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Use Mobile to Create Customer Profiles and Reshape Customer Experience

Ashley Sefferman  //  October 3, 2017  //  11 min read

The mobile channel is a brand’s biggest asset in understanding and delivering the personalized experiences today’s consumers have come to expect.

We had the pleasure of hosting Terri Monroe-Gordillo, Director of Quality & Brand Experience at G6 Hospitality, to discuss strategies for leveraging mobile for personalization at our recent Customer Love Summit. In her talk, Terri shares how G6 Hospitality uses mobile to build unique guest profiles to provide ultra-personalized experiences and earn customer loyalty. She teaches you how to do the same at your company through:

  • The 5W’s of building customer profiles
  • Learning how to identify your gaps
  • Strategies to up-level your entire customer experience to fill the gaps

Watch her entire talk below for deep insights around leveraging your mobile channel to improve your customer profiles, and ultimately, your customer experience.

If you’d rather read than watch, check out the transcription below.


Terry: So, I’m here to talk about…well, to begin with, I’m really bad with cooking recipes, like, following directions. So, I have this in hand, but I’m probably not gonna follow it because it’s gonna be a worse experience for you. So, I’m just gonna set this down over here. Try to put my mic back on.

I love the theme, “Customer Love.” So, one of the things that I had asked myself when preparing for this presentation was, “How do you define customer love?” Right? What is that? So, that brought me to “Voice of the Customer.” So, “Voice of the Customer.” So, you look it up and there’s a couple of definitions. You can find them all over the place. XP… sorry, Wikipedia has one, but I think the best one that I found was actually Six Sigma.

Okay, so here’s where I break this out. There’s just no way memorizing a definition. So Six Sigma defines, “It is a process used to capture the requirements and feedback from the customer, internal or external, to provide the customers with the best in class service/product quality.” So, it’s really a process about being proactive, and constantly innovative to capture the changing requirements of customers over time. Okay, so, if you’re reading the definition it makes sense, but it doesn’t really boil down to what does it mean to you as an individual, you as a company. So, really it’s “voice of the customer” describes the stated and unstated needs or requirements of the customer.

So, what that implies is you need to know who your customer is, and that you need to be able to communicate with them to hear what those needs are. Sometimes people think of data as providing that information, but that’s really not all it, and people that work with data know that. And so the next thing is not just knowing your customer or communicating with them, but really connecting with them.

So, ideally, you’re never gonna use…sorry, you’ll never lose the human element, machine learning and everything, kind of, captures for scale, but, ideally, you’ll always gonna wanna be able to connect across the user’s journey however they’re interesting with your brand, with your company, with your product, what have you.

So, that said, part of the thing I was asked to do was, kind of, give you some insight as to why I’m up here. What I’ve done over the course of product with G6. So, I am responsible for, really, way too much for what I get paid for, but I’m responsible for all of our quality platforms. So, operational quality, which includes measuring at every property, brand standards, compliance, service, cleanliness condition, right? Which is a component of the guest experience, guest feedback. So, surveys, online reviews. And now, and guest…the CRM, so I built a guest database.

Part of that is we have all these disparate systems. So, we have a reservation system that captures reservations, and the unit is seen as a reservation. So, if you were to make a reservation, I don’t know you, I don’t really care about you, I just care about they’re capturing reservation. And that reservation gets shipped over to the property and they see it in a different system, and they see that as a stay. And, again, they’re not gonna know you, they just know that you stayed.

So, how do you connect with customers through all these disparate systems? And I’m sure through retail it’s very similar. And I think across several different industries you could look at all the different things, all the different systems, platforms, tools everybody uses and there’s so much rich data in there.

How do you connect that data without getting drowned in data to find meaningful ways to recognize, know your customer, and the opportunities to connect without being intrusive? And giving them a way to connect with you, so that you can glean their feedback, their desires and start anticipating, which makes for a better product, a better experience. And so you kinda continue to iterate, hopefully for the better, through doing so.

So, in looking at all of the different systems, you can put controls in place and you can start making connections, and there are some products that take a lot longer. So, we have a process or project right now called, IT 2.0. So, that’s looking at everything that we do and that’s a multi-year, which is certainly a lot harder than going out and building a brand new app. So, for a means to get personal, we scratched the mobile app that we had because personalization matters. Now see, there you go. So, I’m really bad at these. Let me just through these back down.

