Saturday, July 25, 2009

Three Tactics for Earning Customer Loyalty!

While in a meeting with one of the major hotel chains this past week a question was asked by one of the hoteliers present …  “What are our competitors doing that is really catching a customer’s interest?”

That was a great question…… Here are my thoughts on this subject.  They are presented in the context of the meetings & events industry, but really the concepts may apply in any business sector:

  • Deliver Innovation — offer something to customers that is cutting edge …customer service cartoon

Example #1—  Starwood Hotels rolled out a program where customers may use their earned “starpoints” (frequent guest program)  towards Educational offerings and membership services for PCMA (Professional Convention Management Association).  This is a terrific program because it enables Event Professionals to fund a variety of services they otherwise may not be able to afford.  No other hotel chain is offering this so it is truly innovation at its finest.

Example #2Hyatt Hotels unveiled a “Twitter Concierge” program.  On the Twitter page the bio reads “HyattConcierge. Striving to make a difference for our guests every day.”  The tweets posted are responses made to customers about their specific hotel needs before, during or after their stay.  The service, once again unique in concept, is available 24/7.

  • Be Strategic — the word “strategic” is a bit overused these days but really is a crucial element of fostering customer loyalty.  It’s no longer adequate for business people to just be “order takers” or “wait for the phone to ring.”   To remain relevant they must learn about every aspect of their customer’s business.  Then, assist them in creating effective solutions to address their business challenges.

StrategicPlanExample (using Hotel scenario)Hotel Sales Exec is aware the client’s event is struggling with room block performance and suspects attendees are booking their reservations outside the block at other “lower rated”  hotels.  Hotel Sales Exec contacts customer and offers the value proposition of an “early bird reduced rate special” anchored with a drawing for Free Dinner in the hotel’s Gourmet restaurant.  All attendees booking their reservations at the hotel before the early bird deadline qualify for this offer.

Was this consultative recommendation of interest to that customer?  You bet it was!

  • Collaboration — Invite customers to participate in development of one of a firm’s services or products.  Engaging the principles of Co-Creation, the synergy of mixing perspectives of buyers and sellers can be magical. Not only will a client appreciate the opportunity to be part of this process, their input will be invaluable!  After all, they ultimately have a vested interest in how it culminates.

Question:  Do you have a formula for success you’d like to share with us in generating customer loyalty?  We would love to hear about it!

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