The fact is, Sweden is on a mission to outlaw cash. People use cards all the time there. Swedish buses do not accept coins and notes. Nor does the Stockholm metro. Over the border, Danish people don’t like using cash either. This is probably a good thing. Because soon they might not even be able to.
After releasing platform-specific iOS and Windows apps, Shopbox re-evaluated its mobile strategy and chose C# and Xamarin as its go-forward mobile development language. Today, we’ve invited Shopbox CTO Alexander Ribin, to share how his team successfully transitioned from disparate teams and multiple complex code bases to delivering rock-solid iOS and Windows apps that customers love just in three months…
Read more HERE.
Extrinsic motivation refers to external influences that impacts staff performance. External motivators can be either positive, like grades, awards or rewards, or negative like a punishment. While intrinsic factors cannot be easily influenced by the manager, extrinsic values are completely within his control. The difference between a good and bad manager often comes down to the ability to understand his staff. A good manager should know and understand his staff in order to motivate each one in one way or another, that is a raise or a bonus, or a promotion or a change of task, in order to create diversification and subsequently more focus in the new challenge.
Be kind toward your organisation. Take good care of each staff member and it will create a feeling of belongingness. A closely knit and coordinated team will always be more productive than one that is scattered. Simple team-building sessions or events like staff parties is a great way to weld the team, while also giving the team a chance to put down tensions created during long and exhausting working hours. It’s also important to remember to celebrate the small successes, to make the team feel like they can make a difference and have an impact on results.
The World of Reviews
The hospitality business is a tricky area with an incredible amount of competition. If you own a café, bar, restaurant or hotel in a major city you are likely to be in close competition with your neighbours – and doing seemingly small things better than them can make a large difference. In this post we’ll talk about how to make a difference by getting reviews – something that many owners and managers have given up upon a long time ago, often concluding either a) that customers simply don’t want/have the time/are excited enough to write reviews or b) reviews don’t really matter that much, and the risk of a bad review is not worth the effort.
But although the consumers of the twenty-first century are “busier” – whatever that means – and most often equipped with unbelievably short attention spans, it is possible to get customers to give their input and make a difference for your business.
77.3% of online shoppers say reviews highly impact their decision to make a purchase – and with the internet looking as it does today, reviews are easier than ever to find. Who doesn’t know Tripadvisor, Yelp, Facebook – and with Google as the right hand of every potential decision-maker, playing online hide-and-seek won’t get you anywhere.
Apart from the data, however, here are a couple of less statistical pointers as to how embracing reviews can improve your business
- You hold yourself accountable
The risk of getting negative reviews will automatically put you into the mindset of providing great service. Being aware that you may get a bad review works the same way as the principle of “what gets measured gets managed” – where there’s an obvious risk, there’s a need to hold yourself accountable.
- You get a chance to make the experience you provide for your guests even better
Encouraging guests to make reviews will force you to become even more conscious of the service you provide, becoming more pro-active and better at reacting to whenever a potential bad experience may arise for a customer.
- You get a chance to improve
By encouraging reviews you also risk getting bad reviews – but bad reviews are not necessarily bad for your business. View them as a chance to improve both your current service and your relationship with the unsatisfied customer.
There are many ways to get better ratings, and many shapes of those ratings – whether on Google, social media or specific review sites such as TripAdvisor or Yelp. Let’s go step by step.
Step #1: Decide on which platform to put your focus
Which platform(s) to focus on depends on your target audience. If you are placed at a central spot and tourists account for the majority of your income, it’s a good idea to focus on the fora that are specifically for travellers. If this is your case, TripAdvisor or Yelp are both good places to start.
If, on the other hand, your business is either located outside the center of the city or if locals are the main source of income, it might be a better idea to focus your efforts on your Facebook page – this page will most often be in the local language, and locals are more likely to search on Facebook than to go to Tripadvisor. If a local customer checks in at your place on Facebook, there’s also a better chance that his local friends will take notice of your place and consider visiting.
