"Experience, and more to the point, customer experience is everything if you are going to be successful in business" I was told. "Listen and Learn from your customer" was another piece of advice, "Finding out why people DON'T do business with you is as important as KNOWING why they do" and the list goes on.
Since I started our training company, my level of understanding of the customer experience has ramped up a few notches, in fact it is safe to say that travelling all over the UK and engaging with 1000's of businesses, not just in the property sector, has had a profound effect. We at Allstars are constantly researching various industries for Key Learning points that we can share with our clients, and often they are formed from our experiences on the road.
Now one of the key elements to life on the road are Hotels, and it is safe to say that we are experienced with the various chains across the UK. One particular chain has stood out amongst the rest, Premier Inn. Let me tell you why I love it...
Now before you shout from the rooftops....'Thats because its cheap" think again, in many cases Premier Inn is not as cheap as some hotel chains, but what makes it special in my eyes is the fact it is one of the ONLY chains that understands its customer. Before I continue I want to make 2 points...
- I own no shares in Whitbread.
- I am not being paid to write this.
So now thats out of the way, here are the reasons I love it.
Firstly, the Ease Of Booking a room, online is my preferred choice and direct. In fact Whitbread confirm in their March 18 report that 97% of Premier Inn customers book directly and of those 85% book via digital channels.
KEY LEARNING POINT...Utilise technology to make one of the first interactions your next vendor has with you, simple and quick.
Second on the list is their Check In and Out Process. This has developed over time and has been reinvented to make the customer experience less painful. Premier Inn historically followed others with staff counter check-in (as in most hotels) but have now moved to an automated process to save time at a key point of the customer journey. Nobody wants to have a lengthy wait after travelling to get into their room and relax. Premier Inn listened and developed their automated process.
so upon arrival simply enter your name to find your booking and print your key cards. 2-3 minutes and you are in! On the way out, pop your key card into the slot on the desk and you get your bill emailed.
KEY LEARNING POINT: Automate as many of the processes as you can to keep your PEOPLE on the PEOPLE (customers).
Third, the Team. You could argue that with more automation than most hotels, why would the Premier Inn still have staff members around, this is because the customer wants it. There is a notable consistency with the quality and friendliness of these key people no matter which Premier Inn you find yourself in. They have been well trained and continue to be so each month to ensure the service is kept high at all times.
KEY LEARNING POINT: Regular training to keep service levels high, after all this is what your customer wants.
Next on the list is the Room. Arguably one of the most important elements. Now when I am staying at a Premier Inn I want to get the best nights sleep I can, so they provide a high quality king size bed to ensure I do get the best sleep I can. Simple. I also love the fact that the room is not cluttered with unnecessary furniture that I am not going to use.
KEY LEARNING POINT: Keep understand your customer and give them what they want.
Penultimate point, they Stay in Touch. Never intrusive and always with permission so I know I am getting relevant content.
KEY LEARNING POINT: Add value to your customer with your marketing and they will keep you in mind.
Finally, their Customer Promise, 'A Good Night Guaranteed' if you are have had an issue with your stay then they will refund you, arguing with a customer provides a different guarantee.... No more customer. I found myself woken at 3am due to a faulty fire alarm and all of the guests were refunded in the morning, no questions asked.
KEY LEARNING POINT: Do you have a Customer Charter? or promise? if not maybe its time to think of one. If you do then maybe it is time to review its consistency.
I will leave you with this, when you get it right, the results can be pretty good, and what do I mean by right?... PUT YOUR CUSTOMER AT THE VERY HEART OF YOUR BUSINESS, DELIVER A WORLD CLASS SERVICE THAT IS ACTUALLY TAILORED TO THEIR NEEDS (Not just said).
*Bryan Mansell is an owner, consultant and trainer at Allstars and prides himself searching out and learning about the culture, ethics and processes of the worlds most successful brands to see what they can bring to small UK businesses and estate agencies.