How to… deliver the wow factor

31 August 2012
How to… deliver the wow factor

Expectations of customer service have changed immeasurably. Everyday service has to be faster, better, more memorable. Gone are the days where a simple smile, hello and fast delivery of products was all it took to receive an ‘excellent' rating on the customer feedback form.

Now customers are actively looking for those ‘wow' moments. They want to be remembered, their preferences acknowledged. They want to be entertained; left with a memory of their experience within your business.

We saw this in action during a recent visit to a hotel in London. When entering the bar our server noticed my companion was left- handed and so placed the coaster to his left, rather than the right. This small and subtle ‘wow' was later recounted to friends and colleagues. We'll certainly return.

Unfortunately, however, not all service experiences are of a similar standard. One-third of customers state service experiences fail to meet expectations - 74% would pay more to receive a memorable customer experience, according to a report by American Express. Can service organisations afford not to offer this level of delivery?

The ‘wow' factor doesn't just happen. Investment in developing your people is required. It doesn't have to cost the earth - there are many low cost ways this can be done, such as job shadowing, visiting those who ‘get it right' and reading books like Danny Meyer's Setting the Table. Staff must be taught ‘what a good job looks like', ‘how we do things around here' and also need the freedom to enhance customer experience.

Check out our three tips which can ensure your staff are consistently wowing your guests - making happy customers return time and time again.
Mary Jane Flanagan is head of learning at learnpurple


1Know your moments of truth
In his book, Moments of Truth, former president of Scandinavian Airways Jan Carlzon, said: "Any time a customer comes into contact with any aspect of a business, however remote, is an opportunity to form an impression."

Start with:

Website - is it easy to navigate? Does it provide useful information? Is there a ‘feelgood' factor? Are contact details clear to see?

â- Telephone - do you answer the call quickly (within two to four rings)? Are you over-delivering on promises made? Are bookings confirmed 24 hours before due?

â- Outside the venue - is it clean and tidy? If you have door staff, are they smartly dressed? Does it feel safe to walk to?

â- Inside - is it clean and tidy? Does it smell nice? Are employees smartly presented, making eye contact and acknowledging guests at every opportunity?

2Freedom within a framework
The only way to ‘wow' is to step outside of rigid standard procedures and operating manuals and think creatively. Encourage your staff to ask themselves with every guest interaction ‘what can I do to make this experience the best they've ever had?' And then allow them to do it, without having to request permission.

If it's purchasing a customer's favourite newspaper which isn't provided as standard, tell staff to get it. If you notice a guest is celebrating, encourage your employees to celebrate with them by offering a drink or dessert on the house. The crucial factor is that your people know the boundaries, the framework, and within it they can make their own decisions.

3Be entertaining
Thanks to the likes of Virgin and Apple, customers know what it's like to be entertained and they want this type of experience every time. To remain competitive, hospitality business must innovate and entertain too. This could be done through technology (think: interactive menus at Inamo, guest check-in through iPads at Hyatt Hotels). Once you've established your moments of truth, consider how you can excite and entertain and then implement.

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