“Ultimately it is the human connection that builds and sustains [customer] loyalty.” – Patrick O’Connell, Owner of The Inn at Little Washington.
In speaking with businesses owners this month, we have discovered encouraging and beneficial examples of customer relationship management in the industry. It is clear that one major step to recovery is successful customer engagement. Engaging your customers in your story, ethos and brand is essential to keep them coming back during this time.
Here are TWISPER Business’ top three ways to strengthen customer relationships during this time:
1. Prioritize your online presence & communication
The hospitality ecosystem has been steadily evolving over the past decade, and this pandemic has only accelerated the move to digital. Customers perception of experience and engagement has been changing during the pandemic and with in-person interactions severely limited, your digital presence is of utmost importance.
Streamline your website and utilize platforms that enhance your presence online. Social apps like Instagram, Facebook and TWISPER all boost online interactions and allow your customers to connect with you, even with social distancing or lockdowns.
Soi Thai restaurant in Geneva shows how effective communication on a platform such as Instagram can be done. Their announcement honestly and openly communicates the current difficulties their restaurant is facing and outlines their business operation plan for this next lockdown. They keep their passion and love of what they’re doing at the forefront. In just a couple hours, their post received 230 interactions, representing a solid 10% of their Instagram audience, and a 200% increase on interactions on their previous posts. Several customers left messages of support and encouragement. This is customer engagement done right.
Soi Thai Canteen Team, Geneva
2. Keep your online image up to date to reassure customers
Keeping your online image consistent and up to date, allows customers to engage with your business without conflicting information. Even though your operations may have changed or stopped completely, still make regular announcements or updates. Consistent and regular updates via digital platforms will really enhance your customer’s perception of your business and make them want to book now or in the future.
Customers are 34% more likely to make a purchase with businesses that communicate effectively, using the right frequency and digital channels.
Clear communication of changes to operating hours or PPE strategies will give customers confidence in your operations. For example, a homepage website banner with clear health and safety protocols will put customers at ease and set their expectations before they visit, book or order through you.
As the need for trust and security are driving the purchasing decisions of consumers, having a consistent online image can increase revenue by 23%.
3. Create an open loop of engagement that promotes positivity
Brand loyalty is positively and significantly influenced by brand trust. Customers gravitate towards brands that they have more of a personal connection with. By providing a platform for interaction with your customers helps to differentiate you from the competition and enables the human connection that is missing during these times.
“I like to adapt to each individual customer. We haven’t just set one standard; it’s about how I deal with each person. I am going to tap into what each guest is looking for, not just what I want to give…It’s so important, because we all like to feel individual.” - Sean Davoren, Head Butler at The Savoy.
Recognizing your customers as individuals and tailoring your online approach during this time will ensure a greater sense of customer trust. Some wonderful examples of this can be found on social media. Bread Ahead Bakery & School in London doubled their Instagram following and won several new customers by offering live masterclasses on bread making. Matthew Jones from Bread Ahead spoke to us in October saying “Online gave us a lift and the ability to still share what we love and interact with our community.” Chefs like Zoë Kanan, Christina Tosi and Michelin starred chef Massimo Bottura also turned to the internet for a sense of community. Every Wednesday the executive chef of Wagamama created a “Wok from Home” series, training home cooks on how to make their favorite dishes from scratch.
The #JourneyinPlace campaign started off by Rosewood Hotel Group, is another example of positive engagement. It recognized the customer’s desire to break out of their own four walls and reminded them of good times they had in the past. It keeps the customer engaged with what they have to look forward to.
Other hotels used the first lockdown to showcase their interior design, giving tips on home decoration. Rocco Forte Hotels gave customers a look behind the scenes of their luxury establishments by interviewing key staff members for weekly newsletters.
Why not invite your loyal customers of the past to share their favorite experiences, meals, memories at your place? Ask them to share their photos, tagging you on social media, or leaving a recommendation that reminisces of their past experience.
Providing a platform where customers can leave their comments and offer support, frames your business in positivity. It is the perfect opportunity for the customer to be reminded of the good times they had at your place, while recommending it to potential new customers. TWISPER is the perfect platform to invite your loyal customers to share old experiences on the app, sharing them with their network of friends and followers. Authentic communication will keep customers connecting with your business and will foster a new sense of loyalty and trust.
Positivity in the face of adversity is a speciality of the hospitality industry, and we can learn a lot from how businesses approached the first lockdown, as we go into the second. We should take these stories and use them to adapt our approach to customer engagement moving forward.
Customer perception of experience and engagement will continue to evolve as we move into next year. As we readjust to this new normal, prioritizing your digital presence, keeping your online image consistent and providing a forum for positive interaction with your customers will help you to consolidate and grow your customer base. Positive engagement will bring brightness and variety to your customers’ day, and who doesn’t need positivity in times like these?
TWISPER is on a mission to bring fairness and positivity back to the hospitality industry. Access our growing audience of 1.5 million users today and claim your business for free on TWISPER.
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