The social distancing rules and health protocols have emphasised the importance of customer loyalty.
Businesses whose loyal customers continue to buy into their services and products could stay afloat. Others have not been so lucky.
The pandemic has also highlighted the need to find new and different ways to keep in touch with people. So they don’t forget your brand.
Build customer loyalty during this trying period and beyond. Here are ten foolproof methods we would like to share with you.
Personalise, personalise, personalise
In hospitality, one size does not fit all. Customers love to feel special. You can do this by personalising everything for them. Starting with using the customers’ names properly. This may seem trivial, but many hospo businesses seem to forget this basic rule. And forget their customers’ names as well.
Another way to personalise is to proactively offer customers options. Consider these examples:
- offer them a free breakfast or free spa services if they stay for more than three days.
- If they mention that the stay is for a wedding anniversary, give them a box of chocolates upon their arrival. Or provide a free bottle of champagne in their room.
- if it’s their first time in the country, put a small hamper of local snacks and drinks in their room.
Create a profile for each customer. Keep adding their preferences to it each time you get new information.
Who doesn’t love freebies and special rewards? Create your loyalty program by acknowledging repeat or frequent customers with these strategies:
- Start a point system that customers can redeem for free stays or upgrades.
- Offer an exclusive set of discounted rates.
- Allow priority or late/early check-ins.
- Give them free daily breakfast or a complimentary cocktail.
- Allow them access to an exclusive lounge where you offer premium food and specialty drinks.
- Put a personalised welcome back note and token in their room.
- Be pet-friendly and welcome your customers’ furry family members.
Be sure that the special rewards and perks you give are right for your customers. Guests with children will appreciate in-room video or board games, but elderly guests may like books more.
Modern technology is one of the best ways to easily track customer behaviour and preferences. But you can leverage it even more.
Let technology ensure that each customer receives personalised content even if you send out one single message. This reduces costs and resources for your business.
Chatbots can answer questions no matter what time it is (providing great customer service). These will automatically tag customers based on the Q&A.
Various automation and analytics software can keep track of guest information. Then remind you of important dates. For example, you will get notifications when it’s a customer’s birthday or anniversary. You can then send them a special text message or e-mail to greet them on that special day. Actually, some software can automatically do this for you.
Other software can gamify your loyalty program. This leads to more interaction and engagement with your customers. For example, customers spin a virtual wheel to earn extra points under your points system.
When your loyal customers visit you, you can wow them with smart technology features. Let them use tablets instead of phones for room service. Offer parking reservations via apps and let guests enter their rooms using mobile keys. These wow features also double as faster and socially appropriate alternatives to traditional check-in procedures.
Engage customers via social media
In this day and age, practically everyone is on social media. There are different ways to reach out to and engage your loyal customers through these platforms. Post insightful articles, tips or special offers. Greet your customers during special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries or work promotions.
But there’s a plethora of platforms out there. So, one thing to note is that you have to find out where your customers hang out. This step should be part of your personalisation profiling.
If your customers prefer Facebook, promote your brand there. If they are more into Twitter, then go there. Perhaps the majority of your customers are executives who focus their activities on LinkedIn?
Use multiple communication channels
Social media is just one communication channel. Don’t focus all of your attention and marketing on it. Use other messaging channels literally at your fingertips. Such as texts, e-mails, voice messages, videos or podcasts. Again, technology helps.
Listen to your customers
Actively solicit feedback from customers. And take what they say seriously. It’s one of the most effective ways to get your customers’ views. If they share constructive advice, think of it as a chance to improve your services and processes.
You can go for the tried and tested paper survey form. Pair this up with a sweet treat or reward so customers will be more eager to fill it out.
You can also go digital. Add a feedback form on your website. Incorporate mobile feedback apps with your loyalty program. Integrate it with your regular email newsletters. Encourage them to leave reviews and provide feedback.
Whether you opt for analogue or digital, make sure that your feedback form asks the right questions.
Asking generic questions such as “How satisfied are you with our service” will likely give you answers that you can’t use to make meaningful changes.
Include questions that will generate actionable responses. A great example would be: “What is the one thing we can do better that would make your next visit more enjoyable?” This question indicates that you’re eager to listen to your customers, willing to keep improving your service and expect them to come back.
Tap into their emotions
According to Harvard professor and neuroscientist Gerald Zaltman, 95% of purchase decisions happen at the subconscious level. Emotions and beliefs play a big role at this level. This is why it’s always a good idea to tap into the emotions of customers. People buy into brands with their hearts.
In the hospo industry, one of the surest ways to tap into your customers’ emotional triggers is by making them feel special. Help them create meaningful experiences through your products or services. They will carry these feelings and memories long after their visit. These can also prompt them to re-visit the source of those feelings and memories over and over again.
Provide exceptional products and services
Even before they step foot on your premises, customers are already observing your business. Is your reservation and check-in process seamless? Are your staff members friendly and attentive?
Nothing in your business is too trivial. Did you know that food and beverage quality ranks high among customer complaints? Are the coffee and treats you offer high quality? If they’re not, then you might want to partner with suppliers that will consistently deliver the quality products that your customers deserve.
Train your employees
Each customer is unique and personalisation requires flexible assistance. Your employees have the crucial job of implementing your business’ brand of customer service. They interact the most with your customers. So, it’s vital that you continuously train and empower them to provide excellent customer service.
Do they make eye contact and smile appropriately? Address the customers properly? Actively listen when customers talk? Recognise repeat guests and understand their preferences?
Nurture the relationship
As previously mentioned, a customer’s experience with your business lasts long after their visit. So, nurture the connection so you can develop a trusting relationship with them. After all, loyalty is all about long-term social bonds with people.
Try to do this without bombarding customers with info. A short thank you text or email after their visit. Surprise them with a small gift during their birthdays. Offer them exclusive promos. Again, keep every interaction with you emotionally meaningful and personalised.
Loyal customers are important
Repeat customers provide the profits. They are more willing to spend money on your products and services over and over again. They are also more likely to say yes to upgrades and refer your business to other people.
When unexpected circumstances arise, loyal customers are the ones who will stay with you.
But this level of loyalty has no shortcuts. You will need to work hard to touch people’s emotions and gain their trust. Are you up for the challenge?