Part II — More Customer Experience tips from my Aberdeen travel
I’ve been burning to drop a sequel to my last article on Customer Experience, but wanted to give readers some time to think about the 7 tips I shared previously. If you’re yet to read the Part I, click to read it.
Remember, the goal is to deliver exceptional services to your customers, leaving them no choice but to keep using your services for a very very long time. These customers become loyal customers, ones that spend more buying your products, and are less sensitive to price changes. Who wouldn’t want some loyal customers in their clientele?
Let’s quickly get into a few more customer experience tips you can implement in your business.
8. Payment options
On a previous travel, I asked the taxi driver to pass through the nearest cashpoint. Why? They only take cash, and I had no cash to pay for the taxi ride. In a foreign town this can be so awkward — taxi driver trusting that the tourist has money to withdraw from the cashpoint, and the passenger hoping the taxi driver will be supportive.
In Aberdeen I noticed something with Rainbow Taxis! When you book a taxi, they always ask, “How are you willing to pay? Cash or card”? This simple question helps them send a taxi that offers the payment option the passenger has requested. Problem solved!
Lesson 8 — In a digital world and global marketplace, you need to cater for local and international buyers. Some payment methods work better in specific geographical locations e.g. STRIPE for U.S.A and Europe. Consider your customer demographics and ensure you’ve catered for payment options that work.
Asides the core services you offer in your business, a small selection of customers may need some extras. For example, some hotel guests may need to check out later due to various reasons. Most hotels offer a late check-out service, extending their standard check-out time from 12noon to 2pm or 3pm, to cater for guests that need this service. The Hampton by Hilton Aberdeen Hotel is one of such hotels offering this as a complimentary service (most hotels charge for late check-out). What I love is the availability. Sometimes, you just need to check-out late. Convenience is the customer benefit here!
Lesson 9 — Look beyond your core services. Study your customers and find opportunities to extend your services with optional add-ons. It provides a better experience for your customers, plus some revenue opportunities for your business.
10. Micro Customer Experiences
Family-friendly hotels are a top choice for families. At the Hampton by Hilton Aberdeen hotel, there’s a pile of colouring sheets and tubs of crayons at the reception. Trust me, no kid walks past it without wanting one. This just makes the experience more enjoyable for the kids, and their parents too. This is the same reason why McDonalds kids ‘Happy Meal’ is so popular. The child-friendly meal box and the toy is a top reason why kids will always want to go back there. Can you see why it is so important to understand your customer inside out (both paying and non-paying customers)?
Lesson 10 — The summation of all the micro-experiences you give a customers is what adds up to a massive exception customer experience. Rather than finding big things to do to WOW your customer, find many small things you can do too. It eventually makes a huge difference.
11. Grace & Kindness
There are some brands that behave so unfriendly. I was kept on the customer helpline queue from 4.45pm one day only for my call to be dropped at exactly 5pm. So bad! It doesn’t leave a very helpful or supportive customer experience. A friend had to cancel an appointment with a make-up artist (MUA) who yelled at her for the last minute cancellation and warned her not to do that again. I understand the inconvenience but there are far better ways to handle such issues without putting customer relationships at risk.
Staying at the Hampton Hotel was different. You can check-out late (without paying an extra fee), show up a little late for breakfast (they deliberately keep it a little longer in case anyone wakes up late). It’s these little things that customers believe you’re there to serve them. The value of a customer is much more than the dollar(s) the spend. They have the ability to attract a whole community of new customers, but it depends on how you treat them.
Lesson 11 — Don’t be unnecessarily strict with your customers. Be professional but apply grace and kindness into the delivery of your services. It builds a more healthy relationship with your customers, and they will have no choice but to come back again.
12. Data, data, data!
Just as we boarded our flights to Aberdeen, the airline assistant mentioned we were the family of 4 they were waiting for (to board). They had all the data on their system, no need for looking through pages of documents.
When we arrived at the hotel, it was the same, they were expecting us. I remember mentioning we wanted a late check-out and it was noted on the system. The day of our check-out, I reminded another hotel assistant at the front-desk who pulled up our record and mentioned it was already registered on the system. They had ALL the records. Can you imagine if they did not record it, or someone had forgotten? Bad customer service it would have been!
Lesson 12— Data is the currency of the digital age. As a minimum, use a business solution (such as the FREE version of My Centre Office www.mycentreoffice.com) to keep adequate records of your customers. For example, consider keeping data on the following (obeying applicable data protection regulations), and you can leverage it to grow your business:
a. Customer contact details — so you can reach your customers easily, upsell more services to them via email/SMS marketing etc.
b. Customer milestones — birthday, anniversary date, the day they started using your services etc, so you can celebrate your customers and make them feel even more special
c. Transaction details — so you can see who your top buying customers are. This will help you re-target your customers more effectively, so you can boost revenue opportunities too.
Why are you capturing all these? Because it helps you know your customers better, and build long-term relationships with them. This is how you build a community of loyal customers.
13. Employee Satisfaction
I had a chat with the management team of the hotel front desk, and I asked them two questions —  What do you do to give your customers the best experience? and  How do you make your team deliver such level of customer service? This is the second team I am asking these questions in the last few weeks and one answer stands out — “We love our jobs”! I am a very strong believer of employee satisfaction. Healthy teams deliver better customer experiences. Can you imagine how poor your customer experiences can be if your teams are not motivated, poorly paid, unhappy, stressed etc?
Lesson 13 — Look after your teams. It really is that simple!
It’s been a really good trip, and for me, a massive reminder that Customer Experience determines if your customers will continue using your services (and paying for them) or disengage. Leading businesses continue to prioritise customer experience (over product and price) because they know the value it provides. Companies that prioritise customers, see growth in their business, and this is what you should desire in your businesses too.
After reading all these, what will you do to boost the experience you give your customers?
Customer Experience always wins!