“Hotel Brands” : the “Devil Is in the Delivery” | BCG

Two Big Trends in the Hotel / Lodging industry are colliding…Whether Hotel-Companies get caught in the Pile-up or Steer-clear of the wreckage will have a big impact on their profitability…?

One trend is the industry’s increasing use of #Franchising, as a means of achieving more “Asset Light” #BusinessModels…For the past decade or longer, #HotelCompanies, have been divesting physical properties and becoming Pure #BrandOwners, and orchestrators because this model receives higher share-price multiples from public equity markets. One key consequence is that hotel companies increasingly must rely on individual franchisees to deliver the customer service experience that they have spent millions of dollars developing and educating consumers to expect—and that substantially defines their brands..

The other trend which is, the rise of information transparency and perpetual connectivity in the digital, and increasingly mobile, age…Online opinions affect more and more #Consumers, travel decisions…Our research shows that the two most trusted channels are personal recommendations (not surprisingly, 90 percent of people rely on these) and the opinions of other consumers they find online (70 percent trust those)…Our research also indicates that the average consumer spends 42 hours online—the equivalent of a full workweek—dreaming about, researching, planning, and making reservations for a four-day leisure trip, and then sharing the experience. Dreaming and researching take up 75 percent of the 42 hours—ample time to be influenced by what others have to say. This time is having an increasing impact on how people book and where they choose to stay, and this impact is showing up in hotel companies’ average daily rates (ADRs)…

Recent research by BCG involving more than a Dozen #HotelBrands, in several-categories shows a strong correlation between companies’ ratings on travel sites and their ADRs. Perhaps even more significant, we found a strong correlation between the consistency of those ratings and hotels’ ADRs…Companies that deliver Higher #CustomerSatisfaction, have the opportunity to charge more; conversely, consumers recognize those brands with inconsistent delivery—from both their own experiences and those of others—and discount the amount they are willing to pay...Within a network of multiple #PropertyOwners, the worst offenders can drag down the best performers and undercut brand ADRs across the board…In today’s #DigitallyDriven World…generating higher ADRs means delivering on the brand promise—and delivering consistently.

Many, if not most, hotel companies have come to grips with this #Operating-Disconnect, they understand that they are giving up direct control of brand delivery at precisely the time when consistency of that delivery has never been more important. They have taken steps to develop New #Strategies, Systems, and Processes for ensuring that their #FranchisePartners, deliver the #BrandExperience, that customers expect. (See Exhibit 2.) Those that successfully master the clear articulation of their brands and consistently execute the #BrandPromise, are rewarded—with Higher Revenues, a Bigger Pool of Potential Owner-Franchisees, and a product that achieves a premium in the marketplace...Those that do not increasingly pay the price…!!

Standards and Sticks:

With hotel networks today often spanning multiple brands, hundreds of owners, and thousands of properties, ensuring consistency of execution is a complex task. Companies undertaking brand renovation efforts face an even more daunting challenge as they must rely on owner-operators to deliver a new, different, enhanced experience, and to do so within the tight economic constraints of a highly competitive industry. Inconsistent execution can kill a brand renewal before it has a chance to prove itself.

The default approach on brand delivery for many hotel companies has been to develop a system of “brand standards” that they require franchisees and other operators to follow. These typically involve lengthy, highly detailed brand-standards manuals, providing instruction for everything from the number and content of information cards displayed in each guest room to rules for employee computer access. We regularly see manuals that run hundreds of pages and refer users to other manuals in the company’s collection for more detailed instruction on particular issues. Most make no attempt to prioritize or differentiate among standards or the impact they have on customer satisfaction. Very often, standards that directly affect what customers see and feel—cleanliness, for example—are given the same weight as specifications for things that are completely invisible to them…

This type of approach often ends up in companies resorting to sticks over carrots, punishing transgressions rather than offering incentives for good behavior. It adds stress to the relationship between franchiser and franchisee, and it can lead to corners being cut and inconsistent experiences for the customer from one property to the next. It also encourages owner-operators to put their efforts into avoiding transgressions rather than seeking to deliver the customer experience that the brand has promised. Most important, it does little to encourage better service, especially the kind of individualized service that customers tend to remember and post online about..

