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.
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