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  • Writer's pictureAdele Gutman Milne, CHBA, CHDM

Winning Digital Customers With Author Howard Tiersky

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus was known to say, “change is the only constant in life.” Organizations that embrace change as the natural state of being will have the best chance to successfully stay ahead of the curve as the needs and desires of our customers continue to shift. Yet, while people as children are instinctively open to learning and creativity, many organizations are naturally resistant to change and set up cultures that can discourage creative problem-solving, innovation, and transformation.

In this episode, Howard Tiersky and Adele Gutman discuss four common misconceptions about digital transformation that have the potential to derail even the most well-funded efforts.

Howard Tiersky is a Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Winning Digital Customers. IDG named him one of the “10 Digital Transformation Influencers to Follow Today”, and Enterprise Management 360 named Howard “One of the Top 10 Digital Transformation Influencers That Will Change Your World.”

Here are the four common misconceptions discussed:

MYTH: Digital transformation is about technology.

Truth: It’s about your customers, and also your employees.

Beginning with the focus on technology is like the tail wagging the dog.

Instead, find the pain points in the guest journey and where there’s an opportunity to elevate the experience. Then, use technology to contribute to the solution.

Beginning with the focus on technology is like the tail wagging the dog.

MYTH: You with finish your transformation.

TRUTH: Transformation is a Sisyphean endeavor.

Your customers’ needs are always evolving, and therefore, your services and products must always evolve too.

Guest reviews and surveys are the perfect places to start to find out what is making guests really happy or highly irritated.

But don’t forget the middle ground. There’s a world of opportunity for improvement in the small letdowns that might not show up in reviews. However, we are lucky to have an army of staff members who, if they are constantly reminded and invited to share such observations, will happily do so. Keep asking your team, how can we support your success in making guests happy? Whenever you see a guest’s face drop just a bit, even though you fixed things for them, tell the team so that we may find ways to avoid that disappointment ahead of time, so you don’t have to have to take your time to repeatedly fix anything.

Communication tools like Nudge empower sharing of information not only from top-down but from line staff to decision-makers. See the episode when I talk to the COO of Nudge, in the link at the bottom of the page.

MYTH: It’s about digital touchpoints

TRUTH: It’s still about the Guest Experience. Yes, before and after their stay, but also during.

People don’t believe on face value what a company says about itself. Reviews provide social proof that the experience lives up to the hype.

It’s the little moments that make a big difference and that will inspire someone to take the time to write a rave review. When you consistently have thousands or even hundreds of five-star reviews that corroborate each other, you will win digital customers.

There can be many tech components to that great in-house experience.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Anything that makes the website and booking engine faster and easier to navigate but also inspires the emotions and spirit you want your ideal guest to be raving about when they leave.

  • Anything that fully communicates the true experience your guest will actually have available to them at the hotel. Don’t sell a dream you can’t deliver; you’ll attract guests you cannot please. They will take it out on your staff during their stay and they will drive new prospects away with their negative reviews. Online honesty will help you attract your tribe who will be loyal and happily recommend other travelers.

  • The guest messaging system was lovingly set up to graciously respond to the guest's questions with thoughtful additions of information that enhance the VIP guest experience, but with an easy way to ask for human interaction instead.

  • Or guest messaging powered by people but those people were trained not only to give the answer but to answer with warmth and respect. Anticipate needs surrounding that question with care so that the guest feels like a VIP, and time-consuming back and forth answers are not needed.

  • Reservations responses with personality and personalization built but can quickly insert links to anticipated extras needed such as multiple room images, room layouts that fit needs and availability, and relevant experiences for couples, family, business needs etc, to tailor it to the customer more quickly than a human.

MYTH: You are already doing a Digital Transformation.

TRUTH: Not all improvement is true transformation.

Adele and Howard are both huge fans of incremental change. Applying steady gentle pressure to keep moving everything forward in big and small ways every day can make a huge impact. They say if you improve 1% everyday, you’ll be 37X better by the end of the year!

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t also DREAM BIG! Be mindful of your big picture vision and goals. How can your organization embrace change to truly transform into the company you dream of becoming?

Do both!

If a major project will take time but will help get you where you are going, build that road map to the future.

But if in the process, you ignore the little things that are irritating your guests and your team, you may lose the chance to create loyal fans and avid brand ambassadors.

Thank you all for listening!


LinkedIn: Howard Tiersky

Book Links:

Here’s another really fun book I enjoyed and I highly recommend it:

Leading Change by John P. Kotter

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Thank you so much for listening!



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