It Pays to Take a Better Approach:

Our experience, and that of many hotel companies, show that taking a more comprehensive approach to working with franchise partners on brand delivery can achieve a better result for travelers—and higher ADRs as a result. There are seven levers to pull; companies looking for the best execution will combine all of them..

Optimize the owner base. Each hotel company or brand has its own mix of property owners composed of large institutional franchisees with hundreds of properties or small, often family-run, operators—or a mix of both. Each requires a different style of engagement, and companies should think through how their mix of franchisees affects their brand delivery. They may want to favor one type of owner over the other, and gear the other components of brand delivery accordingly..

Define the franchisee relationship. Contracts define the relationship between franchiser and franchisee, of course, including the obligations of each party with respect to brand delivery—often in extensive detail. Companies need to approach these negotiations looking through a brand delivery lens. Smart negotiators seek to place an appropriate level of burden on the property owner to comply with brand-related requirements while leaving the company room to act as the ultimate brand steward when it needs to. Contracts today typically define undesired behavior on the part of the franchisee but much more rarely include incentives for providing better service or meeting customer satisfaction metrics. These agreements should be reviewed from the perspective of how they shape the customer experience as well as the business relationship between the franchiser and the franchisee…

Encourage owner engagement. Brand delivery is a tango: it takes two parties to do it effectively. Problems occur when companies do not appreciate the economic (or operational) impact of what they are asking their owners to do. Smart companies find the right balance between consultation and evaluation in their relationships with operators. For example, they can establish or update quality control processes that are based on customer expectations (see below) and establish clear rewards (and penalties) for operator performance…They can also build a business case that reinforces the value proposition for owners of meeting system wide service and #Customer-ExpectationMetrics…The interests of hotel companies and property owners may conflict at times, but both can find common ground over actions that lead to more satisfied guests who are willing to pay higher rates…

Build and motivate the team…Delivering on the brand promise is a function of countless day-to-day behaviors and habits within operators’ organizations. The very best strategy can fail if it is not appropriately distilled into necessary actions and capabilities. Few endeavors can have a bigger impact than working with owner-operators to help them recruit and train staff capable of delivering on the brand promise and building a team-focused organization. Many brand teams take an evaluative, rather than consultative, approach. They perform audits of compliance with the established standards, rather than helping the operator’s team provide a better product and service by, for example, defining the measures of success and putting in place processes, such as training and incentive programs, to help achieve them.

By instituting a more consultative approach, hotel companies can help their franchisees do the following :

  • Select employees on the basis of fit with the customer service culture.
  • Structure training programs to support excellent performance.
  • Encourage staff to put themselves in the customer’s shoes.
  • Pay according to performance.
  • Provide non-monetary incentives when pay is not directly linked to behavior.
  • Communicate effectively, providing employees with the information they need to do their jobs better.
  • Give employees autonomy and the authority to solve problems within certain standards.
  • Enforce standards and metrics.
  • Monitor feedback to drive continuous improvement.

Update quality control processes. Ensuring consistency across multiple properties with many owners requires updating existing processes and establishing new ones to replicate best practices and maintain focus on the critical factors that affect the customer experience. Most operators do lots of things well. The key for others is to identify best-in-class performers, analyze what makes their approach successful, and leverage this expertise by documenting processes to provide step-by-step guidelines for others. We have worked with multiple hotel chains to create a “process blueprint” that provides detailed information on best-in-class practices by department, standardizes opportunities across properties to provide similar customer experiences, reduces gaps and loopholes, serves as training material, and creates a framework for continuous improvement..

Prioritize standards. Standards do have an important place, of course. The focus should be on applying and enforcing standards when they have an impact on service and customer experience rather than developing an exhaustive, all-encompassing system that is doomed by its own weight and complexity. Again, incentives and rewards, as well as an appropriate means of correcting transgressions, are essential. Priorities are important. Research shows, for example, that customers care more about the quality of the bedding than the size of the TV. The goal should be a simple set of standards that are easy to comply with. They should give franchisees the ability to improve the experience but prevent them from cutting corners or taking shortcuts that could harm the brand…

Enforce the standards and metrics. Finally, hotel companies need to hold owner-managers accountable to documented standards and metrics that reflect the brand promise and customer experience. They need to establish a clear set of evaluation criteria to assess performance and understand where changes are needed, as well as a well-understood—and enforced—set of rewards and consequences for performance. Time limits should be set for implementing improvements or corrections. Carrots almost always work better than sticks, but both are necessary in most franchiser-franchisee relationships…

The global lodging industry is expected to approach $500 billion in revenues by 2015…Competition in established markets is intensifying, and #CustomerExpectations, are rising as companies seek to gain share and increase RevPAR (revenue per available room) through more amenities and better service…The devil, however, is in the delivery…Those companies that can work most effectively with their owner-manager partners to provide a high-quality—and consistent—brand experience will win the battle for more customers and higher rates…!!

