With a solid foundation every business can fly!
Customer service should be a top priority for every business. Guests want to be treated in a respectful, consistent manner. Customer service is not about doing what is magical, fantastical, or amazing. It is about consistently providing service at a high level, making guests feel special, yet never falling below your basic promises. This level of consistency builds the trust needed to create loyal guests. Consistency is the foundation of customer service experiences. Once your business has an unfailing customer service process that is followed by all staff, it is time to S.O.A.R. above your competition.
S.O.A.R. stands for:
Surprise and Delight
Surprise and delight are an effective way to nurture your guests with enhanced interactions by providing unexpected rewards. Surprise and delights can take many forms. One of the easiest (and my favorite) ways to surprise and delight a guest is with handwritten notes. In my days in operations, my party hosts wrote a personalized thank you card to each birthday child that had a party with us. The rules for the card were: it had to be addressed to the child because kids love mail, and it had to mention something that was unique to that child's party. We received so many positive comments from our guests about that simple practice. Another way to surprise and delight guests is to remember important dates. I was doing this in my bartending days without any software, simply by listening to my regulars. When they mentioned an anniversary, birthday, or trip, I remembered to ask them about it the next time they came in. They were always so surprised I remembered and were delighted to share with me. It showed I appreciated them enough to care about what was important to them. How can you surprise and delight your guests?
Only promise what you know you can consistently achieve, even on your busiest days. After that, train your staff to look for small ways they could deliver a little bit more. We are not asking the staff to overdeliver all the time with everything. Look for those small, extra steps that elevate your service. Overdelivery can come in many forms: it can be holding the door open for people as they come into your facility; a staff member can walk the food out for a guest that has their hands full; offer a drive-up service to pack up gifts after birthday parties.
Across the globe, 96% of consumers say customer service is an important factor in their choice of loyalty to a brand. ~ Microsoft
Overdelivering on a customer's expectation creates long-term relationships. It shows guests that you are willing to take the extra step for them. Look for ways your staff goes the extra mile and publicly commend them on those actions. Look for customer service stories and share them at your meetings. Make overdelivery a consistent part of the conversation and you will see it become part of your culture.
Accommodate means to adjust to something or someone else's needs. Have you ever noticed hotels are also called accommodations? Why is that? It is because they are designed to meet the needs of the guest where they are. Does the guest need to work out? Enjoy the gym! Have some work to do? Take advantage of the business center! Looking for a way to unwind and relax? Try out the spa or pool area! All businesses should think of their customer service strategy through the lens of accommodation. It is not enough to provide services to the guest. We must do it in a way that allows the guest to feel as if their needs are met. Let me share a great example of this: in 2012 during a road trip, my brother and I stopped at a Waffle House at 3 a.m. We left before ever getting our food due to bad service. On the way out, I called the 1-800 number posted in the window. I did not expect much, but I left a voicemail anyway.
"You'll never have a product or price advantage again. They can be easily duplicated, but a strong customer service culture can't be copied." ~ Jerry Fritz, author of Breakthrough Customer Service.
Not only did I get a callback, but the regional manager found the next Waffle House along our route and told me there would be a hot meal waiting for us when we arrived. Everything was taken care of, and we were sitting down to a great meal within 45 minutes of making that call - in the middle of the night! In addition to being simple, people want customer service to be easy. Look for ways you can be accommodating to your guests. Make the core of your business guest-centric and guest loyalty will soon follow.
All the work you have completed up to this point is fantastic, but it is not complete. The needs of guests are constantly evolving. We must be willing to change and adapt to those needs. We need to regularly evaluate and refine our strategy. To refine means to remove impurities or unwanted elements: refine your processes when customers share their opinions; refine your sales as new products or services are added; refine your reactions when the world throws curve balls. Make a vow to not become static and complacent, because our guest experience demands quality.
Start S.O.A.R.ing in your business!