A Step Ahead of the Competition
We should all feel pretty lucky – in America, if you woke up tomorrow and decided to start a business, you can! Small businesses greatly contribute to our economy, community and create jobs. Actually, if you take a walk downtown in your neighborhood, it can seem pretty overwhelming to see how many businesses are up and running. More businesses mean more competition – or does it?
Let’s take, for example, the restaurant business – notoriously known for how hard it is to break into, and then stay open for longer than a year. For hungry customers, the choices out there are endless. What about the hotel business? You can walk out of any airport and be confronted with at least 15 choices in one mile. So how does a business attract customers and start building up a regular client base?
Building a Base
In truth, it is a combination of many things – marketing, attracting and retaining the best employees, staying true to your main goal, growing and expanding as times change, planning and staying with-in a budget and customer service.
Today we are going to talk about customer service. If you have two equally good burger joints in your town, both serving delicious burgers (their main goal) BUT Burger Joint 1 has a rude hostess, wait service that moves too slow, it takes an hour to get your burger, no ever asks if you need a refill, the tables are dirty, the floor is sticky, the bathroom looks like you catch something by just walking by the door, you check is always wrong and the space is cramped and too dark. They may make great burgers, but at this point you’re thinking “So what?”. You may even take the next step thinking, if Burger Joint 2 is the exact opposite – attentive staff, pleasing atmosphere, super clean – you may even be willing to pay a little more or even wait in a line to experience a dinner out at Burger Joint 2.
Don’t Cut Down on Customer Service
Many companies treat customer service as an expensive that needs to be minimized – but taking this route will only hurt you in the long run. How can you achieve “5 star rating” in the hospitality business?
1. Go above and beyond
Does your hotel guest need an extended check out? Give it to them. Does your dinner need food prepared in a special way? Make it happen. Customers today want to know their business is appreciated. These little and relatively easy actions can make or break how your customers feel about you and your business.
2. Stay consistent
Be reliable. Your guest may have had a wonderful experience the first time they visited your business, they may have even told their friends – perfect! Now they come back and nothing is like how they remember it. They will be sure to share their negative experience with their friends as well.
3. Deliver on your promises.
Don’t be deceitful, pulling customers in with the promise of specials or savings, but never following through. While this may be a quick way to get people into the door, customers will quickly shy away from any business that doesn’t seem trustworthy.
4. Listen with an Open Mind
This may seem counter intuitive, but let your customers complain! Sometimes a customer just wants to be listened to. If you are then aware of a bad experience you can address it and hopefully have the customer leaving happy. This also gives you a chance to look into and change policies and procedures as need be. remember this extends to online ratings and reviews. Check out userlike.com‘s article – How Customer Service Can Improve your Google Rankings.
5. Keep it clean!
This is so important. People want to feel safe and content. No one wants to eat or sleep somewhere dirty. Sanitize and clean in one swoop. Customers will start judging your business the moment they arrive outside. Are your store-front windows clean? Is your hotel front and parking lot nicely landscaped? All these things contribute to how the customer sees your business. If they think you care about your business, they are more likely to think they will be provided with a great experience.
These extra efforts will make a huge difference – don’t let them fall to side.
Customer service should be one of your main focuses and should be improved upon daily. You should also provide training to your employees; consistent customer service should be instilled among all employees.