Accelerating the “Digitization of Business-Processes”: Answer to “Radical Overhaul & Efficiency of Business-Operations” | McKinsey

” Customers want a Quick and Seamless #DigitalExperience, and They Want it NOW… “

Customers have been Spoiled….!!  Thanks to companies such as Amazon & Apple, they now expect every organization to deliver products and services swiftly, with a seamless user experience…!!

Customers want to log in to their #OnlineElectricity Account and see a Real-time Report of their Consumption…They expect to Buy a Phone from their Telecommunications provider and have it Activated and Set-up immediately out of the box…They want #BankLoans, to be Pre-approved OR approved in minutes.. They expect all #ServiceProviders, to have automated access to all the data they provided earlier and not to ask the same questions over and over again…They wonder why a bank needs their salary slips as proof of income when their money is being deposited directly into the bank every month by their employer…!!

Many traditional organizations can’t meet these expectations… As a result, attackers born in the #DigitalAge, can swoop in and Disrupt the Market through rapid delivery of digital products and services combined with advanced algorithms and full access to information…

Customers wouldn’t phrase it this way, but they are demanding from companies in many industries a radical overhaul of business processes…Intuitive interfaces, around-the-clock availability, real-time fulfillment, personalized treatment, global consistency, and zero errors—this is the world to which customers have become increasingly accustomed. It’s more than a superior user experience, however; when companies get it right, they can also offer more competitive prices because of lower costs, better operational controls, and less risk..

Delighting the customer :

To meet these high customer expectations, companies must accelerate the digitization of their business processes. But they should go beyond simply automating an existing process. They must reinvent the entire business process, including cutting the number of steps required, reducing the number of documents, developing automated decision making, and dealing with regulatory and fraud issues. Operating models, skills, organizational structures, and roles need to be redesigned to match the reinvented processes. Data models should be adjusted and rebuilt to enable better decision making, performance tracking, and customer insights. Digitization often requires that old wisdom be combined with new skills, for example, by training a merchandising manager to program a pricing algorithm. New roles, such as data scientist and user-experience designer, may be needed…

The benefits are huge: by digitizing information-intensive processes, costs can be cut by up to 90 percent and turnaround times improved by several orders of magnitude. Examples span multiple industries: one bank digitized its mortgage-application and decision process, cutting the cost per new mortgage by 70 percent and slashing time to preliminary approval from several days to just one minute. A telecommunications company created a self-serve, prepaid service where customers could order and activate phones without back-office involvement. A shoe retailer built a system to manage its in-store inventory that enabled it to know immediately whether a shoe and size was in stock—saving time for customers and sales staff. An insurance company built a digital process to automatically adjudicate a large share of its simple claims..

In addition, replacing paper and manual processes with software allows businesses to automatically collect data that can be mined to better understand process performance, cost drivers, and causes of risk. Real-time reports and dashboards on digital-process performance permit managers to address problems before they become critical. For example, supply-chain-quality issues can be identified and dealt with more rapidly by monitoring customer buying behavior and feedback in digital channels. Leading organizations, have come to recognize that the traditional large-scale projects to migrate all current processes to a digital world often take an extremely long time to deliver impact, and sometimes don’t work at all. Instead, successful companies are reinventing processes, challenging everything related to an existing process and rebuilding it using cutting-edge digital technology. For example, rather than creating technology tools to help back-office employees type customer complaints into their systems, leading organizations create self-serve options for customers to type in their own complaints..

This kind of approach is usually done process by process in a series of short-term releases combining traditional Process Re-engineering methods like Lean, with New Agile software-development methodologies…!!

