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5 Ways Technology Will Transform the Concierge Landscape in 2018

The luxury concierge industry has always been focused on very personal, high-touch interactions, centered around delivering exceptional experiences. Because of this, technology has remained behind-the-scenes.

Driven by customer expectations for increased digital connectivity, universally fast-paced lifestyles, demand for instant gratification, and smart phone applications permeating every aspect of our lives, the luxury concierge industry is developing ways to enhance the customer experience by integrating traditional services with new, cutting edge technology. To stay relevant, concierge and customer loyalty companies must speed up the pace of innovation and adopt new strategies, while also striking the right balance between dedicated human interaction and digital automation. This “Human + Digital” approach is critical in order to foster deeper relationships, deliver more personalization, and curate richer experiences for customers – at scale.

Those who embrace this technological momentum are able to differentiate themselves from the competition, and empower their teams to provide a superior customer experience. It is more important than ever for the concierge industry to offer its users outstanding and memorable customer experiences through an omnichannel approach.

Here are five specific technologies that will change the concierge landscape this year.

1. Artificial Intelligence & Chatbots

Today there are hundreds of thousands of chatbots, or ‘bots,’ that provide everything from medical advice to weather conditions through an interactive interface. Most bots function on a set of rules and are only as smart as they are programmed to be. However, the next generation will operate with machine learning, leveraging applied experience to become smarter over time. Bots can bring speed and efficiency to the concierge market, minimizing human error while still delivering a personal experience. The concierge industry is already utilizing artificial intelligence to respond to inquiries and handle simple requests, simulating human conversation with natural language processing. This automates aspects of the business, enabling Concierges to spend time on complex requests while the bots provide 24/7, uninterrupted coverage.

Artificial intelligence is also being leveraged to help the human element, the Concierges, to provide better and more personalized experiences. In the past, the success of the luxury concierge industry has been built, in part, on the ability of Concierges to capture all information on a client and either remember it, or manually enter requests and preferences into a CRM, which is then used for future requests. Modern technology is streamlining this process. Now data is mined using natural language technology during phone conversations, emails, and text messages between Concierge and client (or bot and client). Look-alike technology is being used to predict what customers will like based on requests completed by similar profiles, which helps proactively assist brand-new customers in a way that simulates a long history of dedicated 1:1 service. In 2018, we will see more instances of the data being mined from external sources combined with internal data, to create an even more advanced customer profile. In addition to being able to offer a personalized experience at scale, this also provides an anticipation of needs that is uncannily aligned with the client’s own. Human Concierge combined with an advanced data aggregator enables us to better predict what our customers want and make faster, more personalized, expert recommendations, anywhere in the world. Throughout this year we will see more examples of the digitally-enhanced Concierge; an “augmented Concierge”, a human supported by technology, delivering the next level of service experience. Brands and companies who pay for customer loyalty strategies such as concierge services on behalf of their customer or employees, will see services like this emerge as a scalable option for larger groups of people, and those who have invested in the high-touch service will see increased ROI.

2. Connected Devices & Smart-Home Assistants

Concierge services are becoming accessible via connected smart home assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home, as well as wearable devices like the 3rd generation Apple Watch and the $3,000 wearable Android device from Louis Vuitton, the Tambour Horizon, bringing real-time convenience and connectivity to customers wherever they are. From the comfort of their own homes or on the go, clients can request concierge assistance and access services with the use of their voice through new touchpoints in a more seamless way. In 2018, use of concierge through connected devices will continue to increase, while new devices will become available such as Apple HomePod, which is expected to launch early this year.

3. Machine Learning

For the concierge industry, advanced machine learning technology will allow each interaction to become even more powerful. With every concierge request submitted, machine learning will provide an opportunity to bring more depth and understanding in anticipating a client’s needs – shaping a stronger foundation to use as a platform in servicing them.
With the integration of machine learning with bots, we will start to see advanced request management. Bots will be able to self-learn without being specifically programmed, and therefore will be able to provide a meaningful response paired with real-time decision making based on a customer’s actual interaction. As we see interactive AI become standard for concierge services, the architecture and design will evolve to bring cognitive processing to the industry and this is a powerful experience in a concierge setting. It means deeper customer engagement through a more profound understanding of the needs and interests of the clients leading to higher levels of satisfaction, and for the brands that leverage concierge services as part of their customer loyalty strategy, stronger engagement, and “brand hospitality.” Brand Hospitality is the digitally enhanced Concierge paired with ACRM (advanced customer relationship management, the next-level CRM). This transforms the way consumers relate to brands, turning a purchase into an experience, and this experience into an addiction.

