Tag Archives: building customer loyalty

Engage with your customers and make them feel valued

Look at me!

I don’t mean this in a ‘look at me, aren’t I wonderful’ way. What I mean is, ‘Oy, look at me when I’m talking to you!

Yesterday I overheard a market stall holder moaning about the lack of business. I was buying from him and therefore providing him with some of that precious business he was so anxious to secure.

But rather than look at me, engage and give me his full attention, he carried on his negative conversation with his mate next door. Even when I asked him to find something for me he continued with his moan. Needless to say I cut my buying short.  Did he want my business or not? Not only did he fail to make me feel valued as a customer, he lost out on additional sales there and then by not listening to what I was asking for.

Hardly surprising he didn’t have much business. I certainly shan’t be taking mine there again….

Sadly we see this all the time, customer service staff continuing their personal conversations in front of the customer, and worse still when actually ‘serving’ the customer. I put the word ‘serving’ in inverted commas as to me this is not serving at all.

OK, rant over, but does this ever happen in your business?

Do you love your customers?

I’ve recently starting working with a new client. This was a referral, and led me into a sector of the industry I’ve not worked in before. But, you know what, I’ve loved working with them. Do you know why? Because everyone I’ve dealt with has the same values and we’ve hit it off from day one.

The result?

I’ve been at my best which means a happy client, and happy me.

Could the same always be said for your relationship with your customers?

If you are attracting the type of customers who either don’t appreciate what you do (the discount and voucher hunters come to mind for many of us) or with whom you’ve absolutely nothing in common you’re unlikely to enjoy working with them and this is likely to show. Not a good recipe for long term loyalty.

You need to be able, to have that connection and build rapport to engage with your customers. This means you’re in a better position to know what they want and meet their expectations. Plus if you want to keep your sanity I’d say it’s a pre requisite….

Start by thinking about what is important to you. What are the values by which you want to run your business? If sustainability is important you’ll want to attract customers who also value this. If you love the outdoors you probably want to attract people who share this enthusiasm. If you’re passionate about your pooch you might welcome dog lovers. If service excellence is your most important value you’ll want to attract people who value service.

Whatever it is, whether it’s a sport, hobby, principle, or interest the clearer you are on what’s important to you the easier it is for you to establish your ideal customer. Who are the people you’d like to attract more of as customers.

Having in mind your ideal customer means that you can tailor everything you do with them in mind, increasing your chances of attracting them (and not those who fail to appreciate what you, spend less and complain in the process!)

Too many places try to appeal to everyone and end up satisfying no one. You can always tell a venue that has no specific target market in mind, as they are not focused and consistent with what they do and tend to offer far too much choice and things that don’t necessarily complement one another. Not only does it make life more difficult for you having to appeal to so many different needs, it makes it very difficult when it comes to marketing your business and attracting new customers.

This doesn’t mean to say that you won’t have more than one category of customer; for example, you may focus on corporate business during the week but still be a perfect destination for a romantic weekend break. Or you may be attract pre school families during the day but active adults and teenagers in the evenings. Having two or three target groups can be a healthy thing to help level out the peaks and troughs, and minimises the risk if any one target group of customers comes under threat.

But keep in mind the compatibility of your two or three main target markets – to each other and to YOU.

A customer is the life, not just for Christmas

You may not be dreaming of a White Christmas, but I’m sure you’d like a profitable one, so you don’t leave things to chance.

Over the Christmas period you will inevitably have a number of guests or diners who will be coming to your hotel or restaurant the first time, so ensure you create a great first impression and a reason for them to return. Equally you’ll no doubt have a number of your regulars who are coming to you because they know you, like what you offer and trust you’ll deliver what they expect. Ensure you don’t disappoint and demonstrate you appreciate their loyalty.

Maintain your standards

Just because you’re busy or you are offering some good deals, don’t let this be an excuse for poor service or poor value for money. This could be damaging for your reputation and potentially embarrassing for your existing loyal customers, particularly if they are entertaining or have referred you to others.