SUCCESS FACTORS :

Companies in most industries can learn from the practices employed by firms that have done this successfully..Which are :

Start at the End State and Work Back :

Digitization often enables a process to be fundamentally reconfigured; for example, combining automated decision making with self-service can eliminate manual processes. Successful digitization efforts start by designing the future state for each process without regard for current constraints—say, shortening a process turnaround time from days to minutes. Once a compelling future state has been described, constraints (for instance, legally required checks) can be reintroduced. Companies should not hesitate to challenge each constraint. Many are corporate myths that can be quickly resolved through discussions with customers or regulators.

Tackle the End-to-End Customer Experience :

Digitizing select stages of the customer experience may increase efficiency in specific areas of the process and address some burning customer issues, but it will never deliver a truly seamless experience, and as a result may leave significant potential on the table. To tackle an end-to-end process such as customer on-boarding, process-digitization teams need support from every function involved in the customer experience. The end customer should be heavily involved too, not least to challenge conventional wisdom. To do this, some firms are creating start-up-style, cross-functional units that bring together all colleagues—including IT developers—involved in the end-to-end customer experience…The cross-functional unit has the mandate to challenge the status-quo…Members are often collocated to improve lines of communication and ensure a true team effort.

Build Capabilities :

Digitization skills are in short supply, so successful programs emphasize building in-house capabilities. The goal is to create a center of excellence with skilled staff that can be called upon to digitize processes quickly. Still, many times companies must search for talent externally to address the need for new skill sets and roles, such as data scientists or user-experience designers. Given its importance, the first managers selected to lead the transformation should be carefully chosen, well trusted in the organization, and ready to commit for a long period of time. It is also important that the team has the skills needed to build the required technology components in a modular way so that they can be reused across processes, maximizing economies of scale.

Move Quickly :

Traditional IT-intensive programs deliver a return only at the end of the project, sometimes years after the project’s kickoff…Digitizing end-to-end processes one by one, however, can deliver improved performance in just three to five months. Complex IT challenges such as legacy-systems integration can be harder to move along quickly, but there are ways to mitigate the risks of delay. For example, one industrial company pursuing an IT legacy-systems integration used low-cost offshore resources to re-key Data among Systems, allowing a new #DigitalCustomer, process to be brought online for use with pilot customers while a robust IT interface was built in parallel…This approach reduced the risk involved with the integration effort and accelerated payback…

Moving quickly isn’t always easy…More often than not, it’s business decision making that’s causing the bottleneck rather than IT development. That’s why digitization programs need strong board-level support to align all the stakeholders, while all other decisions should be delegated to the project team..

Roll In, NOT Out :

In traditional deployment, a new solution is rolled out progressively across sites to existing user teams. However, a different approach may be needed when organizations undertake digitization, because of radical changes to processes and the supporting organization. For example, telecommunications salespeople may prefer customers to apply for services through the existing store system instead of self-serve kiosks. Bank-credit underwriters may not trust automated algorithms and may choose to review automatically approved applications. In these cases, it might be easier to roll in a new organizational unit to handle the new digital process, and then bring employees into this unit while increasing the volumes handled by it in parallel. This ensures a much easier transition to the digital process by not expending extensive energy on changing old habits and behaviors. By the time all process volume has migrated to the new digital process, the new organizational unit will have “swallowed” all the required employees from the legacy units.

Companies that digitize processes can improve their bottom lines and delight customers….The value at stake depends on the #BusinessModel, and Starting point but can be estimated by allocating costs to End-to-End processes and Bench-marking against peers…To kick-start the approach and Build Capabilities and Momentum, organizations can undertake one OR two pilots and then scale rapidly…!! 

The “SEVEN Habits” of Highly “Effective Digital-Enterprises” | McKinsey

The age of experimentation with digital is over… In an often bleak landscape of slow economic recovery, digital continues to show healthy growth…. #E-commerce, is growing at double-digit rates in the United States and most European countries, and it is booming across Asia…

To take advantage of this momentum, companies need to move beyond experiments with digital and transform themselves into digital businesses…Yet many companies are stumbling as they try to turn their digital agendas into new business and operating models. The reason, we believe, is that digital transformation is uniquely challenging, touching every function and business unit while also demanding the rapid development of new skills and investments that are very different from business as usual…To succeed, #ManagementTeams, need to move beyond vague statements of intent and focus on “hard wiring” digital into their organization’s structures, processes, systems, and incentives…

There is no blueprint for success, but there are plenty of examples that offer insights into the approaches and actions of a successful digital transformation…. By studying dozens of these successes—looking beyond the usual suspects..