If you’re looking to improve your local search engine optimisation, it’s a good idea to focus on reviews for your Google Business account.
Step #2: Decide how to ask your customers
If you show how engaged you and your employees are in your business, customers are likely to like your business more – and engaging in conversations with them about what good service is, asking them how their experience in your place was or any other questions related to improving your business will also make guests more likely to leave reviews for your business on your desired platform.
1. The psychology factor: You need to establish a wanting to leave a review
However simple it may sound, it’s a common sales technique to ask people questions and listen to what they have to say; most people like to hear themselves talk, they like to express their opinion in the hope that they will make a difference or that you will like them more. Asking a simple question such as “how did you find your experience in our café today?” will spark a natural interest in them to express their opinion. And from their side, if you care so much about their opinion, they will automatically like you more.
Most often, engaging with someone about their experience and telling them how proud they would make you if they would take the time to leave you a quick review will in itself prompt a positive review, and is a better alternative than compensating visitors for reviews (which is also against certain platforms policies – such as TripAdvisor).
2. The convenience factor: It needs to be easy for them to leave a review
Unless your customers are mostly yoga-fanatics with a marvellous zen-factor, your customers are likely to have a very short attention span, to be busy and to not feel that helping your business is a priority in their life. You basically need to make it easy and convenient for them to leave a review. Convenience can have several factors by itself – accessibility, time and device type.
3. The timeliness factor
To encourage customers to leave reviews it is important to ask neither too early or too late. On the one hand, you need to make sure that your guests will have had the full experience you have to offer – and on the other, it can’t be too late after this experience as otherwise the initial sense of having had a great experience may have faded.
If, on the other hand, you mostly serve your high-class French food to an older audience, they are less likely to want to spend their time at the table with their loved ones struggling with technology. For this audience you can ask if they would like to subscribe to your newsletter where they will get good discounts and offers, and in the same sentence squeeze in a question about leaving a review. This way your customers can sit in the comfort of their homes and leave your business a well thought through review. If they feel like going immediately to leave a review, use a URL shortener (such as bit.ly) to make easy links that will redirect to your chosen platforms for your customers to leave reviews.
In terms of your online channels there are a couple of things that will improve your likelihood to gather some good reviews:
- Encourage people on your website and social media accounts to leave reviews
- Make it easy to access your reviews on all your channels – by linking to your preferred platforms whenever you ask for reviews
- Integrate your reviews in your email marketing – take advantage of the opportunity that your newsletter presents to you and use it to ask people to leave reviews
Step #3: Ready, set, go!
And now all that’s left is to get off your computer/phone, and literally just to go out and ask your customers. What do you have to lose? Stop reading, start doing!
It is challenging and quite often, a waiters nerves are put to the test.
Based on our clients personal experiences we wrote down a list of the most annoying types of customers that every waiter hates to deal with but, unfortunately, has to.
1. The rude guy
We can’t avoid the rude one. He is the one that snaps or yells to catch your attention while you are serving other tables, interrupting you while you present the dishes freshly served and complaining because the food is cold after he spent 20 minutes facebooking with the warm plate under his nose or trying to catch the best picture ever of your plate to post in every social media.
First of all, waiters are servers and not servant. Being polite and listen to them will only improve your experience since, even if it is a temporary job for most, they want to do it as best as their possibilities.
Second, you are having a dinner with someone else so put down your phone, talk like in the old time with the others and enjoy the surrounding for those couple of hours.
2. The “I-know-the-owner” pain in the a**
The instant this guy passes the door to your restaurant, you have no doubt that he will be a major pain in the ass. They usually come pretending to have a reservation that nobody took, wanting the best table, extras on the house and particular foods that he does not give a floating duck whether it’s on the menu or not.
Knowing the owner will not make anybody feel special to whoever is serving the customer, unless the customer is going to be served by the owner in person. And most of the time the owner doesn’t even know this person – they just randomly met once half drunk and, since then, they became the waiters worst nightmare.
