Do you know what your guests really crave? What Customers Crave: How to Create Relevant and Memorable Experiences at Every Touchpoint by popular speaker and corporate strategist Nicholas J. Webb gives more insight into the desires of customers. Mr. Webb explains with customers being able to rate their experiences and express their opinions online so easily, especially on websites like Amazon, TripAdvisor, and Yelp; there has been an irreversible shift of power from businesses to consumers. There is no place to hide for those who deliver poor products and services because they will be vetted by customers who will share that information throughout cyberspace forever.
Mr. Nicholas Webb argues that we, as business people, first must understand our consumers better and then create relevant experiences to specific customer types. What does he mean by "types"? Simply, knowing what customers love and what customers hate. Make the effort to understand what customer types we serve, and then learn what those types love and what they hate to design beautiful experiences throughout your time together.
5 Critical Touchpoints:
- The pre-touch moment is when your potential guests are checking you out online and looking at how you maintain your inn.
- The first-touch moment sets the theme for how your customer will view their experience with you.
- The core-touch moment represents how you serve them throughout their stay.
- The past-touch moment is the final experience they have with you so send them off with a memorable good-bye, so they want to come back.
- The in-touch moment is how you stay connected with them after their experience with you. Consistently and pleasantly provide them with ongoing value so they willingly want to come back. This is not the time to be sales-y.
When you go far above what they expect, you have given them a memorable experience. Listen to your customers. Read their comments in reviews and in your guest books. Ask your guests when they book how they found you and if there is a reason for their visit.
Webb advises that you must invent the experiences that fit your market, service product, and customer types. Not sure of your audience(s)? Create a one-sentence mission statement that is powerful and to the point. It should define the foundation for why you are in business.
The author writes about an experience he had staying at a luxury hotel in San Jose, California. At the extravagant price he was charged, he expected an extraordinarily high level of service. He was disappointed with several things:
- He found a plastic card informing him that he would be paying $29.99 a night for internet service (most B&B inns offer free wireless internet)
- There was a large Evian bottle with a card hanging from its neck reading, "Enjoy this for $19.95" (B&B inns are known for giving their guests access to free refreshments and goodies)
- On the back of the remote there was a sticker warning him that if he stole the remote, he would be charged for it (given the unlikelihood of a "remote-control heist", he said he would forgo the label that insults a customer's integrity)
Webb points out that when your customers love you, they will buy more and stay longer all while referring their friends and family to stay with you. However, if you deliver only what your customers expect, Webb states that you will lose your guests to a competitor that wows them. The "innovation zone" is where you begin to exceed your customers' expectations. The better you get at this, the further you will rise.
What gets even better is that your customers will become your marketing machines through social media and word of mouth and you will rapidly build a reputation as the best place to stay in your local area. Satisfied customers will nurture you with sales, repeat visits, referrals, and incredibly powerful ratings on social media as well as through digital sharing.
Nicholas Webb reminds us that acquiring new guests is much more expensive than keeping current guests. That is why we should deliver exceptional and relevant experiences to build an excellent reputation across all touch points and to all customer types.
If your price is less than the value customers expect, you will increase sales as well as happy customers. However, if the price exceeds the value customers expect to receive from you, they will leave in droves.
As you begin to distinguish between customer types, your perspective on how you view customer expectations changes. You can see the world through your customers' eyes, including what they love and what they hate.
You customers can clue you in to areas that need improvement and tell you how to improve them, which allows you to provide the most exceptional and relevant experiences. Reward your guests who present ideas on how to improve their experience at various touchpoints. If customers leave because they are not being properly served, your hospitality business eventually fails.
Mr. Webb advocates for collaboration with people in your same industry since it can add to greater mutual prosperity through an exchange of ideas, experiences, and skills. This explains why bed and breakfast inn associations are a great resource. There is strength in coming together as fellow proprietors who want to offer the best hospitality possible.
Your customers can do a complete background search on your business literally in seconds. To stay on top of your business reputation, Nicholas recommends using Google Alerts on keywords that are relevant to your business name, industry, and competition.
Put together a contest encouraging people to specify what they love and what they hate in overnight accommodations. Reward prizes to the top three people who offer most helpful suggestions (such as a free night's stay or free room upgrade during their next visit).
Mr. Webb gives practical tips for making an upset customer (guest) a lifelong guest in five easy steps:
- State to the customer that you intend to listen to them and work hard to make them happy.
- Know that sometimes you just need to remain quiet while the customer releases steam and talks about why they are upset (if you listen carefully, you can learn what will make them happy).
- Confirm with them that you heard them correctly by restating it back to them and asking if that is correct.
- Offer a solution based on what you learned from carefully listening.
- Follow up on the mistake to make sure you met with their approval (this shows them that making the situation right was a priority for you & your inn).
Great organizations love their customers and want them to be happy. Businesses get better when companies get better. Constantly look for ways to reinvent the customer experience by removing pain and adding pleasure.
Always leave your guests wanting more! Continue to provide exceptional service throughout their stay. Customer experiences are not just one event, but a series of events. Think of your last touch as a way to prove to your guests that you love and cherish the relationship. Then continue the relationship by offering personal, relevant, and valuable information on your website, in social media, and in e-newsletters.
Providing excellent service is vital to those in the hospitality industry. Mr. Webb stated that one of his clients who operates high-end lodges and resort hotels started having team members take pictures of the guests throughout their stay and a few weeks after guests returned home, they would receive a complimentary and beautifully bound photo album ($40) delivered to them (for less than $20). Annual re-bookings increased by 78%!
What's more is that hundreds of customers posted the pictures on their social media which resulted in a 20% uptick in new bookings because of this practice. Today, guests are also sent a digital photo album to make it easier for them to share their photos on influential social networks. This proved to be a fabulous idea well worth the investment because of the additional business (from returning guests and new guests).
Taking Mr. Nicholas Webb's advice, we should discover what our guests love and what they hate. Of course, this depends upon who we are trying to attract. What types of guests stay at your B&B? Are these your ideal guests? What do your ideal guests love and what do they hate? Keep track of all of your ideas, brainstorm with employees or others in your industry, and listen to your guests, so you can know what your guests really crave.
Image by Marcus Berg of Unique Angles Photography