In today’s economy, where costs are undergoing a constant analysis and profit margins are becoming smaller by the day, listening to customers and encouraging feedback should be deemed an important part of the business agenda. It is true that a large proportion of businesses are now connecting with their customers to get feedback, however this is very often where the practice ends. Many businesses go through the lengthy process of gathering customer feedback only to leave the data unused.
Research has shown:
"A 2% boost in customer retention has the same effect on profits as cutting costs by a massive 10%"
If Customer insight is to be used successfully, it should lead to positive actions from the business. Businesses should be focusing on the opinions made by customers and implementing actions to improve their business processes and therefore the customer experience. Yes, it is a given fact that the quality of the customer experience is one of the biggest contributes of business success or failure – and in the hospitality trade, it holds even more importance. But what factors really affect and influence the overall customer experience?
The customer experience should be deemedto start way before the clientstays at the hotel or guesthouse… andthat itfinisheslong after they have departed! Customer anticipationsare usually set when visiting and browsing through the hotel’s website or other online information. A website can be viewed by anyone in the world at any given time and it is true that first impressions do count immensely. Therefore hoteliers need to be aware of the importance of their online presence and make sure it matches up with the impression that they want to give to their customers. A potential guest can very quickly be put off by insufficient information, poor images and site that is extremely hard to use.
It should also be noted that the most successful establishments identify that the customer experience doesn’t conclude with their departure. Post-stay follow-up is one of the most successful methods to convert a positive experience into repeat visits and recommendations. This post follow up could be in the form of a personal written or spoken telephone thank you or maybe an update on the result of feedback given. Make sure that the permission of the guest has been granted and then also follow up with email news of offers and new services.
The customer experience ultimately can be described as every encounter that a customer has with a hotel or guesthouse, over the lifetime of their relationship with that hotel. Successful hoteliers are the ones who provide a consistently great experience whenever a guest comes into contact with the hotel – whether that is on the telephone, through the website or when they actually stop by to dine, drink, sleep or all three. Every imaginable exchange with a guest is an opportunity to check they are making the most of their stay as well as a chance to improve it. Maybe start by saying “hello” in reception and checking they are enjoying their stay. Include conversing about the aspects of their stay that are ‘not’ to do with your accommodation - maybe asking if they have visited local attractions or recommend a restaurant or cuisine?
It should be seen that every single interaction between the various members of staff and the guest is an opportunity to build a positive relationship therefore encourage customer loyalty including potential recommendations of your hotel to friends and family.