3. The “One-thing-at-a-time”-customer
This type of customer usually gives you a good run, making sure you fall asleep the minute you hit your bed after your shift. It goes:
- “Sorry could we have some more bread?”
- “sure, here it is”
- “oh thanks, and could I have a cola more?”
- “There you go”
- “thank you, can I also have a spoon”
- “here is your spoon”
- “oh and maybe also a bit more oil”
… and you go back and forth and back and forth from the same table six or seven times in 2 minutes – most often when the restaurant is fully booked and all the other customers are waiting, the bell in the kitchen is ringing and it’s half an hour since you tried to find 1 minute for yourself so you can finally go to the toilet.
Those people usually cannot wait for what they just asked and complain if you go first with some hot meal from the kitchen instead of bringing them a spoon (and also – why on earth do you need a spoon?! I just served you a t-bone steak!!!)
4. The “Keep-on-waiting” type
The scenario is always the same. They call you, usually a bit annoyed because you didn’t go directly to them, even though they are still all looking at the open menus in front of their faces. You go there and the show starts. Usually the one who called you starts saying “so guys what do you want?” “I don’t really know, what are you having?” “I don’t know, maybe the whole menu or maybe just a small salad, but it kind of depends on what you want”.
You try to help them and be polite, but nothing will change. So you cordially say “I’ll be back in a couple of minutes so you will be ready to order” and you got a glance of those eyes becoming more and more evil saying “no, I think we are ready” – and the show starts again.
5. The Picky one
It is quite normal to have some preferences and dislikes regarding food – as long as they are relatively simple. We are not talking about allergies or intolerance but something simple like” no parmesan on top of the pasta” or “no beetroot”.
Sometimes is not so simple – let’s talk about the really picky one.
Nothing in the menu satisfies their “need”, not even the best wellington beef you can find and they will end up ordering a pasta with duck ragout and asparagus without pasta and asparagus or a bruschetta without bread (true story).
6. The late customers
There are two categories of late customers.
The first one is the customer that just made it on time, the kitchen is almost closed and clean and you’re one hour away from closing up the place and finally be able to head home after a long shift – but no. They arrive sneaking in, making puppy eyes and tell you that they will only have a quick course and that’s it. Moved by their expressions and worried about what the boss would say if you deny two guests the gastronomic experience they set their stomachs on, you let them sit and they will punctually order a 3 course meal with the steak well done and a bottle of the cheap wine. Now, this will last for at least 2 hours.
The second category is the one that doesn’t realize how late it is. They already spent 5 hours in the place, and they stopped ordering food or drinks things since hours. You approach them asking if you can make their check, also because closing time was half an hour ago. After another 45 minutes of talk they accept your request, by which time you lost all hope of reaching your friends out for the birthday that you forgot to schedule your work hours for.
With this type of customers, not even cranking up the speakers with Rammstein will make them leave. They soon have you contemplate whether you should get less comfortable chairs in the restaurant.
7. The complainer
You reach their table, the plates are shining because they ate every little piece on them and you put up the usual, even if it seems stupid, question: “did you like the food?”
Prepare to get the wrong answer! “The pasta was overcooked, the sauce wasn’t the one that I thought it was, and I didn’t want parmesan”.
If only customers can say that at the first bite, you can check it and fix it, giving a proper service, but in this case you can’t check it, fix it or even give them something else – because by now, they are full with something that, apparently, they didn’t like.
You try to explain this to them, but they don’t want to listen – instead, they ask you to speak with the manager.
Clients sometimes cannot understand that you want to do your job properly and serve them at your best.
8. The tipper
You always want to make the experience of your customers as great as possible – and this type of customer is no exception.
You show them around, giving the history of the place, explaining the food and giving advice for the wine. This table seems quite nice, even a bit chatty and you enjoy serving them. Until they ask for the check. You bring it to them and he hands you the wallet with a big smile telling you that was a pleasure, great evening and your service was amazing. And lastly, with a bit of pride, he says those 3 words…keep the change.