We discovered that Highly Effective #DigitalEnterprises, share these SEVEN Habits:

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1. Be un-reasonably Aspirational:

Leadership teams must be prepared to think quite differently about how a digital business operates. Digital leaders set aspirations that, on the surface, seem unreasonable. Being “unreasonable” is a way to jar an organization into seeing digital as a business that creates value, not as a channel that drives activities. Some companies frame their targets by measures such as growth or market share through digital channels. Others set targets for cost reduction based on the cost structures of new digital competitors. Either way, if your targets aren’t making the majority of your company feel nervous, you probably aren’t aiming high enough.

When Angela Ahrendts became CEO of Burberry in 2006, she took over a stalling business whose brand had become tarnished. But she saw what no one else could: that a high-end fashion retailer could remake itself as a digital brand. Taking personal control of the digital agenda, she oversaw a series of groundbreaking initiatives, including a website (ArtoftheTrench.com) that featured customers as models, a more robust e-commerce catalog that matched the company’s in-store inventory, and the digitization of retail stores through features such as radio-frequency identification tags…During Ahrendts’s tenure, revenues tripled. (Apple hired Ahrendts last October to head its retail business)….!!

“Netflix” was another “Brand with an Un-reasonably Aspirational Vision”….It had built a successful online DVD rental business, but leadership saw that the future of the industry would be in video streaming, not physical media. The management team saw how quickly broadband technology was evolving and made a strategic bet that placed it at the forefront of a surge in real-time entertainment. As the video-streaming market took off, Netflix quickly captured nearly a third of downstream video traffic. By the end of 2013, Netflix had more than 40 million streaming subscribers…

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2. Acquire Capabilities:

The skills required for digital transformation probably can’t be groomed entirely from within. Leadership teams must be realistic about the collective ability of their existing workforce. Leading companies frequently look to other industries to attract digital talent, because they understand that emphasizing skills over experience when hiring new talent is vital to success, at least in the early stages of transformation. The best people in digital product management or user-experience design may not work in your industry. Hire them anyway.

Tesco, the UK grocery retailer, made three significant digital acquisitions over a two-year span: blinkbox, a video-streaming service; We7, a digital music store; and Mobcast, an e-book platform. The acquisitions enabled Tesco to quickly build up the skills it needed to move into digital media. In the United States, Verizon followed a similar path with strategic acquisitions that immediately bolstered its expertise in telematics (Hughes Telematics in 2012) and cloud services (CloudSwitch in 2011), two markets that are growing at a rapid pace.

This “acqui-hire” approach is not the only option. But we have observed that significant lateral hiring is required in the early stages of a transformation to create a pool of talent deep enough to execute against an ambitious digital agenda and plant the seeds for a new culture.

3. ‘Ring fence’ and “Cultivate-Talent”:

A Bank or Retailer that acquires a Five-person mobile-development firm and places it in the middle of its existing #WebOperations is more likely to lose the team than to assimilate it…. #DigitalTalent, must be nurtured differently, with its own working patterns, sandbox, and tools. After a few false starts, Wal-Mart Stores learned that “ring fencing” its digital talent was the only way to ensure rapid improvements... FOUR Years ago, the retail giant’s #OnlineBusiness, was lagging…It was late to the e-commerce market as executives protected their booming physical-retail business. When it did step into the digital space, talent was disbursed throughout the business. Its $5 billion in online sales in 2011 paled next to Amazon’s $48 billion…

In 2011, however, Wal-Mart established @WalmartLabs, an “idea incubator,” as part of its growing e-commerce division in Silicon Valley—far removed from the company’s Bentonville, Arkansas, headquarters. The group’s innovations, including a unified company-wide e-commerce platform, helped Wal-Mart increase online revenues by 30 percent in 2013, outpacing Amazon’s rate of growth…

Wal-Mart took ring fencing to the extreme, turning its e-commerce business into a separate vertical with its own profit and loss. This approach won’t work for every incumbent, and even when it does, it is not necessarily a long-term solution. Thus Telefónica this year recombined with the core business Telefónica Digital, a separate business unit created in 2011 to nurture and strengthen its portfolio of digital initiatives….To deliver in an #Omnichannel world, where customers expect seamless integration of digital and analog channels, seamless internal integration should be the end goal…

