buyer’s Journey that define my target users, why do I need the information from CRM – you may ask?
The answer is simple – CRM is a dynamic software that records all interactions with your customers, which will help you know all feedback that comes directly from your customers. CRM software provides you much more information for each category and each customer. You can see what content, format and messaging work best for particular customers and this information will help you make important decisions regarding the structure and content of your website.
It’s no secret that now that most of online interactions between users and business happen with the help of smartphones, every website should optimise for mobile. But how important is mobile optimisation is for your customers? Do they only search for information online using their smartphones and then come back to book with desktop, or are they ready to go through all the stages of the reservation process with a mobile?
Knowing the answers to these questions will help you design the best user experience for your prospects and customers that will make your reservation process seamless. CRM will help you understand this information about your customers. You can see what resources your customers choose for different types of communication, understand their preferences and facilitate their online experience on your website.
Regardless of the size of your hotel, website redesign should be approached with a strategical perspective. The necessity for a redesign may not be often clear, so it is important to analyse the current state of affairs on your website and to reflect on what might be going wrong. On this stage, CRM will help by providing and recording the feedback from your clients and prospects. Understanding what elements of the website could and should be improved is an important step in the process of redesign that is aimed to improve the UX and to increase the conversion rate.
Once you have assessed your website and found its strong and weak points, it is time to start working on the strategy for the new website. The information from CRM tool will provide the necessary knowledge about the expectations and needs of your clients and will help you create the best online experience for your particular customer profiles. It will be helpful for creating the structure of the website, page flow, the design of the pages, and finally, the content.
The behaviour and preferences of customers are ever changing, and in order to deliver a great user experience on your website, an ongoing assessment and analysis of the website is required. You need to stay tuned with the changing expectations of your customers and adapt your website correspondingly.
The flow of information in the CRM is ongoing, and it provides constant insights that help you understand the way your customers feel about different elements of the interaction with your brand. By allowing CRM help you, you will always be able to keep up with the changing needs of your clients and make the necessary changes on your website in order to assure the best user experience for your prospects and customers.