Bed-and-breakfast operators and small-restaurant owners may long for the cash flow of large hotel and restaurant
chains, but their counterparts in these corporations envy the close relationships small proprietors have with their
customers. Hotels, airlines, restaurants, and entertainment promoters continually show their willingness to invest
heavily in initiatives that bring them closer to their customers. That is why our wallets are filled with customer
cards from retailers, airlines, and hotels, and our mailboxes are filled with catalogs, coupons, and other "special
offers for valued customers." Data mining and other information systems have helped make marketers very
effective at targeting and reaching their customers. Too often, however, the wealth of information about
customers is not available at the point of service, causing businesses to miss incremental revenue opportunities
and leaving the potential of customer management systems unfulfilled.
Cards and mobile computers give operators a means of collecting and processing information in an exciting
range of new environments. Mobile printing technology enables users to convert the information into new
product and service offerings. Mobile printing systems close the loop by providing a method to output
information that is gathered and processed, maximizing the benefits and flexibility of new customer service
applications. In many such applications, the output is the compelling part of the solution as it acts as necessary
user documentation for the transaction.
Innovative companies are connecting information to opportunity by extending their information systems to the
point of service with customer ID cards, portable computers, print systems, and wireless communication. By
providing these information tools to service staff, companies are enjoying improved labor efficiency, greater
customer satisfaction, and increased revenues. Automation at the point of service also helps companies capture
valuable real-time information that makes customer relationship management (CRM), service management, and
database applications more effective.
New applications include remote check-in and other line-busting services; payment processing at tableside, pool,
lounge, or lobby areas; instant issuance of coupons, tickets, and gift certificates; mobile gaming; and portable
and temporary retailing.
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