The issue with most difficulties that arise in our Hospitality businesses is the answer to one simple question:”Do you approach the fundamentals in a formal and strategic effort or do you simply execute unrelated tactics mostly for the sake of immediacy?”
The difference is one that is lost on many operators, and it is the reason so many Guest Experience (GuestX) programs do not deliver demonstrable results.
Simply put, if we ask operators, “Are you involved with efforts to improve your guest experience?,” who wouldn’t answer yes? Everyone from the dishwasher to the server to the cook to the manager on duty would claim they are enriching the GuestX. But how many managers of the business would be involved in or leading a methodical, strategic and formal effort to understand, define and improve their GuestX?
Guest experience management is not defined by intentions or even a few choice actions but by the commitment to an analytical, deliberate, organized GuestX approach.
Is your Guest Experience program built to succeed or to fail? That is not a simple question with a simple answer, but here is a list of 10 items that tend to describe those GuestX management practices that widens the gap between desire and reality. The greater the number of items on this list that describe your GuestX program, the more struggles you will face in improving your brand’s Guest experience in meaningful, valuable and measurable ways.
Your GuestX program may be designed to fail if:
- You do not have a Voice of the Guest or any similar Guest feedback program available to provide enough information to allow you to understand your brand’s Guest experience from their perspective, or make strategic and innovative recalibrations.
- Your primary goals for improving your Guest experience are to increase sales and traffic (transactional) rather than to lift leading indicators of brand success such as satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy.
- You execute micro GuestX programs within specific units or departments without collaborating across, or understanding the impact on, the entirety of the organization.
- You attempt to be all things to all people, seeking to improve GuestX for a stereotypical Guest rather than for the unique and valuable segments or markets your brand actually serves.
- You start your GuestX efforts with channels (i.e., mobile or email), products (i.e., dine-in, takeout, delivery, catering) or processes (i.e., steps of service) rather than with mapping out the end-to-end journey that seeks to identify, understand and add value to all Guest needs and goals.
- When you map your Guest experience, you begin when a Guest enters your physical property and not earlier. Or, you end with Guest’s paying their bill rather than with Guests who are loyal and active in telling others about it.
- When you map your Guest Experience, you start with your existing processes and not from the outside-in, learning about the Guest’s desired or expected experiences.
- You seek to identify and solve problems with your current touchpoints rather than trying to understand how your business policies, practices, and processes must change to better serve Guest needs and wants (or how those wants and needs can be expected to evolve in the future.)
- Most of the GuestX changes you make are to things your brand says (advertisements, website copy, and marketing content) and not what your brand does.
The Guest Experience programs that are the most impacting and successful actually change how Hospitality businesses operate, strengthen relationships with Guests, and result in sustainable, long-term success. That doesn’t happen by accident or with disparate, disjointed, or reactive GuestX efforts. Only by committing to a proactive, data-oriented, collaborative GuestX program designed to improve organic Guest sentiment can your Hospitality business enjoy the benefits offered by Guest Experience Management.