It doesn’t matter how much you spend on your marketing strategy, how great your SEO, how complimentary your online reviews or how many thousands of pounds you spend on your refurbishment. At the end of the day if your customers get anything less than great service you won’t retain them and you’re back to square one.
The customer experience that you create is your single most valuable competitive advantage.
So who is responsible for ensuring your customers get a fantastic experience? We all know it’s everyone, not just front of house, but does every position get the same focus when it comes to the impact they have on customer care.
Here’s my 10 point plan to get your team fully contributing to your marketing efforts
Define your values. What is important to you and what is important to your ideal customers (and ensure these two are in alignment or you’ll have a tough time being authentic). Then put systems and resources in place to enable everyone to live by these values.
I know it’s a bit of a cliché to say recruit on attitude, but I do believe it’s key. Only recruit people who can live by your values; if what’s important to you isn’t important to your team members you will be fighting a losing battle to get them to live up to them.
Your team need to understand your values and what these mean in practical terms – not just a list of words. Discuss your expectations; what will your team be doing as a matter of course to achieve these; what are your non-negotiables. And then ensure there are no mixed messages; you set the example.
Train your team in the systems and framework, but leave them the freedom to work within this to show their own personality. This will not only mean they will appear more natural with your customers (we can all spot the scripted lines a mile off), but helps to build their confidence and encourages them to make decisions. If they know the result you are aiming for it allows scope for creativity too.
Give regular feedback and recognition when someone has shown excellent or even good examples customer service, to encourage more of the same. Encourage your team to evaluate their own performance too, so they get into the habit of learning from their experiences – successes and mistakes – and ensure your management team give the appropriate support when needed.
Involve all your team in all stages of the customer journey and to look for areas to improve. It will be easier for people from a different department to look at things from a customers’ perspective, so for example if you are a hotel, enable the kitchen team to see bedrooms and for reception to experience the restaurant (at breakfast as well as lunch and dinner) for the conferencing team the spa, housekeeping to review the website or test how easy it is to make a booking – either on or offline.
Identify and capitalise on your teams’ strengths. Look for talent or skills in particular activities where individuals might have an opportunity to really shine. This builds pride in the job and a sense of responsibility. This might be something you don’t do already but that offers an opportunity to do something different or special for your customers, giving you a USP, and the team member something that helps keep them motivated.
Give your team the authority they need to make decisions based on their role and individual strengths. Nothing frustrates a customer more than being told by a member of staff that they don’t have the authority to make a decision or approve a simple request. Even more so when the only person who can make the decision is nowhere to be found.
Give your team incentives to go the extra mile with your customers and build loyalty. I’m not talk there about monetary rewards that are forgotten five minutes after they’ve been given, but things that show you really appreciate the efforts people have gone to. Sometimes a simple handwritten note from the manager or owner can make someone feel valued. Time off might be the most valuable reward you can give someone as a thank you. Or do something that’s a win win such as a visit to a sister (or competitor) site and share their observations with the rest of their team when they return. Find out what’s of value to them; not everyone will be motivated by the same incentives.
Keep your team informed of anything that might impact your customers in any way. What’s happening where – both within the business and locally. Knowing what’s on in your town, or traffic conditions that might affect your customer’s onward journey can make all the difference to an OK experience, and one that becomes memorable. Ask your team for their feedback too – capture customers’ feedback, any customers’ preferences to keep for future visits, suggestions on how service can be improved. Your team are much closer to your customers than you are and will see opportunities to enhance the customer experience so ask for their ideas and be prepared to act on the.
All these activities will certainly have a knock on effect on your customers’ experience, and greatly contribute to your marketing efforts.