You go behind the bar and you see that he put 70 € in a 69,98 € bill. Suddenly your big smile becomes the only way to mask your frustration – and now you even have to go back and thank them.
9. The “Sorry, company-card”-excuser
You know from the reservation that tonight you will have a 30 people group to serve with a menu already set for them. The evening is going quite smooth, beside the noise they are making and the fact that you have to run back and forth from their table every single moment.
They finally decide that is time to move to the next place, most likely an hour and a half after the regular closing time – and when they are settling the bill, the one in charge will tell you those exact words:
– “I am sorry but it’s a company card, I cannot tip you”
Dude – you just each had a 80€ meal without spending a cent, and now you are telling me that I worked my ass of for all of you and you cannot even collect some coins between the participants to reach a decent tip! That is what you really would like to say, but no. As the good waiter you are, you smile and just say a disappointed don’t worry about it.
10. The “I-don’t-remember-what-I-ordered” table
This category is, unluckily, quite common. Most of the time you didn’t even took the order because too busy serving someone else, probably from one of the previous category.
You hear the bell ringing from the kitchen, you run there and you see quite some plates in front of you. Yes because this category is quite subtle. Could be too easy if they were only two but no, they are usually 4 up. They ordered every possible different things at the same time but nothing is to share. Seeing the first plate in front of you, you recognize immediately every waiters worst enemy: the soup, most possible, still bubbling because they especially request it very hot.
You carry as many plates as humanly possible, you finally reach the table and start asking who ordered what and zap, you see a rare form of youth alzheimer striking the whole table. At this moment they are so confused that they cannot even remember their own name.
You smile and repeat some of the plates you are holding, trying to disguise the pain inflicted by the scorching soup plate, while you feel the carriage getting heavier and heavier.
Finally someone in the table remember just one ingredient but, for a weird twist of fate, it is contained in all the dishes.
It is most likely that at the end of the dinner they will turn into the next category.
11. The split bill table
Usually composed by non less than 6 person, after you already brought them the check, they will ask you to pay separately. You explain them that it is not possible and it is even specified in the menu. They insist again and, moved by compassion you offer them to divide the bill in equal parts. Not good enough. They are firmly convinced to pay each one his single order, without willing of checking the bill and make their own calculation.
Probably is your first time encountering this species and since it is not too busy anymore you think “what the heck?! Cannot be too hard to do it”
You knot and start taking notes on who had what. Also here no one will remember a thing. It will probably take 10 minutes to write down all the food they had and link it to the orderer but it doesn’t end here: they also shared a bottle of wine. And you are witnessing the argue between what once was a group of old time friend breaking up because John Doe drank one glass more than the others, but not willing to pay extra.
A subcategory is the one that noted all the prices down and know exactly what has to pay each one of them, pretending to divide whatever they shared down to thousandth.
12. The awkward couple
This final section can also be divided in two.
First we have the nice couple. Usually fresh, young and came out for a romantic dinner when, most of the time, a room should be more proper. They sit and stare at each other eyes for most of the time. You are almost afraid of interrupting them staring the void but it’s what you have to do. They didn’t even realize that you were there or the menu on the table. It will take them at least half an hour to order, completely lost on each other, being hand in hand on the table, even when you have to serve the plates, making it impossible.
Beware because this all “hearts-flowers-and-rainbows” couple, after a couple of glass of wine, will lose the control and the consciousness of being surrounded by other clients.
It is like the last drop of wine they had gave start to mating season and, as in the animal kingdom, it also has its dance.
It all begins with one, most commonly the male, switching to the seat beside the partner.
Second step, they look again in each other eyes but, this time, without any obstacle between them.
Third step, they blindly find each other hand followed by a calm and gentle hug.
Fourth step, they start in what it cannot be considered making out, due to the intensity and the energy involved. A most proper phrase to define it could be eat each other face.
Hopefully and thankfully after half an hour of step four, they realize that the best decision could be to get the check as quickly as possible and try to reach home before the wave of passion will completely drown them. But it is not always that the case and you, embarrassed, you have to go there and politely stop what could possibly evolve into a b-movie scene.