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4. Challenge Everything :

The leaders of incumbent companies must aggressively challenge the “Status-quo” rather than accepting historical norms…Look at how everything is done, including the products and services you offer and the #MarketSegment,s you address, and ask “Why?” Assume there is an unknown start-up asking the exact same question as it plots to disrupt your business….It is no coincidence that many textbook cases of companies redefining themselves come from Silicon Valley, the epicenter of #DigitalDisruption…Think of Apple’s transformation from struggling computer maker into (among other things) the world’s largest music retailer, or eBay’s transition from online bazaar to global e-commerce platform…

#DigitalLeaders, examine all aspects of their business—both customer-facing and back-office systems and processes, up and down the supply chain—for digitally driven innovation. In 2007, car-rental company Hertz started to deploy self-service kiosks similar to those used by airlines for flight check-in. In 2011, it leapfrogged airlines by moving to dual-screen kiosks—one screen to select rental options via touch screen, a second screen at eye level to communicate with a customer agent using real-time video.

We see digital leaders thinking expansively about partnerships to deliver new value-added experiences and services. This can mean alliances that span industry sectors, such as the Energy@home partnership among Electrolux, Enel, Indesit, and Telecom Italia to create a communications platform for smart devices and domestic appliances.

5. Be Quick and Data-driven:

Rapid decision making is critical in a dynamic digital environment. Twelve-month product-release cycles are a relic. Organizations need to move to a cycle of continuous delivery and improvement, adopting methods such as agile development and “live beta,” supported by big data analytics, to increase the pace of innovation. Continuous improvement requires continuous experimentation, along with a process for quickly responding to bits of information.

Integrating data sources into a single system that is accessible to everyone in the organization will improve the “clock speed” for innovation. P&G, for example, created a single analytics portal, called the Decision Cockpit, which provides up-to-date sales data across brands, products, and regions to more than 50,000 employees globally. The portal, which emphasizes projections over historical data, lets teams quickly identify issues, such as declining market share, and take steps to address the problems.

U.S. Xpress, a US transportation company, collects data in real time from tens of thousands of sources, including in-vehicle sensors and geospatial systems. Using Apache Hadoop, an open-source tool set for data analysis, and real-time business-intelligence tools, U.S. Xpress has been able to extract game-changing insights about its fleet operations. For example, looking at the fuel consumption of idling vehicles led to changes that saved the company more than $20 million in fuel consumption in the first year alone…

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6. Follow the #Money:

Many organizations focus their digital investments on customer-facing solutions. But they can extract just as much value, if not more, from investing in back-office functions that drive operational efficiencies. A digital transformation is more than just finding new revenue streams; it’s also about creating value by reducing the costs of doing business.

Investments in digital should not be spread haphazardly across the organization under the halo of experimentation. A variety of frequent testing is critical, but teams must quickly zero in on the digital investments that create the most value—and then double down.

Often, great value is found in optimizing back-office functions. At Starbucks, one of the leaders in customer-experience innovation, just 35 of 100 active IT projects in 2013 were focused on customer- or partner-facing initiatives. One-third of these projects were devoted to improving efficiency and productivity away from the retail stores, and one-third focused on improving resilience and security. In manufacturing, P&G collaborated with the Los Alamos National Laboratory to create statistical methods to streamline processes and increase uptime at its factories, saving more than $1 billion a year.

7. Be obsessed with the Customer :

Rising customer expectations continue to push businesses to improve the customer experience across all channels…Excellence in one channel is no longer sufficient ; customers expect the same frictionless experience in a retail store as they do when shopping online, and vice versa…Moreover, they are less accepting of bad experiences; one survey found that 89 percent of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience. On the flip side, 86 percent said they were willing to pay more for a better #CustomerExperience..

A healthy obsession with improving the customer experience is the foundation of any #DigitalTransformation… No enterprise is perfect, but leadership teams should aspire to fix every error or #BadExperience….Processes that enable companies to capture and learn from every customer interaction—positive or negative—help them to regularly test assumptions about how customers are using digital and constantly fine-tune the experience…

This mind-set is what enables companies to go beyond what’s normal and into the extraordinary. If online retailer Zappos is out of stock on a product, it will help you find the item from a competitor. Little wonder that 75 percent of its orders come from repeat customers.

