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Rub It In, Why Don’t You? When Orchestration Goes Awry

I booked a trip. I canceled a trip (Yes, because of COVID-19.) But they kept reminding me of my next destination. Lucky they were otherwise so helpful; I had to forgive them

Customers are fickle. They constantly change their preference, habits, and behaviors. It’s nothing new. But recently, this rapid change has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 outbreak and the unpredictable economic landscape and overall uncertainty it has brought. That’s why, today, Orchestration (yes, with capital O) is one of the most important concepts for marketers to master.

Campaign Orchestration is the process of ensuring all cross-channel, multi-step communications with customers are in sync, providing customers a holistic experience.

Orchestration starts with data alignment (making sure data is tracked and used in the same way on multiple channels) and ends with the execution of campaigns that consider the customer’s attributes, actions, and status.

Successful orchestration ensures holistic communication that leads to greater customer satisfaction, higher revenue, less friction, and increased retention rates. Given the current economic climate, this is a secret weapon that should be used frequently.

The Implications of Bad Orchestration

I recently went through a great example of how immediate changes (driven by COVID-19) can impact campaign orchestration, and why orchestration matters more today than ever before.

For the past 8 months, my partner and I have been planning a trip to Thailand. We booked everything in advance and ordered all our hotel nights via Booking.com.

When COVID-19 hit, it was clear that we could pretty much forget about our dreamy vacation.
Quickly, our flights got canceled. So, we reached out to Booking.com, requesting that they assist us in canceling our hotel reservations. Our experience with Booking.com was extremely positive when it came to customer support. They helped us cancel nonrefundable deals and even Booking.Basic (3rd party, no guarantee) reservations without a hassle.

What came later was a bit of a bummer, especially for a Marketer like me.

Constant Reminders of My Canceled Vacation

Not long after canceling all my trip plans, I got a notification from Booking.com – “your trip is coming up.” It was still close to my cancellation date, so while it felt a bit off, I let it slide.

A couple of weeks later, April 1st arrived. That was the date we were supposed to fly out. While we tried our best to completely ignore the fact that we are working from home in the midst of a worldwide virus outbreak instead of sipping cocktails on a Thai beach, we received a series of offers, announcements, and reminders, from Booking.com both via email and push notifications.

On what was supposed to be our fifth day of the trip, we received the following notification:

This is a case of poor orchestration that did not adapt to the recent changes in customer behavior nor to the fact I canceled my reservations with them.

In normal circumstances, I might have said hats-off to Booking for recognizing that I need a taxi on that specific day. After all, I was supposed to transfer to my next hotel on the list on that day and a taxi would be great! But being responsive is not enough. Booking’s orchestration did not consider trip’s status and customer care data, and since most trips had been canceled in the past month, this completely derailed their overall communication.

I can imagine, this has happened to a lot of Booking.com clients, and while they must have a lot on their mind, the automated, robotic nature of these notifications have reduced our appreciation of their superb customer care.

Reactivity is Important. Proactivity is Key

The difference between being reactive and proactive, in this sense, lies in the perspective each one provides. The first is designed to respond to specific events or issues, and the latter is designed to anticipate possible challenges.

You can react to customer behavior – for example, offer a taxi deal to a customer that ordered a trip, on the date of that trip. But you should always try to be proactive – take advantage of any additional data you have, and make sure you have aligned all the customer’s touchpoints with your product at any given time.

If the customer booked a hotel, and due to any circumstances needed to cancel it, you, as a marketer or a CRM manager, should take that into account and proactively change the messaging.

You can send new, relevant offers once their hotel was successfully cancelled and refunded. You can also create a specific message for customers who have had to change their plans, increasing campaign personalization even further. Or, in other words – don’t just automate, orchestrate.

Avoiding bad orchestration is always essential, but it becomes vital when there’s an immediate, unpredictable change in customer and market behavior.

You can also mitigate these negative experiences by learning from booking.com and providing excellent customer care. If your service is fantastic, your customers are more likely to forgive these mishaps, even in times of crisis.

Stay tuned for future analysis, and in the meantime, check out our vast Marketing Amid Corona coverage:

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