Customer experience is a term that we hear a lot in the hospitality and gastronomy industry. Research shows that when choosing a place to eat, sleep or drink, 73% of individuals consider customer experience as an important factor for determining where they will spend their money. But what does customer experience mean? The customer experience, also known as CX, can be defined as the holistic impression that a customer has of your brand. This perception encompasses everything from social media interaction to the customer service they receive from your team. Customer experience is a result of all the touchpoints and check-ins that your business has with your customer, from the moment they search and first discover your business. Customer experience is extremely important for any business, but especially in the fast-moving world of hospitality and gastronomy post-pandemic. Customer experience directly increases: 

  • Customer satisfaction 

  • Customer loyalty 

  • Word-of-mouth marketing through positive recommendations, both offline and online. 

Putting the customer first can only be good for business. Thus, determining what is important to your customer and what they like or dislike as part of their customer experience, will directly impact your revenue streams. For example, 20% of customers consider long wait times to be their top customer experience frustration and 80% of customers want their customer experience to be more personalized. Connection is still central to the human experience, and customers want to feel connected and engaged with a business from the moment they discover them to the moment they leave their doors.   

So, what is the ideal customer journey in 2021 for the hospitality and gastronomy businesses? In this article, we will take whistle-stop tour through the perfect customer experience based on the statistics from previous years and the emerging trends of 2021. 

Step 1: Your customer first encounters your business 

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The outstanding majority of customers will first encounter your business through online search or social app. It takes about 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds) for people to form an opinion about your business. Top elements that capture their attention and enhance their customer experience are: 

  • Mobile friendly website and profiles: 80% of customers will check out your business using a mobile device. 

  • Good visuals: 64% care about the photos that you have on your profiles and website. Keep your visuals sharp and up to date. 

  • Easy-to-find information: 93% of people view menus online before choosing a place to dine in or out. Add your menu to your profile or add a QR code to your window that allows an easy scan and browse. TWISPER Business offers you the chance to generate QR codes at the touch of a button.  

  • A personal connection with your business: 92% of customer identify a recommendation from a friend as a critical influencer in their purchasing decisions. 

  • User generated content: 79% of people say that user generated content highly impacts their purchasing decisions. 

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Step 2: You’ve got your customer’s attention, but what will convert them from a potential customer to a new customer? 

Customers may not make a booking or choose to order from your business straight away, however once you’ve got an individual’s attention by ticking key customer experience factors, it’s important that you keep that attention. Even loyal customers want to feel continuously engaged and connected to your business. When it comes to continuous customer engagement, there are three words that apply: communication, communication, communication. 

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All this communication should happen across your social media channels, website and online profiles for consistency. PWC found that the number of companies investing in the omni-channel experience has jumped from 20% to more than 80%. This strategy ensures that wherever your potential customer sees your business, they are not getting mixed messages.  

Step 3: Your customer makes their booking or order from your hotel, restaurant or bar. 

You’ve guided your customer through their customer experience and ticked all their boxes. What is the most important thing for customers once they decide to spend money with you? Customer service. 96% of customers say that good customer service is vital to them returning to a business.  

Don’t forget that each new or loyal customer presents an opportunity to market to future customers. Look at the previous steps in the customer experience journey. Providing your customer with talking points that they can share on social media or positive experiences that they can write about online, amplifies the power of digital word-of-mouth marketing.  

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Step 4: Your customer completes their order or visit  

If you have ticked all the great customer experience indicators up until this point, once your customer has left your doors, they are no doubt set to return in the future. In the meantime, it is essential to maintain customer connection. How do you do this? 

  • Request feedback via a survey: Customers feel more valued when you ask for their opinion. Ask them to complete a quick survey to understand how their experience was with your business and where you can improve. This will also help to prompt your customers to leave a positive recommendation online if they have enjoyed their experience.  

  • Thank your customers for their feedback: Happy customers deserve your appreciation. TWISPER allows you to automate a personalized Thank You Message to those customers. 

  • Create a newsletter: Customers with a strong attachment to a particular company spend 23% more than average consumers, and the newsletter is a prime candidate to distinguish a brand from the competition. Here is a great guide to creating a good newsletter for hotels, restaurants and bars. 

Step 5: Your customer returns 

Part of good customer experience involves rewarding loyalty. Rewarding loyal customers is the key to keeping them, and loyalty programs have always been a key feature of the industry.  

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Membership programs that offer discounts and coupons are still relevant but consider how your rewards can be set up in a way that impacts continuous and personal customer engagement. For example, why not focus on surprise birthday rewards for a personal touch, or access to a VIP menu or service to enhance their customer experience on-site. Encourage them to participate in contests on social media to win a stay or free menu item, not only will this engage your loyal customers, but it will also give you increased reach to new customers via their social networks.  

Although the past year has seen a big shift in the landscape of the hospitality and gastronomy industry, it’s more important than ever to be in tune with customers’ needs and preferences. Keeping your customer at the center of your marketing and operations will ensure that they feel appreciated, and fully enhance their customer experience, and TWISPER allows you to do that. 

Celebrating great customer experiences is at the heart of TWISPER’s ethos. From the time your customer finds you on TWISPER through a friend’s positive recommendation, to them booking with the 0% commission Booking Button, on to enjoying your place and them sharing their own experience of your place on your business feed and finally receiving your customized Thank You Message, TWISPER allows you to maintain great customer experience at each customer interaction. Great customer experience leads to loyal customers, and loyal customers are your best brand ambassadors to attract new customers. Ensure that your customer experience is on-point, and the rest will follow.