It will obviously also leave a poor first impression for those who are guests and potentially visiting you the first time.

Trading up

Whereas your customers might be looking for a good deal on the basic price, particularly for group bookings, this doesn’t mean to say that individuals will not be prepared to you trade up to a premium drink or additional menu items. Ensure your team are in a position to make suggestions and recommendations, and are fully aware of what is feasible, and what’s not a practical proposition. Then check that your bar and kitchen staff are prepared and can cope with the ad hoc and additional items.

According to a survey by The Mystery Dining Company many people planning to eat out over Christmas are not making advance bookings. This means hotels and restaurants offering good value and being flexible with walk-ins versus bookings could benefit from last-minute business.

Show your appreciation

Nothing should be competing with your Christmas promotions so don’t plan any other offers or accept other vouchers during this period that undermine your potential Christmas revenue.

But have everything in place for the New Year and what you’ll have on offer that’s exclusive to your Christmas guests as an incentive for them to return sooner rather than later. Even if partygoers are not in the mood to be parting with their personal details that can be added to your database, at the very least have vouchers, brochures or even a goodie bag as a taster of those special bonuses, offers or packages you’ve lined up just to them.

Of course in a perfect world you’ll also be getting their contact details so you can add them to your mailing list, but ensure you have some incentive for them to do this; maybe a prize draw in the New Year, ensuring of course it’s still relevant to non-locals if you’re attracting visitors from further afield, or maybe even for a draw on the night for each of your party nights. If your market is predominantly locals, talk to your suppliers or other local businesses who may be happy to sponsor some other prizes in return some publicity. Bearing in mind you’ll be busy, whatever you use for capturing details make it simple.

Keep in touch

Schedule some time after Christmas to follow up with your mailings. Keep your list of segmented so party organisers on one list, and guests on another so you can keep your mailings pertinent and personal.

This will enable you to follow up with all your party organisers or the person who made the booking to thank them for their booking. Show you appreciate their feedback so you can learn from them what worked well, and what they didn’t like, so you can improve on it for next year. Don’t just do this on the night or at the end of their stay, but follow up post event.  If there is anything they didn’t like they may be reluctant to tell you there and then in front of other guests.

Following up now helps to develop your relationship, and increases your chances of repeat business either during the year or next Christmas.

How to get your staff Upselling ~Part 1

Upselling is something we are all exposed to from time to time.  And whether you sell meals, bedrooms or widgets, it’s technique that can not only help your bottom line, but done well can give your customers an all round better experience if done well.  Here are some of the things to consider in getting your team to upsell effectively, and to include in your hotel or restaurant staff training.

Upselling usually involves marketing more profitable services or products, but upselling can also be simply exposing the customer to other options he or she may not have considered previously. Upselling implies selling something that is more profitable or otherwise preferable for the seller instead of the original sale’.  But is it just about increasing the customer spend, or is it also about giving the customer a better all round experience, giving them something they might have forgotten to order, or never even thought of?

McDonalds of course are the masters of this – have you ever not been offered fries or a drink to go with your burger. And when was the last time you bought an electrical appliance and not been told the benefits of an extended warranty?

What to promote

So in order to do this effectively the first thing is to determine which are the products or services you wish to promote.  It obviously makes sense to be promoting high profit items, but there can be a danger in using this as the only criteria.  Unless what you are promoting is perceived as value to the customer, it’s unlikely the sale will be achieved, and does little to build your customer’s loyalty or trust.  It’s also important to distinguish between high selling price and profitability, and appropriateness to meet the customers’ needs.  For example upselling to a more expensive bottle of wine when it does not appeal to the customers tastes.

Tomorrow we’ll look at the first of the three key things your staff need to upsell effectively.

For more articles and resources https://www.naturallyloyal.com/products-resources/