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Customer effort: 4 reasons why it is crucial for guest satisfaction

A high customer effort means lower guest satisfaction and loyalty. Learn how to recognize if you have a high customer effort and how to fix it.
Anna Randow
Mar 6, 2023
9 min read
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Customer effort is one of the metrics used in hotels to measure guest satisfaction. It is all about how easy a product or service is to use, or in other words, how easy it is for a customer to do something within the guest journey. 

Either make a booking, modify that booking, ask for extra services, and more. What customers want is to get what they need in the easiest, most efficient and most timely way possible. And believe it or not, having a high customer effort can be one of the reasons why your guests are not returning to your hotel.

Let’s explore what both a high and low customer effort look like in practice, the reasons why it is impactful and how that can impact the strategy you need to have to increase your guests’ satisfaction. 

Customer effort in practice 

Let’s take a look at the journey of 2 different guests in 2 different hotels. 

Both guests went to the same city and booked a 2-night stay in 2 different hotels. One week before the day of arrival, they received a message saying they could only check-in from 2 pm onwards. However, both of them would arrive at 7 am in the city and had a lot of luggage to carry, making it difficult for them to visit if they need to carry it around. 

Guest A in Hotel A 

Guest A tried to reach out to the hotel to know if it was possible to check in earlier. She sends an e-mail asking about it but two days later there is still no reply, so she tries to call. When she calls, the call keeps being redirected to someone else, and finally, after 45 minutes of waiting she gets to someone who is able to answer and tells her she just needs to pay 10 euros if she wants the check-in earlier. 

Guest B in Hotel B 

In the message mentioning the check-in time, there was a section with the title “Do you want to check-in at a different time?” and there it explained that all the guest needed to do was pay 10 more euros. 

At the end of the explanation, there was a button saying “Pay here”. The guest clicked and in less than one minute it was possible to check in at the time of their preference, while also increasing the hotel’s revenue. 

Which guest do you think was happier? Or, from another perspective, which guest do you think was unhappy with their experience?

Why? Because her customer effort was much higher than guest B to whom the experience was very smooth and effortless to get to the exact same outcome. 

And which hotel do you think will have a better guest relationship and higher satisfaction? Hotel B as they provided an effortless guest experience. 

Why customer effort is crucial 

#1 Customers dislike complicated processes 

The more complicated it is to go through their customer journey, the less likely customers will go through it again. 94% of customers with a low-effort experience claimed they would repurchase, while only 4% with a high-effort experience said the same. 

In practice, what this shows is that if you make it too complicated for your guests to access information, get additional services, make changes to their booking, ask questions & get answers, and more, they will not be happy and, in the end, they will not come back. 

#2 Attention and motivation last very little 

A customer's current average attention span is 8 seconds. 8 seconds is the time you have to capture your guest’s attention and engage with them. This translates to the fast pace we all live in nowadays, and how everything needs to happen fast and efficiently. 

What happens if you miss their attention? They will move on to the next option and you missed your chance. 

#3 Easy to switch if it’s too complicated 

STR estimates there are around 187 000 hotels in the world, which means 187 000 brands competing for guests to choose them. 

Imagine the scenario that a guest comes to you and it is too complicated to book, or they need to call 3 different numbers before they get an answer, or wait several days for a message reply, what do you think they will do? 

They forget about you and move on to the next accommodation. After all, it’s as easy as googling it. If another brand provides a better experience, of course they will go for them. 

Given that 89% of businesses compete on customer experience and that customers have the full power of choice with just a click, it’s highly competitive. Thus, if it is too complicated to go through their customer journey with a brand, they simply switch to another. 

As you saw in the previous scenario, 2 different hotels in the same city provided very different experiences when it comes to customer effort. 

In the end, the hotel providing a high-effort customer experience will most likely lose customers to the one providing an effortless hospitality experience. Making it easy is, thus, crucial. 

#4 Effortless experience provides a more enjoyable time 

With fewer things to think about, customers can truly enjoy their time. In the same way that you enjoy a guided tour because you don’t need to look for the facts about the city yourself, guests prefer to have the experience without having to think about too many details. 

This way they only need to focus on making the most out of it, without logistical details on their minds. 

And who is responsible for making sure that happens? The hotelier. 

It is your role to plan the customer journey and make sure guests do not need to be on top of details such as reminding themselves of the check-in time or finding the answers to their questions on the website. 

You need to be one step ahead and make it easy for them to know the information they need without even thinking about it. 

The less effort they have throughout their journey, the more they enjoy their time in a valuable way, and ultimately build a guest relationship with you. 

How you can decrease customer effort 

Considering all the reasons why customer effort needs to be lowered, you need to take action to be able to achieve it. Here are some key actions you should take. 

Self-service 

Allow the customer to take control of their journey, with self-service options when possible so that they can directly solve what they want by themselves without the need to reach out to the hotel. 

For example, provide them with a place to check all the information about their booking and the hotel digitally, which can include the services you provide, which events are happening at the hotel, check-in and check-out times, and the possibility to do contactless check in and checkcout directly there, among others. 

Here they should also be able to make changes such as adding additional services, changing the date of the booking or requesting late check in and late check out. 

No need to repeat information 

Don’t make guests repeat the same information over and over again to different staff members. That takes a lot of effort and will become frustrating for the guest experience. 

A simple way to solve this is to have all the information about guests in one single place for the whole staff to check so that they don’t have to repeat it. 

If you combine guest data from different platforms (such as the PMS, OTAs, F&B, etc), you can have a central profile for each guest with the background of all the interactions they had with you as well as their personal information. 

This way every member of the staff knows what they need to know about all guests without them needing to tell it over and over again. 

Personalisation 

Don’t make guests feel like they are just one more in several. Personalise your communication with each guest based on the information you know about them. 

This personalisation can take several forms, such as reaching them in the channel of their preference (WhatsApp, e-mail, SMS, etc), and making personalised service offers. 

With that, they don’t need to make the effort to look for the information and offers that suit their needs because you already consider that and tailor their experience for them. 

No extra effort to solve an issue 

Don’t make the guest have extra effort to solve an issue, give them all the tools to know what they can expect. This is valid throughout the whole guest journey. 

When they are visiting your website, be there to answer their questions straight away, when they have an issue during their stay be there, and when they leave the hotel and they need a payment confirmation or they lost something and they need your help, be there again. 

These are just a few examples, but the conclusion is: be there for them all the time and make it easy for them to reach you. 

How can you achieve all this? Through technology. 

Face-to-face interactions are directly associated with a personal touch, but it is good to bear in mind that it is not the only way. Customers are keener and keener on digital experiences with the possibility of doing everything they need from their phones and from anywhere. 

Thus, digitalising touchpoints with guests will not jeopardise their experience, but rather improve it. 

Evaluate, act & harvest happiness and loyalty

All in all, the summary is: you need to evaluate what is the current state of your customer effort, build a strategy to decrease it and in the end, increase customer satisfaction and loyalty. 

This will result in happy guests, positive word-of-mouth, more successful cross-selling and upselling, and fewer costs thanks to less repetitive interactions with the staff. In the end, this means higher guest satisfaction and loyalty, more revenue and more guests. 

If you want to get advice on how to decrease your customer effort and get closer to these results, feel free to talk with one of our experts for free and get tailored information for your specific needs!

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