The other part of this section is the awkward couple in the unpleasant meaning of the word.
This is usually a long time couple that, probably just started arguing when they locked their apartment’s door to reach the restaurant and still the case is not closed.
You reach that table and there is so much tension that you can cut it with a butter knife.
This stress makes serving their table hard. You watch them eating and not talking for the whole dinner, becoming increasingly afraid of giving them those sharp and pointy steak knife.
Near the table not even a fly is considering to pass by. But still you have to do it regularly.
Hopefully everything will end up fine, or just with minor injuries, but no casualties. Until you don’t see that familiar face in the first page of the newspaper that vaguely reminds you someone that probably you served a while ago.
We hope you enjoyed reading it.
Make sure you look professional by keeping your uniform nice and tidy. It is really important to keep in mind that as a waiter, you are the face of your restaurant. In order to do that, sometimes you need to forget what is going on in your private life and try not to bring your problems with you to work. Keep up with your personal hygiene, look sharp, subtle make-up for the waitresses and freshly trimmed beards for the men are a big plus.
2. Be nice and kind
Greet your guests with a big smile, and try to keep smiling throughout the evening, even during the most stressful times. This gives your customers the impression that they are welcome, that everything is fine and that they have nothing to worry about. At the same time, try to understand your guests and what they need. Some guests like to be talked to whereas others want peace and quiet while they order. Keep this in mind and try to match their needs. This becomes truly challenging when your guests are unpleasant or rude, bringing us straight to the next point.
3. Treat everyone equally
This one is probably the hardest one. It is really easy to deal with good and polite customers but, unluckily, these are not the only kinds of guests to enter your restaurant. You have to rely on your own self-control to stay calm and maintain a positive attitude. If you succeed, you will provide a good service even to the most nasty customer, who might reward your hard work with a bonus in the form of a tip.
4. Be a storyteller
Although this point can vary depending on different factors, including what kind of restaurant you are part of, you can improve the experience of yours guests by telling the story of both your restaurant and the food they eat. Explaining where the food comes from, how it’s made and other small anecdotes can be part of what makes it a memorable dining experience. You can strengthen your service with small facts about the food, the wine or history about the restaurant. Again, it is important to read the situation and evaluate what your customers would find interesting to hear about. If asked, you can also talk about yourself, answering their questions, but always keep in mind that they came to have a comfortable and relaxed experience – do not reflect onto them your stress or problems! These small talks can contribute to the overall environment for the clients, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
5. Anticipate the needs
Try to read all the different situations and do not wait for your guest to ask you. If you see that they finished their drinks, approach the table and ask if they need some more. After a few bites, ask them how their food is. Try and be smart about how and when you approach your guests – if a couple is having a romantic candlelit dinner, it is more likely that they want to be left alone to focus on each other rather than the waiter. A bigger group of friends may be more likely to listen to small talk.
6. Sharing is caring
If customers are coming to your restaurant, especially if it’s not for the first time, it is doubtful that they do it only for the service or the food. It is a combination of the varied elements that makes the overall experience memorable. Even though it may feel like a punch to the stomach to share your hard-earned tips with your colleagues, it creates a good atmosphere amongst the staff. You never know when you are about to have a bad day, and good colleagues (who like you) are more likely to help you get through your shift.
7. Something to keep in mind
We would like to give you a couple of guidelines that can sum up basically all of the above.
First, try to put yourself in the shoes of your guests. Understand their frustrations, their excitement. Think about what it takes to create a good environment to dine in from their perspective and how you would like to be treated.
Secondly, go the extra mile for your customer. They will notice the effort and reward you for making their night special. If you do something out of the ordinary for them, meeting their needs and guiding them through their dining experience, they will most likely express their gratitude by giving you tips.
It’s a common belief that the life of a restaurant is in the hands of the chef behind the stove. And while the chef’s abilities to create tasty gastronomic goods are a vital part of any place that serves food, there is another position in the restaurant that holds the same amount of responsibilities, and is equally responsible for its success – namely the restaurant manager.