Leaders of successful digital businesses know that it’s not enough to develop just one or two of these habits…The real innovators will learn to excel at all SEVEN of them.. “Doing so requires a radically different Mind-set and Operating approach…!!”

“Reshaping the #Retail-Store” as A “Powerful Weapon” in Today’s “Highly Competitive #Omni-channelWorld” | by: Gary Lee | Retail Touchpoints

” Claims of Brick-and-Mortar’s looming ” demise “ are definitely more than a bit exaggerated…”, Despite the exponential growth of E-Commerce, a variety of new shopping options and even the advent of the dreaded “ Show-rooming ” trend, #PhysicalRetailStores still amass more than 90% of overall sales, and #Brick-and-Mortar continues to be the channel of choice for consumers of all ages and income levels….!!

That said, however, the retail world has definitely been knocked off balance by evolving and shifting #ConsumerShoppingBehaviors…Today’s connected consumer controls when, how, where and how often he or she visits, buys, interacts and even recommends brands to others across Brick-and-Mortar and Online channels..

And with consumers being more and more constantly “connected” to the web across their phones, tablets, eye-wear and other devices, it’s critical to break through their online world and give them a reason to come into #PhysicalRetailSpaces…!!

Customer Experience ( CX ) : The Differential :

To do this, retailers must rediscover the “why, how and wow” of their physical stores for consumers —why their physical store positively impacts consumers, how it helps move them along the buying process, and what the unique “ wow ” is that cannot be replicated in an online world.

These THREE Factors can be summarized as the #CustomerExperience (CX) a consumer has in the #RetailStore, which uniquely allows them to physically interact with and experience the product or service before they buy. It represents the last and perhaps most critical chance for a brand to make a positive impact before the purchase, and it is uniquely a part of the Physical #RetailExperience…!!

It’s therefore critical that both large and small retailers find a way to create these customer experiences. In this fiercely competitive market, intentional CX may be the only remaining way to differentiate, compete and win..

Here, I outline at a high level the vital tactics for successfully implementing an impactful retail CX project through the right balance of strategy, design, execution and continuous measurement and improvement…

Tactic 1: ” Leverage Your CX Project As A Strategic Move”, Not As Just Another Marketing Ploy :

There are many reasons to develop a new customer experience, but which ones make the most sense for your company? Simply implementing a new solution as a direct response to market competition and trends is not enough. You must dig deeper… Think in terms of what you want your customers to know, believe, feel or do before, during and after this experience. Then, begin your best first tactic — a plan, or better yet, a CX strategy…!!

The core of a CX (customer experience) strategy hinges on THREE Key things :

Stakeholder Collaboration — Bringing relevant stakeholders together to define business goals and measures of success is key to moving forward with your project. An important step here is differentiating your business needs from your requirements. This clarity will make it easier to benchmark the performance of your CX down the road..

Research — A key decision you will need to make is whether to conduct new research beyond your current reservoir, and if so, what kind. Whatever your decision, research is key to developing empathy for your customer. Without that, products and solutions can end up being uninteresting and even useless. Use this data to develop a 360-degree view of your customers and their needs and expectations. This will also help define the parameters of your CX.

Team Formation — Early in the process, form your team and clearly outline goals, expectations, roles and responsibilities. While team formation depends on the specific needs of the project, the team will usually include a project manager, strategist, design team and solutions management team..

The output of the strategy phase will be a CX Requirements Document—similar to a Design Brief, but a lot more comprehensive — detailing overall objectives, a project overview, design objectives, expectations, considerations and measures of success.

Tactic 2 : Design Intentionally, Practically And Impactfully :

The design team works to create something tangible OR visible, and formulates everything from how the experience looks and feels to how users will interact with the new experience. As you move into the design phase, much of the information your design team will need should already be captured in your CX Requirements Document..

Begin by mapping out the entire #CustomerJourney…. This means looking at all the #TouchPoints your customers encounter while interacting with your Brand—Pre-, During and Post-purchase — and understanding what your customers are thinking and feeling at each touch point. Consider what kinds of interactions are you wanting to elicit, what senses you want to activate and what you want customers to do. The most #EngagingExperiences are intentional — carefully planned and built to address specific user needs…

As you move further through design, I recommend prototyping fast and early. The quicker you can get a sketch off paper, the quicker you can start acting out how people might use the solution and thinking of ways to improve it. This also keeps your design grounded in practicality so you aren’t left with a vision that never leaves the paper. This process allows you to see how all the components are working together from a production standpoint and to explore different material and assembly options.

