Customer satisfaction starts with knowing a customer’s wants, interests, needs and expectations, which can lead to an increase in customer spend, repeat business and long-term loyalty.
Years ago I was introduced to the concept of the customer’s WINE list, which was developed and copyrighted by Thameside International. You will never be able to serve or market effectively to your customers unless you really understand their WINE list. What does WINE mean?
Look at everything from the perspective of your customers. The more you know and understand, the easier it will be to meet their expectations, give them exactly what they want to win new business as well as create repeat and referral business.
There's a difference between what people need and what they want. The best way to illustrate this is to think of what happens when you go shopping. What you might need is a pair of comfortable hard wearing shoes that you can wear every day for work. However, what you want is something that is stylish. Ultimately, you end up buying something that is anything but the sensible shoes you set out to buy.
Or how often have you come home from the grocery store with far more than you intended to buy? We might only need something for dinner, but it's very easy to get tempted by some other things—chocolate cookies, a bottle of wine, flowers, etc.—which when we see them we want them, no matter the cost. Or you succumb to a special offer on something you wouldn't normally buy because the offer is so good it tempts you to give it a try.
Never assume that you know what your customers want; their wants, interests, needs and expectations may be very different from your own.
Determine what your customers want and what they are looking for when they come to you. What are their likes and dislikes? What other factors may subconsciously determine their decision? Are they things such as comfort, the setting, feeling that they have something in common with other guests or staff members?
Identify your customers’ highest priorities. What are the things they are particularly looking for and might be prepared to pay a premium for? What criteria do they use to assess these? For example, if value for money is important, what factors do they consider when determining value for money? The better you understand these, the easier it will be for you to get their attention.
Understanding what’s of interest to your target audience not only gets customer attention but also it helps build rapport. Even if they are not looking out specifically for something that appeals to their interests, if you can offer it, you’ll get them hooked. For example, if your hotel is an outdoor attraction and people come to you to expel energy and get some exercise (what they want), if you’re able to talk about or show them something that’s of interest (such as wildlife or something educational for the children), that’s an added bonus. Understanding people’s interests may help identify areas where they are willing to spend a little extra.
Needs might not be specified or consciously considered but might be a prerequisite, such as location or facilities. With a hotel, someone might only need a roof over their head, a bed, shower and a meal, within a specific budget, but they want an experience, to relax, feel pampered, to have beautiful surroundings, entertainment, etc.
Expectations are seldom stated as there’s almost an assumption that these will be delivered. They might only be highlighted if they are absent. Such things as safety, cleanliness, good service, being appreciated or consistency only come to a customer’s attention when they are lacking.
Keep in mind that your different customer groups may have very different WINE lists; there may be a few shared requirements, but by analyzing what each of your different groups are looking for, you can then target your offer, messages and service accordingly.
If you really want to understand your customers, you must ask them. Even if you've been running your business for a long time, your customers’ expectations change. That means you could find that your hotel is being left behind. So never stop asking questions and listening to feedback from your customers to fully understand what's important to them, what they need and what they want.
Customer satisfaction starts with knowing your customers wants, interests, needs and expectations. Understand these and you're well on the way to being able to capture the attention of your customers over your competition. Exceed these and you’re on track for increasing customer spend, getting repeat business and developing long-term loyalty.
Caroline Cooper is a business coach with over 25 years in business and management development. She is the founder of Zeal Coaching, specializing in working with hospitality businesses, and is author of the “Hotel Success Handbook.” For more information on Zeal Coaching see http://www.zealcoaching.com/.
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