If I ever invite you to dinner, I promise I won’t follow a recipe. My cooking is much better when I just wing it. So, personalization matters and there’s some statistics that 63% of customers think more positively for personalization of a brand, of a product, of a whatever. Fifty nine percent of customers say it influences their shopping decision, the level of personalization. So, it matters.

So, know your customer, get personal with them was really important for me, for my company. And the quickest way to do that was to take all that disparate information, build out a guest database where everything is an attribute to a unique person. So, now I know who, I know my customer, then I can capture all of their journeys, all of their experiences, their feedback. Ideally, we’re gonna get to what I call, “Customer 360.”

So let’s say, Sam Smith before was a reservation with a reservation number, a stay with a confirmation number. It was a survey response where it had his email and his feedback, but where did he book? When did he stay? And all of that. I had to go to different places. And that was for one. So, let’s think of Sam going multiple places at multiple times. I don’t know, he may have stayed with us 100 times versus another Sam Smith who stayed once and never came back. And how do you communicate with those two? How do you place value on those two different types of customers? There is value in both, but it’s obviously going to be different.

So, mobile app. So, we had a loyalty life program. It wasn’t really anything except, “Hey, will save you time on booking. Give us all your information up front, we’ll keep it for you.” So, when you book, we just slide that information in, but you couldn’t change it, you couldn’t do anything with it. So, if you’re booking for a friend you’re kinda screwed. So, we rebuilt the loyalty program, tied it to the new mobile app, and now we’re able to capture the real Sam Smith, all of his information, in the back end, into the database.

That Sam Smith on mobile logs in can stay logged in as long as he wants. We pre-populate his information, but he can edit it. We’re building and continuing to build out the fields, payments, payment types and all those things. So, again, continuous improvement and iteration to make it a better experience. But we have foundational information now through the mobile app, because people want to log in, they want that convenience.

So, they’re giving you the information and then they realize it’s a great tool because it saves them time with three touches, and you can book a room. And all of that information is coming back together. So, again, we know Sam Smith from Sam Smith. We can market the Sam Smith totally different than the Sam Smith. We can recognize and appreciate and make certain offers to the Sam Smith versus another.

And eventually, when he checks in we’ll be able to recognize him. We’re looking at maybe capturing faces, in our system, so that we can see Sam Smith. So, even at the front lines, at a property, when Sam Smith checks in, we recognize him and we have just snippets of information so that we can make that a more personal experience every time.

Some more information about feedback. So, I talked about how we had know your customer, communicate, connect. So that’s two way. Like, feedback is great, but post sale, post whatever, if they’re unhappy you want to know about it, but how do you address it and how do you adjust that feedback to prevent similar feedback from other customers or guests in the future? And then you have feedback from a stay, feedback on service, from the reservation center, feedback from folks using the mobile app. There’s all kinds of different things. So, again, how do you tie all that together for some semblance of don’t make yourself crazy because you’re always just chasing after information?

And so that kind of brought me to how do we pull all the different feedback and tag it? Still, make it relevant, but then you can prioritize on what you need to work out first, and still hear your guest. So G6 has 1,400, 1,500 properties, 10,000 employees. We have almost 600 now members of the new loyalty program, and we don’t even…we don’t do points, we don’t do giveaways. It’s basically the incentive and it was ion another…it was a panel, actually, that was talking about it. Do you have the mobile app? Do you have a loyalty program to drive current loyal customers and to keep them as a retention thing or is it to incentivize, bring in new customers and then bring them to become loyal customers? And for us, it’s both.

So, we have a mobile app. It’s convenient it’s, very utilitarian in nature, simple, which goes with our brand, but they appreciate that. Like a lot of the feedback that we get is, “This thing is so easy, three touches and I got a room.” And we get, you know, negative feedback as well that we act on, but we have people that monitor. My team monitors the apps or the online reviews. We have feedback that’s channeled through the app where they can rate us and then they give us their feedback and we know exactly that it came in app as feedback rather than somebody going from on the web, to the store, vice-versa. And we’re reaching out to them.

So we can email them, we can ask them, “Would you like me to call you?” And we pick up the phone, and we have conversations. And we quite often have found where somebody is complaining about functionality of the app, this is just our…maybe just our guest. Our USpace, it’s user error. Like they don’t know how to use something and I’m just monitoring time, sorry.

