Before you can improve customer retention, you have to acknowledge that customer experience sits at the heart of your industry’s business. It is the single largest factor which determines the fate of your hotel.
Dissatisfied guests aren’t likely to come back - that should be obvious - but they also don’t stop there. They are much more likely to leave a bad review. And once a venue receives bad reviews, it becomes harder to rebuild its reputation.
Switched-on sales managers understand this and recognise the influence technology can have. When it’s used effectively, it will make you stand out from the crowd by nailing your customer service.
1. Make It Personal
You need to be using tools to record your guests’ personal needs and preferences - the easiest way is with a CRM.
Consider the following customer story:
- A customer checks into a hotel in London. Asks for an extra feather pillow and a specific bottle of white wine to be brought to the room - she explains it’s her favourite.
- Using a CRM, the clerk makes a note of this on her contact.
- The customer visits a Hotel of the same chain in Birmingham and, to her surprise, she finds an extra feather pillow on her bed along with a cooled bottle of her favourite wine in the mini bar.
How this story unfolds is how the hotel industry can win big just by understanding the needs of the customer. By simply making a note about the guest in a CRM, you give yourself insights to leverage later.
This level of customer service makes the guest feel special, valued and is a HUGE draw for guests thinking about there next stay. It’s these little touches that build relationships with guests and boost loyalty.
2. ChatBots: The Digital Concierge
When it comes to technology, we believe chatbots are destined to steal the hearts of many sales reps.
The ability to have a 24 hour, 7 days a week virtual assistant, delivering answers to simple questions or requests is a game changer for the hospitality industry. People have become accustomed to getting answers quickly, and being able to answer FAQs at a moments notice appeases this.
“What can chatbots do, exactly?”
Chatbots act as a digital concierge. They can answer questions like ‘When does the restaurant close?’, ‘How much is an executive suite?’ and ‘What time is checkout?’ - the questions your front of house team field daily.
They bridge the gap between the online experience and the personal service hotels are famous for.
When your team is freed from these tasks, they can spend more time delighting customers like in the scenario above.
Plus having access to someone - or in this case, something - that can give you answers quickly, is exactly what modern guests want.
And the thing is, once people get used to it somewhere else, it can be disappointing to go back - i.e. they are reluctant to stay elsewhere because your customer service is so engaging, fast and helpful.
3. Using Workflows To Delight
Automated email workflows can help you communicate with your guests by sending them relevant content at the right time.
There are many, many ways to use workflows but you want to know how to improve customer retention. So, here’s an example of how we could use automated workflows for this:
1. If you know a guest has had a lovely experience, you can enter them into a workflow to periodically remind them of this and your facilities or special seasonal offers via email - email is the most effective tactic for customer retention. Staying at the forefront of your customer's mind increases the chances of them returning.
2. If you think they’ve had a poor experience, it’s probably best to offer them something to tempt them to try you again e.g. discounts or upgrades. Part of this also involves mitigating bad experiences to prevent them from leaving bad reviews that influence other guests.
Customer Retention ROI Vs New Customer ROI
The right sales & marketing tools and tactics will help you nail your customer service, a major reason for guests deciding whether to return or not. Yes, the tools that help with this come with costs but it’s likely comparable to what you currently spend on other sales & marketing channels.
If you’re anything like the venues we’ve worked with, you’re probably running several Google ads, but if you don’t offer great customer service, guests won’t return and you’re going to have to continually pay for ads to attract new visitors.
Investing in ways to retain customers is going to offer a far better ROI - after all, it costs 5x as much to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one.
The Best Tools For Increasing Customer Retention:
Increasing your guest retention rates starts with nailing your customer service. And nailing your customer service starts with understanding your guests.
Unfortunately, understanding the customer fully is one of the key hotel industry challenges, but with the right tools, it doesn’t have to be.
If you want to do everything we’ve touched on above - and a whole lot more - we whole-heartedly recommend HubSpot. Their data analytics and CRM is like having a little black box of their customer's experiences and desires.
They actually offer their CRM and ChatBot features for free - but don’t let that diminish their quality, they are outstanding.