Another important consideration during the design phase is using digital or technology. These elements create impactful experiences by layering elements that improve effective customer engagement and delight the customer…

Tactic 3 : “Measure, Measure Then Measure again”:

After successfully implementing your CX project, it might seem like it is time to move on to the next project… But then you would be forgetting a key part of this process : ” Ongoing Measurement”… Measurement is its own priority, and project leaders commonly underestimate the value of measuring the solution’s ongoing effectiveness. To make any progress, a company must be able to monitor whether or not it is actually delivering what it intended, as well as calculate the return on investment. Collecting data consistently and regularly puts a company in a much better position to understand its customers, the effectiveness of its CX solution and how the solution impacts its business…

For our clients, we like to conduct a reality gap analysis before and after implementation to really gauge the effectiveness of the solution for all stakeholders — the customer, the brand and the sales associate, if applicable — and determine metrics for improvement. However, measurement does not end there. Ongoing measurement connects a project from implementation back to strategy and helps to continuously improve the existing solution so that it always aligns with meeting customer needs and expectations..

Following Steps To Success :

The #RetailLandscape is morphing before our very eyes…. To survive, companies must adapt and ramp up their CX arsenal or accept defeat…!!

This will require a hard look at the traditional retail customer experience and an altered way of thinking. They must be able to track and understand the customer’s entire journey, from realizing a need to the post-purchase relationship.

It demands collaboration and a heightened awareness of strategy, design and implementation to craft truly relevant and meaningful customer experiences that effectively engage the customer…

It means looking at each channel, including the physical store, and determining what role it should play in the overall experience to facilitate a seamless continuity of the experience in True Omni-channel Fashion….!!

“Evolution of Real Estate Landscape in India”; from “Un-organised to Professional” | Realty Plus

 

” The Real-estate sector, whose contribution to the country’s GDP is “second only to Agriculture”, has been witnessing “growth with quadrupled property values” over the past decade”…

However, this un-organised sector bears the brunt of the economic slowdown leading to subdued sales, piles of unsold inventory and builders going bankrupt.

In the past decade, un-organised realtors could thrive and even flourish due to the high appreciation of property and a steady rising demand. This growth however, attracted a large number of players, both professional organisations as well as smaller outfits.

This spike in real estate development has the buyer spoilt for choice. Realising this, realtors (big or small) are trying to move up the totem pole by streamlining their operations. 

Deserve Builders and Developer Ltd., a realtor based in Mumbai, recognised the need for the development of a leadership pipeline and streamlined processes. The company assessed and identified key competencies that their people need to imbibe, along with the company values and culture.

Deserve has partnered with a Business Consulting, a management consulting firm in Mumbai, for a large scale change intervention to restructure their entire systems and processes.. This will include intensive sessions where their managers will be assessed on and then trained to improve their leadership competencies.

Another noteworthy case is that of The Wadhwa Group, a leading real estate developer, who is recognized for their excellence in design and quality.

The realtor realized that by delivering an exceptional customer experience, they could differentiate themselves from other builders. With this goal in mind, The Wadhwa Group partnered with Acumen to help them articulate and develop a world-class customer experience. Acumen first designed and conducted a customer experience survey with the current, past and potential customers of The Wadhwa Group. The survey helped understand their needs and perceptions and identify possible solutions aimed towards enhancing the customers’ overall experience. With these insights Acumen went about designing a customer experience and rolling it out at the various customer touch-points of The Wadhwa Group.

“This partnership with Acumen intends to ensure that customers experience the quality of service delivered by iconic brands across the world. Though the real estate industry is gradually gaining acceptance, important aspects of customer service like transparency and governance have been overshadowed. By taking this step, we want to redefine service parameters for the real estate industry. It is our endeavor to create every engagement with our brand, a lasting experience for an individual”, said Srinivasan Gopalan, COO, TheWadhwa Group.

“The average Age of Home-buyers has reduced. Moreover, the Indian customer is exposed to elevated levels of customer experience in all product categories and has a larger selection to choose from, especially in the real estate sector. Intent is to bring about a sea change in the way real estate is sold…”