Proactive customer care

Why anticipating what your guests would want means more than giving them what they ask…

Proactive customer care can be defined as communication making use of mixed channels that pre-emptively engages guests by providing information before the need arises for the guest to ask. The main goal of proactive customer care is to strengthen relationships, increase loyalty and reduce unnecessary enquiries, ensuring that your establishment delivers a satisfying customerservice. It further enables an establishment to measure guest satisfaction and enables the destination to immediately resolve issues before they expand.

Customer service providers in the hospitality and tourism industry should strive to create a positive first impression. For hospitality and tourism destinations it is important to successfully attract, engage and capture new customers by proactively reaching out to prospective guests. By addressing anticipated questions early in the customer life cycle you immediately start the relationship in a positive way, influencing customers’ future behaviour. Such proactive activities are invaluable to successfully build future relationships between guests and the brand.

Proactive Customer Service (Image from: 1to1media.com)

Proactive Customer Service (Image from: 1to1media.com)

Some examples of proactive customer care include:

  1. Timely reminders:

Increasing guest retention through timely reminders of upcoming events, bookings, and other important reservations.  With the busy schedules of modern day customers, reminders of their appointments are much appreciated. From a hotel, guesthouse or restaurant’s point of view, these reminders not only aid in building guest loyalty, but also reduce the rate of no-shows, cancellations and past-due payments.

  1. Proactive confirmations and notifications:

Increase guest satisfaction by delivering proactive confirmations through the guests’ preferred channels. Also use these channels to communicate important information to guests to improve relationships and decrease the potential for dissatisfaction (pain points within the customer’s journey).

  1. Reduce guest service costs:

Reduce the service costs associated with reaching, satisfying and retaining guests by creating a positive brand image for the hotel, guesthouse or restaurant that will do the selling for you. Influence your guests’ buying patterns by incorporating current trends, designing the perfect unique selling point. Observe what guests do and identify guest expectations from there.

  1. Enable guest interaction:

Enable guests to interact directly with your destination if confirmation details are incorrect, a change to a booking is required or any other queries need attention. Think creatively – initiate new proactive services that set you apart from your competitors.

  1. Opt-in or choose yourself:

Providing prospective and current customers with reliable and relevant communication subscription options, through preferred channels, gives the destination the chance to win over customers at their own choosing. Identify how your customers want to be contacted – through email, direct calls, social media, or SMS – and also at what time and day they’re most receptive.

If you still wonder why proactive customer care is such a big deal, surveys have shown that it means customer loyalty, because customers repay anticipatory service with more loyalty which translates into long term value. The main goal of proactive customer care is to surprise and entice customers with convenient and useful information at the moment that they are most receptive.

Advertisements

What do customers want?

Source: Uploaded by user via Travelling Mystery Guest on Pinterest

Do you know what your customers want? It might sound absurd, but it’s a legitimate question and one that we often try to avoid due to the complexity thereof. Not one customer expects exactly the same and not one establishment offers exactly the same.

Say for example you own a guesthouse. The first thing your customers will notice in your marketing is the word “guesthouse.” If they are well educated it will indicate to them that you definitely serve breakfasts, which are included in the rates, but you most probably also serve dinner, even if it is just by arrangement. It comes down to you, as the owner, to know the definition of a guesthouse. If you market yourself as a guesthouse, your customers expect the service of a guesthouse. The word is a brand promise in itself. That is why we need to be very careful with our promises to our customers. We can’t promise and not act on it. We need to walk the talk.

So as a customer, what would I, as a customer and potential mystery guest, expect from a guesthouse in general?

  • A well designed website, which is easy to navigate.
  • Professional telephonic, web and face-to-face communication.
  • It would be really special to receive some kind of welcome gift – gifts for some reason always makes me feel more at home. This could be done at a 3 star guesthouse too, you know? It might even be used as a USP (Unique Selling Point). Even just a flower from your garden in the room is special.
  • Special treatment, even though I am the tenth guest you’ve booked in today.
  • A smile.
  • It would be super if you asked how my day was. I might just go ahead and share a bit of myself with you, giving you more information for your database on customer demographics.
  • A clean and neat room without any odours.
  • Ample lighting.
  • Proper communication on when, where and at what time dinner and breakfast is.
  • It would be really special to receive a personalised letter on my bed saying that you hope I will enjoy my stay and that I am welcome to call reception anytime if I need anything. Maybe also state that there is a bottle of water in the bar fridge. (I don’t know what is where in the room, you know…)
  • Clean, fresh linen without stains. The same goes for the curtains and the carpets in the room.
  • No debris in the bathroom or any chipped tiles or stains in the bath or shower.
  • To be treated as if I am one of your best friends whom you haven’t seen in ages (except for the non-stop talking). How would you treat that person? You’d go out of your way to make him or her feel comfortable, right? Well, that’s how you should treat every customer walking into your establishment.
  • Be knowledgeable about the area and your industry. If I rather want to have dinner at a fancy restaurant tonight, which one would you recommend?
  • I expect to feel safe. So does my car.
  • I expect you to be attentive and be willing to assist me with anything I need assistance in.
  • I expect you to ask me if there is anything I need.
  • But, I also expect you to give me space. Don’t be in my face the whole time. Read my body language. If I put my knife and fork next to each other, it means I’m done with breakfast. (I know – some customers never learned those basic manners, but they are not many.) If I am standing around in the foyer, my taxi is most probably late. Ask if you could call them for me. Be attentive to my needs all the time and I might be less attentive to the negatives next time.

Bad, inconsistent service equals horrible customers. I can tell you that much. Good, consistent service: loyal customers and friends for life.

Visit our Pinterest page for more Customer Service quotes and tips.