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Building a Customer-Centric Culture in the Tourism and Hospitality Industry

Putting the customer first is not a new idea. However, the same technologies that are changing customer behavior — including mobile devices, social media, the cloud, the Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence— are enabling businesses to personalize interactions with customers in a whole new way.

Personalized service doesn’t just mean upleveling a generic experience with a person’s name,” pointing out Seth Butera, “Instead, it’s about dynamically creating a personal experience at each and every moment — from the first search that helps customers ideate their needs to their final purchase and every moment of the journey in between.”

Simply providing service with a smile isn’t enough. You must win at every interaction the customer has with your brand, whether it is a social media post, email, or direct phone contact. I often repeat it in my various articles and public talks that “You have a small time between the first engagement with a potential client and gaining their trust” hence winning or losing business 

Let’s try and narrow down of best practices brands can adopt to be able to provide more customer-centric experiences 

Hire more talents and passion than academic qualifications; Creating a great customer experience starts by building a stellar team. Having people who are positive, professional, passionate, and consistently put the customer first, can really set the stage for a great brand experience.

When hiring team members, make sure to ask probing questions about their values to see if they align with your brand and your ideal customer. In addition, try to visualize them in an everyday setting with your company by incorporating a less formal interview into the hiring process. An informal interview will show a personal side that will help you determine if they are someone who will put the customer first.   

Remember, your team can dictate the entire brand experience for your customer, so it is important you hire with your customer and values in mind.

Loyalty is never really Won; One of the reasons that I believe we need to work on building engagement in all industries, not just hospitality, is because customer demands are constantly evolving. What satisfied them yesterday can bore or even disappoint today.

To acquire and retain our customers, we need to be constantly upgrading our products and services, so that they will be surprised and delighted. This also means that loyalty is much less long-term than in the past and lifetime value is now measured in months or a few years, rather than in decades.

Create a customer-centricity culture in all aspects of your business; A customer-centric business shouldn’t be a focus for your front line team only. It should be a priority for each department in your business.

Whether they are team members who work in the back end or are management level, everyone should be trained on the value of putting the customer first. This ensures that the products or services being offered are crafted with the customer in mind. As an example, if a developer at your company is familiar with your customers and constantly has them in mind, they can offer valuable suggestions to better tailor your program to the customer. In addition, if you own a restaurant and your chef is familiar with the customer, they can tailor menu items and make suggestions to better the experience.

When all aspects of the company are focused on the customer, your service/product offerings become that much better.

Value is more important than Price; Having additional control of our lives today, means that customers are re-evaluating what they are offered. They have higher expectations and are more discerning in their choices. They expect recognition at every touchpoint, even if in reality their decisions are influenced by their peers, more than by traditional marketing.

In addition, the internet enables us to compare multiple offers, so we are far less interested in bundled propositions than we once were.

Reinforce customer-centric values consistently; Even though you have set expectations for your team during the onboarding process, it is vital that you consistently remind teams of customer experience expectations and values, to achieve optimal results.

Employees over time can get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday business life and put customer centricity on the back burner. To constantly drive a culture focused on customers, take time out of their day to send a friendly reminder.  For instance, if it is part of your company culture to hold daily huddles or weekly management meetings, make sure to spend some time highlighting a few key values and why they are important. In addition, make it a priority to lead by example by having management showcase examples of customer-centricity daily for team members to follow.

Customers today dictate the buying experience, which means catering to them and keeping them top of mind is essential.  By practicing these top tactics you’ll always put the customer first and be on your way to developing a powerful customer-centric company.

Dialogue doesn’t just Communicate; In today’s connected world, customers want a say in not only what they consume, but also where, when, and how they are marketed to. They want the chance to inform companies about what they want to buy and expect a rapid resolution to any queries or complaints they may have.

Build Relationships with Strangers; The hospitality industry is based on serving and satisfying its guests. But in today’s connected world it also needs to consider people who are currently strangers – but could potentially become guests. These may include the friends of past guests, who have heard about your brand and are interested in visiting it for themselves.

Lastly, This is a call to action by employers, it is fundamentally important to be reminded that your employees are the first clients and ambassadors of your business and how you make them engaged and part of the business determines how much they give out to your clients in terms of service as the saying often goes ” Take care of your employees and they will take care of your business” treat your employees with humanity above all and they won’t disappoint.

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