Customer Relationships: Top Tips For Better Customer Relationships

Customer relationships are one of a hotel’s most valuable assets. Building, nurturing, protecting and retaining them should be at the heart of every hotelier’s strategy for growth. Guests are increasingly sophisticated and therefore demanding, and therefore creating long lasting and successful customer relationships and outstanding guest experiences are the most important challenges facing hotels today.

We’ve asked customer experience experts, Sidona Group, for their top tips to keep you ahead of the competition.

Anne Blackburn, the company’s customer experience director, reveals all:

  1. Understand Your Guest’s Expectations
    At every stage, from reservation onwards make sure you identify what your guests expect and want during their stay. Each customer is unique – make sure you remember this and treat each guest as an individual. Their needs will be driven by blend factors including, age, are they new guests or first time visitors, is the visit for business or leisure, how much they have paid, are they alone or with family, and so on. Ask guests when they arrive what you can do to make their stay special.
  2. Do your best to make an emotional connection with every customer
    Most organisations mainly focus on the physical element of what they do; few concentrate on meeting the emotional needs of their customers. Yet emotions account for over 50% of the customer experience.
    When staff do not have the knowledge to answer questions, guests can be left feeling frustrated. If a room is not available at check-in, guests are left feeling unwelcome. When a diner waits a long time to get served, they feel neglected. All of these seemingly small things build up to create a negative emotional response towards the hotel.
    Staff should be doing all they can to create positive emotional responses from guests. Ensure customers are left feeling happy, pleased and valued and that they can trust you. These four emotions have been identified as the emotions customers need to feel if they are to become customer advocates.
  3. Invite and act upon feedback
    Make asking for guest feedback part of your daily hotel protocols – guests will have vital information for you to learn from. Ask them how you are performing – not only during their stay and upon departure, but also after they have returned home. Encourage staff to view feedback as a gift rather than perceive it as a complaint. Also, ensure this knowledge is shared across all departments so that everyone understands the impact of their actions and the important part they have in delivering the guest experience. Remember to thank guests when they offer opinions or suggestions and be seen to act upon their comments immediately.
    Recognise, share and celebrate positive feedback with staff and always learn from negative feedback.
  4. Empower staff
    Ensure staff are skilled and allowed to solve customers’ problems straight away without having to “ask the manager”. Make sure they are able to explain things in a simple manner using positive service language and most importantly do exactly what they say they will. Having a responsive and honest approach to communication will create a bond of trust with the customer. Encourage and empower your staff to be spontaneous (within boundaries) and to enhance the customer relationship where they see an opportunity to do so.
    It’s therefore important to give your staff the right tools. Create processes that add value to the guest experience, but remember not to make them too complex – guests don’t want extra hassle. Empower your staff to remove any barriers that get in the way of delivering great guest experiences.
    Train your staff to demonstrate service behaviours, the skills of developing rapport, empathy and managing guest expectations and emotions, you will reap the rewards on your bottom line immediately. Your guests spend a lot of time interacting with your staff, they really are your key asset. Make sure they understand and can deliver what your customers value most.
    Companies like my own work with individual properties to tailor make training programmes which will give staff the skills to deliver outstanding guest experiences through excellent customer relationships.
  5. Be Memorable
    Find ways in which you can leave a lasting impression, connecting at a deeper level with your customers to create powerful memories. Personal touches demonstrate your commitment to your guests’ experiences. If you have identified your guests needs before their arrival this enables you to personalise your communication making the guest feel highly valued. Remember, your staff are the memory makers – ask them for ideas on how they can be different and what they can do to make a guest’s stay stand out more.
About Sidona Group: Sidona Group is an organisation specialising in customer experiences. They offer “Quick wins from your Guest Experience” – a tailored research and training package to meet the needs of your customers, staff and business. Contact Anne Blackburn for more details on 01395 519855 or on anne@sidonagroup.com
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