News for the Hospitality Executive
October 1, 2012
People don’t like to feel like they are a transaction. That is exactly how I felt when I recently rented a car. The rental car agent was fast and efficient. He spat out a series of standard car rental questions with laser-like proficiency. In fact, the entire transaction took less than three minutes. Speed = A+. Engagement = F. I remember walking away from the transaction saying “Wow, a robot could do that employee’s job”. It is important to note that people still like to feel like their patronage is valued. In that car rental example, I did not feel valued; actually, it was quite obvious that the attendant cared very little about making me feel valued. In his mind, it was “on to the next one”. To develop a strong service culture, we can never lose respect for the big “R”: RELATIONSHIP. People (especially customers) thrive off of relationships. Customers can easily tell if you are revenue-driven vs. relationship-driven. Even if the service transaction is a very quick one, it is still possible to establish a relationship which can lead to higher customer engagement, loyalty, referrals and repeat business.
Pay Attention to What Your Customers Care About
It is amazing to see how many organizations implement all sorts of initiatives, without checking to see if those initiatives are actually important to their customers. For example, I have heard stories of hotels ironing newspapers! Those organizations that get it right, however, make a habit of regularly soliciting insight from their customers about what can further strengthen their relationship.
I was in Wegman’s Supermarket recently and noticed the employees, who retrieve shopping carts from the parking lot, using a sanitary wipe to clean the carts’ handle bars. I would imagine that there are many customers who care about that. I was walking around Washington DC’s National Zoo recently during the summer, and there were water-misting stations strategically located throughout the zoo for patrons to get a quick cool-off. Customers care about that. I recently stayed at the Eventi hotel in New York City, and in my guest room closet there were not only the standard hotel slippers, but also socks. Socks! Some guests, like me, prefer socks than slippers because my feet tend to get cold.
It is critical to not fall into the habit of assuming that you currently know and will always know what your customers want. It doesn’t matter how many years you’ve been in your profession, or how many academic credentials you have. Your organization will only attain and maintain its competitive edge if it can accurately meet and exceed its customers’ expectation better than its competitors.
“I want you to know me, care about me, and make me feel like an insider”. That is the mantra of your loyal customers (and your potentially loyal customers). One of the biggest mistakes companies make is to reserve their loyal customer treatment for only current loyal customers. It’s as if only those customers who have proven that they will return again, will be rewarded with VIP treatment. Here’s a newsflash: If you want new customers to become loyal customers, then you have to treat them like loyal customers! I can certainly understand how some perks may only be available to long-term customers (or frequent buyers), but I’m referring to the sense of urgency and caring that are given.
On a recent trip, the airline gate attendant was getting ready to initiate the boarding process. She said something along the lines of, “Welcome to flight xxx. We are now ready to begin boarding. As always, we will board according to zones, and we value our elite customers.” In case you missed it, here is the last part again, “We Value Our ELITE Customers”. Now, I happen to be a so-called ELITE customer with this particular airline due to my frequent-flier status, but my first thought was…”don’t you value everyone else??” Again, the idea is to create more loyal customers by treating every customer like a loyal customer (or at least make them feel like you want them to be a loyal customer).
Feeling included also means that you accept your customers for who they are, and not minimize your service to them due to such things as their age, race, or (perceived) socio-economic status. Accepting your customers also means that you do and say things that will lift them up, and not bring them down. A friend of mine recently visited a spa to get a massage. When she visited the spa, however, she happened to be in the midst of an acne breakout. When the massage therapist came to the massage room, she told my friend, “Oh my goodness! You have lots of acne!”. #1) My friend already knew she had acne. #2) She felt embarrassed and self-conscious. Note: Customers should feel better as a result of interacting with you…not worse.
Be Appreciative and Grateful
What happens right after you provide a service or product to your customer? What about the day, week, or month after? You would be astonished to see how few companies have any type of standard regarding thanking their customers. Your customers just made a conscious decision to give you their business vs. giving it to another company. They should feel re-assured that their decision was the right one. In addition to verbally (and genuinely) thanking them for their business, consider doing the following within the first week after the service:
Your customers should eagerly rave about how wonderful your business is and how much they look forward to returning. This will only happen, however, if they feel like they are in a relationship with your business. I recently visited a friend’s house, and overheard him say to someone, “Yeah, we’ve been together since 1993.” I would have bet any amount of money that he was referring to a girlfriend. Not so, he was actually speaking about the consumer electronics company, Crutchfield. Wow. He absolutely loves Crutchfield. I have no doubt that if Crutchfield was a woman, he would propose immediately.
I firmly believe that customers would prefer to be loyal, rather than bouncing around from business to business. I even know people who begrudgingly tolerate mediocre service because they don’t have the patience to look elsewhere. As a business seeking ways to cultivate a loyal customer base, you should make your customers feel celebrated…rather than tolerated. Pay attention to what your customers care about, be inclusive, and be appreciative. If you make a habit of practicing those three tips, your relationships will thrive and the revenue will follow.
About Bryan K. Williams
Dr. Bryan K. Williams is the Chief Service Officer of B.Williams Enterprise, and the author of Engaging Service: 22 Ways to Become a Service Superstar and Work Like You Own It! 20 Ways to Go From Meeting to Exceeding Your Customers’ Expectations. Bryan’s passion is world-class customer service, and has facilitated workshops and delivered keynotes all over the world for various companies. He speaks on a variety of topics related to service excellence, employee engagement, and organizational improvement. As a consultant, Bryan works closely with companies to design, develop, and implement sustainable service strategies. His company’s online store includes a growing collection of customer service products that are well-suited for your training library.
