It's All About the Customer at Hilton

By Tony Kontzer Print this article Print
Customer Experience

Hilton Worldwide has turned what was once a trite business maxim—customer experience—into a powerful, and apparently hard to replicate, business strategy.

The app, and Hilton's approach to it, is a perfect example of how the company understands customer satisfaction on a level that most companies miss entirely. And it's worth noting that before app features such as the room selection and digital key functions are made public, Hilton has more than 100 employees use them as a guest would to ensure that they deliver the goods. That level of care was evident in the final result.

"They took inventory of their moments of truth, such as room selection, registration, declaring preferences and special orders, and built customer-facing apps for iPhone and Android [devices] that make the moments of truth come to life," says Beagle Research's Pombriant.

Rethinking the Hotel-Guest Dynamic

What makes Hilton's success on this front even more impressive is where its industry has come from. Hilton's app doesn't just create a better customer experience. It rethinks the entire hotel-guest dynamic in which travelers traditionally stood at check-in counters and were clueless about what clerks on the other side were doing.

"We've removed that veil of mystery and given the control to the guest," Shefsky says. And she's not exaggerating: Guests using the room selection feature are now seeing the exact same information that hotel clerks see.

Hilton employees have embraced the concept of having guests have more control, in large part because Hilton has paid nearly as much attention to ushering staff through the change as it has to engineering that change. That means rolling out training and processes that are more supportive and reflective of the guest experience.

The approach to training, in particular, has been modernized with programs that make use of mobile devices and emphasize gamification in order to encourage employee adoption of the new tools and processes. And snazzy new dashboards give employees at-a-glance insight into guests who interact with Hilton digitally.

Hilton's holistic approach to continually improving the total customer experience highlights the multifaceted challenge posed by customers—and how valuable successfully tackling that challenge can be. From the quality of its rooms to the personal service provided by employees to the way it empowers guests with technology, Hilton has made itself the envy of its industry, and its customers are the lucky beneficiaries.

This article was originally published on 2016-02-25

Tony Kontzer, a Baseline contributor since 2007, has been writing about the intersection of technology and business for more than 20 years. 

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