“You’ve got the inbound call centre, email marketing, then the customer turns up at the hotel or cruise line, but nothing joins it up. Customers can tell you subtly about themselves, but do not on one device.
“Thunderhead offers a thin level of cloud, to plug into all of that, to identify that person, mapping across devices into one journey.”
He says it is at this stage that many people will be put off by the idea of a system integrating into all their platforms, but he assures would-be clients that there’s little work involved.
“We don’t replace anything and plug it in in just a few days. It’s non-disruptive, and our team does all the work.”
So what exactly is plugged in? As an example, Thorogood cites Titan Travel as one of its latest travel industry clients.
To “demonstrate its complete commitment to understanding the British traveller’s genuine needs better than anyone else”, Titan trialled Thunderhead’s One Engagement Hub, which connects customer insight, context and real-time journey behaviour across all touchpoints.
Staff wanted to understand each and every one of their customers’ “trip intent” and provide a personalised experience across all their communication channels. Titan ran the platform over a three-month period. “They liked the results, then continued. We tend to offer a 60 to 90-day pilot, which gives clients time to try things.”
Experienced sales staff are normally the guinea pigs, who are able to train up colleagues later. Within days of using Thunderhead’s platform, £9,000 worth of incremental holiday bookings were seen as a result of analysing a customer’s browsing behaviour. Over the course of 12 weeks, email and web recognition of previously anonymous online interactions increased from 0% to 7% – with 20,000 unique customers identified. Emails can be tracked across different devices thanks to a simple “pixel tracker”.
Part of this extra £9,000 revenue was generated by triggering outbound calls. Staff are able to tell if an individual has been on the website, and the tool will then prompt the employee that they should call them. It’s not all Big Brother either, argues Thorogood, as consumers are generally impressed by this kind of savvy customer service.
“We also say to sales staff, don’t wait for a campaign start; we say send it now. With these data points, send it now or they’ll go back to Expedia, for example. Don’t wait until your Friday email blast.” Sharing data The dots can be further joined for larger organisations.
Thorogood continues: “For example, once bookings are taken, staff can push data to the check-in staff, so they can start a conversation. If the customer had been browsing the hotel restaurants section, and a new chef just started, check-in staff would be able to build up a relationship.”
Or they might be prompted by the system to suggest a conversation about theatre tickets, or for a cruise line a balcony upgrade. “It’s self-learning – the more you listen, the better,” he adds.
Meanwhile, the One platform takes personalisation a step further. If a customer has already booked, the way they see the company’s website can also be customised. “We can overlay smaller bits of content. We will know if that person had not booked travel insurance, so we can use that real estate for something relevant.”
Travel customers alongside Titan so far include two camping operators, a cruise company and hotel chain GLH (owner of Hard Rock Hotels).
And Thorogood says a company with 20 employees or upwards can benefit from the tool – as long as there is “enough volume to make it meaningful”.