B. Williams Enterprise, LLC
Training Seminars with Dr. Bryan K. Williams! Two Keys to Empower &
Inspire Your Team to Provide World-Class Service and Two Key
Ingredients of Engaging Service / August 2012
LOVE Business / Bryan K. Williams / June 2012
Next Level in Service Excellence: Give. Share. Teach. / Bryan K.
Williams / April 2012
Excellence 101: Earn Your Customers' Confidence and Reap the Rewards
/ Bryan K. Williams / March 2012
Service WOW Stories to Inspire Your Team! / Bryan K. Williams /
Me: Help Me to Become More Than I Realize I Can Be / Bryan K.
Williams / February 2012
Teleseminar with Dr. Bryan K. Williams! 10 Things To Improve Service In
Your Business / January 2012
and Re-Earn Your Customers' Loyalty / Bryan K. Williams, D.M. /
Your Customers / Bryan K. Williams, D.M. / October 2011
Like You Own It! 20 Ways to Go From Meeting to Exceeding Your
Customers' Expectations: New Book by Dr. Bryan K. Williams /
Excellence 101: Be Welcoming / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM /
Three Ingredients of Engaging Service: Humility, Reverence &
Professionalism / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM / August 2011
Excellence: The MOST Important Thing To Create a Service Culture! /
Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM / July 2011
Excellence 101: How to Serve a VIP / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM /
1st Step of Service: Be Eager to Serve / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM
/ May 2011
Service: The Double-Platinum Rule 2.0 / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM /
Problem Resolution: The 100% Principle / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM
/ March 2011
Service 102: Be memorable / Dr. Bryan K. Williams, DM / February
your service to the next level: Only BIG WOW’s…No bow-wow’s / Dr.
Bryan K. Williams, DM / February 2011
Excellence: Inspect What You Expect / Bryan K. Williams, D.M. /
Like You Own It 2.0; Energize it. Recognize it. Celebrate it. /
Bryan K. Williams, D.M. / September 2010
|World-Class Service 101: Know the difference between meeting and exceeding expectations / Dr. Bryan K. Williams / July 2010|
|Service Superstars Part 2: Treat them like they own it! / Dr. Bryan K. Williams / June 2010|
each touchpoint memorable: Cha-Ching! / Dr. Bryan K. Williams /
Superstars: Work like you own it! / Bryan Williams / February 2010
resources from Bryan K. Williams and B.Williams Enterprise! Begin 2010
with a focus on world-class service. / January 2010
Ambassadors: The Key to Providing World-Class Service / Bryan K.
Williams / November 2009
Employees - Part 3 / Bryan K. Williams / September 2009
Employees - Part 2 / Bryan K. Williams / August 2009
Employees - Part 1/ Bryan K. Williams / July 2009
|Engaging Service: 22 Ways to Become a Service Superstar / Bryan K. Williams / July 2009|
|Complimentary tele-seminars with Bryan K. Williams in July! / July 2009|
|Building a Team of Living It Employees / Bryan K. Williams / June 2009|
|World-Class Service: What if every employee served like a concierge? / Byran K Williams / March 2009|
|5 Star Leadership: What Does It Take to Be a 5-star Leader? / Byran Williams / February 2009|
|5 Stars vs. 4 Stars: What’s the Difference? / Byran Williams / January 2009|
|Complimentary training with Bryan Williams / January 2009|
|The 7 Principles of EngageMeTM is now available! / Bryan K. Williams / November 2008|
|Hiring and Engaging a World-Class Team / Bryan K. Williams / October 2008|
|Great Ideas for National Customer Service Week 2008 / Bryan K. Williams / September 2008|
|Delivering World-Class Service Part 3: Company Service Standards / Bryan K. Williams / September 2008|
|Delivering World-Class Service Pt. 2: Personal Service Standards / Bryan K. Williams / September 2008|
|Delivering World-Class Service: Function vs. Purpose / Bryan K. Williams / August 2008|
|Guest Problem Resolution 101: Power of the Follow-Up / Bryan K. Williams / June 2008|
|7 Principles to Fully Engage Your Customers – Part 2 / Bryan K. Williams / May 2008|
|7 Principles to Fully Engage Your Customers / Bryan K. Williams / April 2008|
|I Am a Service Professional™ / Bryan K. Williams / March 2008|
|Engage Every Customer…One Touchpoint at a Time / Bryan K. Williams / January 2008|
|Engaging Service Part 2: It’s All About the Culture / Bryan K. Williams / December 2007|
|Engaging Service Part 1: Not Just for the Chic / Bryan K. Williams / November 2007|
|Service Excellence: A Destination or a Journey? / Bryan K. Williams / October 2007|
|National Customer Service Week is Coming Soon - October 1-5, 2007 / September 2007|
|National Customer Service Week is Coming Soon - October 1-5, 2007 / September 2007|
|Engage Me…the Voice of Your Customer www.engagemenow.com / September 2007|
|Customer Engagement: Where do we begin? / Byran K Williams / August 2007|
|Engage Me…the Voice of Your Customer / www.engagemenow.com / August 2007|
|B. Williams Enterprise, LLC Launches Engage Me… the Voice of Your Customer / August 2007|
|To Engage…Listen to the Voice of Your Customer / Byran K Williams / August 2007|
|To Engage the Guest, You Must Engage Those Who Directly Serve the Guest / Byran K Williams / July 2007|
|Three Service Rules: The Golden Rule, Platinum Rule, and Double Platinum Rule/ Byran K Williams / June 2007|
|The Greatest Bellman I Ever Met… / Bryan K. Williams / April 2006|
|Sorry to Say…But Some People Should Not be Serving Other Human Beings / Bryan K Williams / October 2006|