How To Surprise and Delight Your Customers

I met Mitchell Fawcett of Motive Communications earlier this year when he asked if he could use my class to test out a new presentation he had to give at a conference. He did a great job, and I learned a lot, so I thought I’d introduce him to you.

Mitchell and his agency take care of the social media feeds for, among other things, several large hotel brands, including the Westin.

Customer service has always been a huge part of the purchasing experience, and therefore, a major part of any business’ marketing plan. However, with something like a hotel, there is a lot of competition, so in order to set yourself apart, you need to be unique and memorable. Go the extra mile to create a loyal customer. Personal connection is becoming rarer and rarer, so if a business can provide that, they have an advantage.

Mitchell’s speciality is surprising and delighting the clients that come to stay at his hotel. His formula consists of a little detective work, plus a well-thought-out token of appreciation, but the results are pretty spectacular.

In today’s world, if you have enough money, you can buy almost anything. But what you can’t buy is an experience, and what Mitchell provides is an experience that is personal, and sticks with the customer. This results in the customer telling that story to their friends and family, and possibly also to social media. And more importantly, that customer remembers, and who are they going to book to stay with the next time they travel? a little thoughtfulness goes a long way… and the ROI will pay off many, many, times over.

RC:  As someone who represents a major hospitality brand, can you talk a little bit about why creating loyal customers is so important?

MF: We use a simple but compelling equation in the industry to calculate the value of the loyalty for one customer. Let’s say we have a corporate traveller who’s in town for business 6 times per year. He pays $200 per night and stays on average 3 nights each trip. If we do our job and this guest remains loyal to us for 10 years, that’s $36,000 in revenue. That’s an astonishing figure, and something that we try to keep in mind at every interaction.

RC: Can you give us a couple examples of how you might try to surprise and delight a customer?

MF: The possibilities are endless in a hotel setting. In retail you’ve got a customer for a matter of minutes, in a hotel it can be days. I love taking advantage of the skills of my chefs, who are always up for a challenge to make a creative welcome snack or dessert. Personalization can really make a gesture like this stand out, which is why I always look to social media to learn about our guests.

RC: What are some of your sneaky tricks that you use to find out more about a customer?

MF: A little social media sleuthing can go a long way. People share an incredible amount of information about themselves online. We recently found out a couple was celebrating their engagement with a stay at one of my client hotels. We were able to find the bride-to-be’s Instagram account, so we printed off a cute photo of the couple and had it framed in their room upon arrival. People take to Twitter to share their personal preferences. If I can see that a guest frequently Tweets at a frozen yogurt shop, there’s the perfect idea for a surprise dessert after dinner. I’m especially proud of the time that I was able to decode a guest’s custom Starbucks order from a picture that they Tweeted with their coffee cup markings visible in the background.

RC:  Can you give me an example of a time when a customer was less than happy, and you managed to turn the situation around?

MF: Mistakes happen, and studies have shown that when a guest has a complaint that is successfully resolved, they often leave more satisfied than if they had no issues during their stay at all. This means that it’s important for our guests to let us know when they have a problem, and social media has allowed us to set up a secondary customer service net. Increasingly guests that don’t want to contact the front desk about a problem will take to social media to share their frustrations instead. It’s my job to make sure we are always listening. A guest once Tweeted that they had no shampoo in their room. We were listening, and had extra bottles sent up immediately. The fact that the hotel was mobilized to respond to this so efficiently made this guest absolutely astounded.

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Rebecca Coleman

Social Media Marketing Strategist, Blogger, Author, Teacher, Trainer. Passionate foodie, mom to Michael, fueled by Americanos. I love my bike. Soon-to-be cookbook author. Localvore with a wanderlust.

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