But funny story is one lady we got feedback and she was, “Your app, it doesn’t work. I’ve tried logging in, it keeps telling me to reset my password. It’s not working. This thing sucks.” So, I got on the phone, “So are you using the mobile app or are you using a browser?” Because My6, you can log in to your account through the browser on the web, too. So she says, “I don’t know,” “Okay, are you on a computer or on a phone?” So, she’s on a computer. “Great, do you know if your operating system is Windows or,” She goes, “Well, it’s by a window.” I’m not kidding. I’m not kidding. Not kidding. “Well, we have an 800 number for the reservation. Really, save yourself some time just…we’d be happy to talk to you anytime you need a room.”

But feedback matters. So and then there’s some quotes in here that I thought were, kind of, relevant. So it’s important to have the feedback loop where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better. And obviously, you’re gonna have product managers. Product owners have their own ideas. Executives have their own ideas, but at the end of the day, everybody is an individual, has different ideas at different times. And so how do you capture all of that and then align with it to make improvements is really, I guess, the challenge. So, that was a cheat because you weren’t supposed to say that.

So, we talked about the My6 mobile app, and so connecting with your customers. And it’s really the five questions. They’re really simple, is who are your customers? And if the closer you can get to first-hand knowledge, and we purposefully didn’t go out and do a lot of use case studies with our guest. That’s one of those intrusive things, but we have a 55 plus-year-old brand and so we know our guest pretty well. So, we were able to develop the personas and test that out and find that, hey, it’s always great when you’re right.

What we didn’t recognize was how to technically challenging some of them would be, which really spoke to the goal of simplification of the mobile app. But the loyalty program, again kind of that overlap. So people aren’t…we have an older guest segment who have been staying with us for 55 years, they don’t even have a smartphone. “What’s a smartphone? Do I have a stupid phone?” No lie.

So, you make things available because technology is awesome and for the most part, people who have stayed for 55 years aren’t going to be around for 55 more years to stay. So, you got to start capturing those new guests and appealing to them and making things easy for them without dropping, you know, the 55-year-old loyal guest. So, that was kind of that, “How do we pull all these together because that range of guests that we have is so disparate?” There is a huge gap. Huge, huge, huge.

And so the five questions. Who’s your customer? How do you connect with them? So is it in advance? Is it after? Is it both? If it’s both, is it separate teams? Are you pulling that back for, like, full visibility? And that full visibility is really where if you can land on it, it’s going to give you the biggest insight because presale is kind of pushing information and you’re getting, “Okay, well they like this product more than that product or this product is selling more than that product.” But now that they’ve purchased it, now you’re getting feedback on, “I don’t like the product,” but is it the same? Like, the ones who asked for it? Are they the ones who are telling you that they like it or hate it? So, it’s that key piece that, you know, you need to try to land on.

And then personalization. So, personalization enables the relationship, and that’s really what people are looking for. For the most part, we have some anonymous folks that like to stay anonymous and that’s okay, too. But when you’re talking to somebody wouldn’t you, I mean, somebody mentioned empathy on an earlier presentation and I think, I mean, that’s exactly right. People want to be recognized which is why they give feedback. They want to be listened to so it’s, you…we have the LAST. Has anyone had of LAST? Listen, apologize, solve, think. It’s really simple but that goes for somebody who’s calling, somebody leaving a review. Somebody who’s writing a letter.

It doesn’t matter, they want to be heard, so you need to recognize even if you don’t agree. “Hey, you really need to, I don’t know, make this thing sing a song when I’m checking in.” “Okay, well, great, great idea, we’ll have to think that one through.” It’s never gonna happen. I mean that doesn’t make sense to me, but more people were to bring that up, okay.

But you need, again, it’s capture the feedback, marry the information, attribute it to a person so that you can recognize that person, thank that person and keep that relationship going which really is required for loyalty, I mean, from my perspective because there’s a lot of hotel choices and there’s so many apps that people can use, and there’s so many, you know, multi channel ways to find a place to stay.

There’s Airbnb even now that’s a new kind of entrant to hospitality. So, know your product, know your guest, build that relationship. Listen to them not just when it’s convenient, but listen to them even when it’s not convenient and try to make those connections for that full visibility to drive a better experience for you and for your company, and for your guest, for your customer, is really the key thing.

So, simple questions to ask, but you got to keep asking them because things change, people change. And so build it, keep iterating, keep making it better and start all over again. So, that’s about it.

Woman: Awesome, thank you so much.

About Ashley Sefferman

Ashley Sefferman is Director of Marketing at Apptentive. A digital communication and content strategy enthusiast, she writes about multichannel engagement strategies, customer communication, and making the digital world a better place for people. Follow Ashley on Twitter at @ashseff.
View all posts by Ashley Sefferman >

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