4. Geo Targeting & Advanced Location Services

Geo targeting enables human Concierges to bring clients customized options based on their exact location. This isn’t a new idea, however as the digital consumer becomes even more connected (bots, AI, machine learning, IoT), geo targeting will become super-charged this year, enabling concierges to offer tailored options that integrate location with previous preferences and activities. The location services themselves are becoming even more refined, able to target a 4-square-foot space around the customer which moves as they move, as opposed to an 8-city-block radius of the past. For example, a concierge armed with a client’s real-time location can immediately pre-select offers or suggestions on dining, entertainment, and more for booking. They can even deliver personalized messages to their customers based on whether they’re coming, going, or staying in for the evening, and notify them of attractions or upcoming events they may enjoy during their vacation based on preferences and past behavior. Concierges can even notify a restaurant that a customer will be late for their reservation if they can see that the person is stuck in traffic and moving slowly.

5. Internet of Things (IoT) & Blockchain

Many companies in the customer loyalty and hospitality space have tapped into the Internet of Things (IoT), from hotels which are enabling guests to assert preferences set through their mobile device to things like showers that set a guest’s preferred temperature, or a mobile app that controls television, lighting or digital art. The latest strategies in IoT, along with artificial intelligence and advanced data analytics, are creating a seamless digital/physical experience that is made possible by modern technology. By implementing an IoT based infrastructure, supported by a blockchain technology (which supports and connects the customers entire life-cycle to client preferences), concierge companies will not only be able to provide clients with access to information, service support and assistance, wherever, whenever they are, but also personalize their environment in a real-time way that has never been possible before. Blockchain provides a means to streamline payments and settlements and can offer a single secure way to manage a global ledger. In fact, it purportedly can protect any kind of asset or transaction that needs to be tamper-resistant. Blockchain is the “underlying technology” behind Bitcoin but its use goes well beyond Virtual Currency. We could see IoT supported by blockchain technology as a game-changer for the concierge industry due to its ability to enhance a complex business that deals with payment and settlements involving multiple suppliers, countries and currencies, (think about a complex concierge request for an around-the-world trip), as well as through its potential ability to exchange value without a middle man. In other words, blockchain can create a way to establish trust between two or more people or entities, without the need for anyone else to vouch for them. The latter concept is coined the Internet of Value (IoV) and is a concept that could become a true disruptor within not just the concierge industry, but across many industries. It could disrupt peer-to-peer networks such as Uber, and some have predicted that it may be even become as impactful as the invention of electricity or the internet…

In 2016-2017, we saw a great deal of consolidation within the industry, and the emergence of a “one-stop shop” customer loyalty company, essentially a “super company,” who not only delivers concierge services for brands, but also delivers broader customer loyalty solutions, including strategic consulting, customer acquisition, retention, cross-selling, enhanced call center services and expert marketing solutions.

As we enter into 2018, a year in which technology promises to further assimilate into the everyday lives of consumers, the concierge industry must consider recent market changes and the role of new technology innovations in how they service today’s tech-savvy clients. Today’s customer is a digital customer, and only becoming more so as Millennials and Generation Z rise through the ranks of today’s workforce. Modern concierge and loyalty companies must view technology as the core of personalization and customer service. Those that do will not only distinguish themselves within the industry, but gain greater market share and cement their future in a technology-driven world.

 

ABOUT JOHN PAUL

John Paul, part of AccorHotels Group, is the premier digitally-enhanced global concierge service providing brands across the banking, luxury, automotive, travel, technology, and hospitality industries, with customized loyalty solutions through cutting-edge digital technology. From designing the customer journey to creating bespoke affinity programs, John Paul offers a unique “one-stop” approach to premium relationship and membership strategies worldwide. An expert in driving long-term customer and employee engagement, John Paul reinvented one of the most beautiful jobs in the world, that of the prestigious luxury hotel concierge. Equipped with state of the art digital tools, over 1,000 employees spanning across five continents, patented technology, an exclusive network of partners, and white-labeled services, John Paul offers companies and brands, a best-in-class, personalized, 24/7, omnichannel experience, for their most valued customer or employees, anywhere in the world.

 

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