Imagine going on a cruise and having the ship know your every desire – sometimes even before you do.
That’s the goal of Carnival Corporation’s new Ocean Medallion technology, a wearable device that will debut on the Regal Princess cruise ship later this year. It follows on the heels of Disney’s MagicBand and a similar device on Royal Caribbean cruises, but it goes even farther in predicting and responding to customer needs and desires.
Each passenger will receive a personalized token that can be worn around your neck, on your wrist or carried in your pocket. The token interacts with 7000 sensors throughout the ship to track where you are, and what you’re doing. And it uses that information to predict what you’d like to do next. The sensors interact with 4000 high res screens throughout the ship to provide personalized recommendations.
So, for example, if you took a Zumba class yesterday, you might like yoga today. If you ordered a mid-afternoon cocktail, perhaps you’d like another. The sensors go beyond making recommendations and use technology to ensure that passengers are always comfortable, even turning on lights and adjusting room temperature as guests walk toward their rooms.
It can sound a little creepy and Big Brother-ish, but this proactive approach is very important when it comes to building a great customer experience. And that’s especially true in a highly competitive industry like tourism.
Unlike big data, which merely records statistics on customer behavior, the Ocean Medallion records behavior for specific customers and then uses it to predict future behavior for that specific passenger. This might include recommending activities, or it might mean leaving a passenger alone if that’s what he or she prefers.
I discuss the importance of this in my recent book, The Intuitive Customer: 7 imperatives for moving your Customer Experience to the next level, which I co-authored with Prof. Ryan Hamilton of Emory University. As I explain in the book, many businesses focus on the rational aspects of the customer experience – price, for example, or room size or whether the menu includes both steak and seafood. But customers are not rational! They mostly make irrational decisions based on emotions and past experiences.
The key to a successful customer experience is to embrace customers’ irrational nature and commit to understanding customer’s habits and behaviors. Customers make a lot of decisions based on intuition and habit because it’s easy. Processing rational information like price and quality is harder, and so – especially when they’re feeling stressed or lazy — customers buy based on intuition and then come up with a rational justification later.
Cruise ships are perfect for designing an intuitive experience because people truly want to feel that everything is taken care of for them. When you ask a passenger who’s leaving the gym if he’d like to have a massage now, he’ll instinctively say yes. Now he doesn’t have to decide what to do next, or think about price, or figure out who to call. In fact, he doesn’t have to do anything at all except show up and enjoy!
Like all data, though, wearable technology has its limitations. While technology can tell us what customers are doing, it isn’t very good at telling us why. That means that technology can respond to habits and behaviors, but not to the emotions that underlie them. Data would suggest that the sunbather who drank six margaritas yesterday wants to do the same today. It can’t see that today she’s hung over and filled with remorse, so another drink is the last thing she wants!
The way to compensate for this is to map the customer experience from an emotional standpoint, monitor customer emotions and behavior and then use this information to improve insight into passengers’ thought processes. Carnival seems to be on the right track. It will be interesting to see what its passengers think.
What about you? Would you like to take a cruise on a ship that knows what you want? Share your thoughts below.
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Colin Shaw is the Founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s leading Customer experience consultancy & training organizations. Colin is an international author of five bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.
Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter @ColinShaw_CX