Our latest product updates. An interview with Moritz Klussmann, Customer Alliance’s CEO

Product Updates

2016 is well under way and we are already in the middle of great new projects – though we didn’t miss our chance to look back on the year and recent improvements as we plan our next big steps. We want to share our successes, thoughts, and vision for our products development with you. With this in mind, we interviewed our CEO, Moritz Klussmann, and here are the insights he shared. Enjoy!

What are the latest updates for Review Analytics and Booked?

Within the first quarter of 2016, our biggest Review Analytics improvement was the new Widgets. Previously, the Widgets existed as a sticker customers applied to their websites, and, now they are an overlay visible to users throughout their navigation. From the technological side, it’s much more powerful as it’s written in JavaScript instead of being a static image, allowing the user to interact with it more. Meanwhile, from the conversion side – the hotel’s side – its enhanced visibility will increase the number of users clicking and reading reviews. Additionally, we incorporated a rollover effect where details show when the mouse moves over the Widget. Users not only see reviews and the Customer Satisfaction Index, but also independent review criteria.

In late 2015, we improved with a big update on statistics within Review Analytics. We added the cloud-tagging view for semantics, which provides customers alternative ways to analyze their data. We also expanded our front-end language capabilities to 19 languages to expand your reach to more guests – which will improve their review invitation return-rates. Also we extended our collaboration with new PMS for Review Analytics, among which we can find WinnerSoftware, Misterbooking, Ibelsa, 5*stelle, Oscar, NovaResa, vivo Resorts and Swoppen. This means that now, if a hotel is working with one of these previously mentioned PMS, an interface allows an automatic transfer of the guests’ data from the PMS into Review Analytics.

We also partnered with Trivago to improve hotels’ visibility within this relevant review portal. Now, whenever a guest submits a Customer Alliance review it also appears on Trivago and impacts hotels’ rating on this portal.

Launching our IBEBooked – in 2015 provided us lots of opportunities for growth; and we seized them. One of the features that makes Booked unique is its responsive front-end. While designing it, we aimed to make it as intuitive and comfortable as possible for users. This gives clients the chance to book a room from any device, be it a computer, a tablet or their smartphones. In the end, what counts is to increase the conversion rate.

In the same context, we were really excited about improving our upselling functionality. Customers now very easily upsell their rooms and services throughout the booking process to improve their conversion rates. The upselling is offered very subtly and comfortably within the booking process, so as not to not overwhelm, but seduce the website visitor into booking. All of this falls in line with our mantra: more reviews, more bookings, more revenue.

Another great step for Booked is our Channel Manager connection with Siteminder. The connection allows pricing and availability updates from Siteminder to also apply for Booked. The update occurs for all portals at the same time through very few clicks within Siteminder.

There are much more updates, but these are just a selection.

Why did you decide to do these updates?

We always listen to feedback from existing customers and potential clients – these voices are part of our main motivators to go for a certain feature; for Review Analytics, the main goal is definitely the visibility of our customers’ reviews. With this in mind, we noticed the success of the previous Widget depended heavily on website positioning. Sometimes customers oriented it near the footer, other times on a very hidden spot within the page, which had an impact on the Widget’s effectiveness. With the new Widgets, our main goal was conversion optimization – improved visibility of your online reviews converts website visitors into bookers, which, ultimately, increases revenue.

Regarding Booked, we have been working with it only one year, since 2015, so we are constantly receiving and applying valuable customer feedback to steer Booked’s development. We focus on our hoteliers’ needs, which generally concerns improving efficiency on internal hotel-processes.

We prioritize removing stress and time constraints often associated with review, booking, and revenue management. Every product update and feature add-on comes with this mind: more reviews, means more potential customers click your business, and this leads to more bookings.

You mentioned the importance of customers feedback for your product development – how do you use feedback from your customers in order to develop these updates?

Whenever I am in touch with customers myself this is the first question I ask. Sure, I am always happy to talk to customers; hearing from individual customers first-hand is really interesting. Day-to-day our Customer Care team talks with our customers and they report any customer requests to Product Development. Feedback arrives not only from existing customers, but also from potential customers. As our Sales team talks with potential clients, they communicate to Product Development the features that would drive new customers to commit to our solutions.

Our development extends beyond our team, customers, competitors, and the hospitality industry. We often look to others within the tech industry to investigate on a broad level new ideas to enhance our user’s experience. That’s what ensures we provide the best solution for our customers – the most important thing for us.

How do you let your clients know there is a new update in your product?

Currently, our blog delivers product news and updates, and we look forward to expanding our reader-base. We publish blog posts for each update, including what specifically changed, the benefits, and how to apply the update. Additionally, we send out a monthly newsletter which features all of our updates, as well as, recent whitepapers and articles. For the biggest updates, we publish press releases.

What is the process for the Product Development team in order to launch an update and how often do you update your products?

Our Product Development team has one Product Development Manager (Leonie). She collects, reads, evaluates, and prioritizes all new ideas reported by our customers and the team. Additionally we keep our eyes on trending topics and technological opportunities within the industry. Once a quarter, we get together with the team leaders of every department – the country managers (representing customer care and sales), the founders, a Communications & UX representative, and our Product Development Manager – so that everyone voices their priorities. Improvements range from visible things, such as new features or tweaks to old features, to invisible things, such as performance, content, or usability updates – anything that makes our solutions better than yesterday.

From there, we make a feasible list and add it to our product pipeline. In general we work with priorities and don’t commit to deadlines, because we are convinced of staying agile in order to adjust to changes and prepare for the unexpected.

From the quarterly meeting, we divide the projects, write briefings, and specify technically. We follow this with the design sprint, where we create user flows, user stories, and user interface prototypes for the whole user experience. After that, we split everything into tasks for our development sprint. Sprint is term from the Agile “Scrum” methodology which we follow, it is a defined interval of development focusing on manageable projects which allow developers to focus on coding. Once the code is there, we test everything for an ideal user-experience visually and functionally and prepare our communication efforts for the launch.

Of course, we measure the results of this communication and the impact of the update. We check Analytics and Customer Care reports for how customers received the update and use this information to improve our process for the next sprint. Our sprint duration is two weeks, so every two weeks we have new things, new improvements for the users.

What can the Hospitality Industry expect from CA in the near future?

Our goal is to give hoteliers full control over their reputation and bookings. Review Analytics and Booked, as well as Price Analytics, have impacted the industry in a great way. So now we are working on Control Panel, from which hoteliers can centrally login. From one place they see and manage their reputation and bookings.

Product Updates

Just a few upcoming improvements on our products:

  • Control Panel – Single login: an all-in-all solution where users manage their reviews and bookings from one account
  • Review Analytics’ redesign & responsive interface, means making the back-end for hotelier fully usable on all devices
  • Re-invitation function for Review Analytics so customers can remind their guests of pending review invitations
  • Booked Widget update following the Review Analytics model, this Widget will be an overlay visible throughout the navigation experience

Do you have an idea? Submit a product update request by adding a comment




About the author
Marta

Marta Adelantado Calvo

Intern Communications and Marketing


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