How do you create guest loyalty? You make sure they’re satisfied. When is a guest satisfied? Simple: when the experience that you provide exceeds the expectation they had when they walked in.
What separates the ordinary from the extraordinary? It might sound tacky, but it really is just that little extra component of service that the guest might not expect, but will certainly appreciate. The businesses that provide the best service have realized that it only takes a little bit more effort, done consistently, all of the time.
Here are five of the most-proven ways to exceed your guests’ expectations. By no means is this list linear, nor are any of the items mutually exclusive from one another. Each of these can be done in conjunction with each other, and by all levels of staff.
1. Deliver countless moments of truth. A “moment of truth” is defined by each and every interaction that a guest has with your staff throughout the course of their visit. Every moment of truth is an opportunity to exceed your guests’ expectations. At the same time, every moment of truth is also an opportunity for a service failure. Every moment of truth carries its own weight, some bigger than others, and they all add up at the end to determine the level of satisfaction, and ultimately, if the expectation has been exceeded.
2. Personalize the service. What if your staff learned the name of every guest that visited you, and used their names regularly throughout the interaction? The more you use a guest’s name, the more connected they feel to the interaction, which leads to a higher sense of connection to your business, even long after their gone. Any chance you have to get to know your guest, even in quick interactions, leads to a strong sense of personalization. Asking a guest where they’re visiting from, how long they’re in town, and what they’re most excited about seeing also makes the interaction feel more personal.
3. “Redundant enthusiasm.” How can enthusiasm be redundant? Doesn’t that contradict itself? Let me ask you this – what were you most excited about the first time you visited your attraction or facility? What about your staff? Even if something has become routine and even redundant, your guests seeing it for the first time are looking at it with fresh eyes. When you get excited about something that has become routine for you (and for your staff), it brings back that novelty and the guest has a higher sense of appreciation.
4. Anticipate guests’ needs. Your guests don’t always know what they don’t know. They may not know what questions to ask, how to ask them, or they may make assumptions that may or may not be true. When you identify these moments, it’s your responsibility to interject and guide the guest in the right direction. I have always said that anticipating guests’ needs is a combination of your staff using their proficiency of your attraction (policies, restrictions, operating hours), along with their own common sense (showing that they are truly “there” and not just going through the motions).
5. Provide “wow” moments. You don’t need to make a guest the grand marshall in a parade in order to provide a wow moment (although if you can, that’s a pretty big deal). Like I said earlier, the best service providers just do a little bit more, all of the time. What can you do for a guest that they normally can’t do themselves? What can get them more excited about your attraction that when they leave, that they’re guaranteed to tell everyone they know about their experience? A look backstage, and VIP escort, a free upgrade to the next level. Perhaps there’s a small investment involved in providing a wow moment, but the return is always worth it.
This list is by no means conclusive, and each of the points are only the tip of the iceberg for how to maximize the experience. Just remember, the only way to achieve lifelong loyalty (consisting of repeat visitation and spending, and active word of mouth) is through exceeding your guests’ expectations, day in and day out.
What else do you do to exceed your guests’ expectations?
As the Founder of BackLooper, a consumer insights tool, Joshua not only helps attractions generate higher volumes of customer feedback, but provides them with the intelligence needed to correct the most pressing concerns that detract from the guest experience. Joshua’s passion for guest experience comes from his background in hospitality and tourism, serving visitors from all around the world and specializing in complex service failure resolution. BackLooper has proven to help attractions optimize their feedback loop and foster guest loyalty.