Whereas the chef is mostly occupied with what happens behind-the-scenes and in the kitchen, the responsibilities of the restaurant manager are different. This person is tasked with looking into every single aspect of the day-to-day operations – from marketing the restaurant, to the quality of the food.
Managers need to work hand in hand with chefs to come up with the right formula to bring in guests. According to Zea Proukou, these are the most important traits for a successful restaurant manager to have.
1. Profitable Thinking
The ultimate goal of a restaurant manager is to make profit for the restaurant and its’ owners. No one likes to be the one who has to consider price and profitability in every new dish or drink, but a good restaurant manager is painfully aware of the components of his products. At the same time, it is equally important that the manager keeps in mind that the most valuable resource in the restaurant is in fact the customers.
Without them, a business has no reason to exist, and a manager should be conscious of it. Sometimes making a calculated decision to not prioritize profit can fix an unpleasant situation or provide value to the customer that ensures he comes back for another visit. A satisfied customer will come again and/or recommend it to friends, family, coworkers. Nowadays, most restaurants are not just selling meals but a whole experience. Creating the atmosphere, storytelling and staging up a show for the clients can make a difference between a bad restaurant and a successful one.
2. Physical Stamina
The best managers can stay on their feet all day long. Customers may not think about it, but being a manager in a busy restaurant can be both mentally and physically taxing. Healthy habits are required to be able to run around a restaurant daily and make sure that everyone provides great service. Sure, there’s no need to be a body-builder – but standing on your feet (almost) all day is different from a regular office job where you sit comfortable on your blue ergonomic chair from nine to five. Furthermore, during the high season, it can be mentally draining.
For a manager, it is really important to know and recognize his own limits, paying attention to the different signals that his mind is sending, avoiding a breakdown. In order to reach a better mindfulness of himself, a manager should find time for some physical activity. Besides a good workout, physical activity will act as a mental reset and a break from the hassle and stress of the restaurant. Meditation can also be a good method, not only to distract from the stress of the workplace, but also increasing self-awareness. A good rule to keep in mind is “the more you work with your mind, the less you work with your legs!”.
It’s tiring in a lot of ways. Certainly it’s physically draining, because when it’s hectic you run, run, run. I used to actually use a pedometer on my busier shifts just to see. You walk a lot, and blow through shoes. I used to work at a place where we would also have crazy parties and we’d be hoisting trays and plates, people were always blown away by how many plates I can carry on my arms. I’m like, “I’ve got ten years under my belt, guys. My right arm is super strong.”
Marie, restaurant manager in New York.
3. Thinking on your feet
No matter how good you are at your job, there will always be challenges and unexpected issues when you work in the service industry. When dealing with people on a daily basis, you can never completely guard yourself against all possible scenarios. For this reason, the ability to think on your feet and react accordingly is exceptionally important for a restaurant manager. He is the face of the restaurant and has to deal with all customer related issues. Besides customer complaints, his work also extends to other management related tasks such as marketing, logistics and managing his staff.
Furthermore, a manager has to be able to adapt to the different situations and challenges that he faces every day. Most of the time, similar scenarios have different solutions, and the signals are not always clear, especially for the inexperienced. Composure and the ability to keep cool in stressful situations are traits that cannot be underestimated in a restaurant manager. It is important to remember as much as possible about the people you are serving. Some people have special needs or requests, while some menus can be tricky to remember. Some customers like to be talked to, others want to be left alone – it is up to the waiter or manager to recognize the difference.
In this case, the best way to train your skills, is just work. Experience and dedication to give a great service to the clients is what will make the difference.
4. Customer service savviness
The restaurant business is full of surprises and difficult, annoying customers. Some of them may have dietary concerns like allergies. Some may need a place to hold their lunch meetings at the last minute. A large group made a reservation that can barely fit in any of the dining areas. Or a group of people comes in 2 minutes before closing and orders the longest item to cook that’s available on the menu. All these can rattle an inexperienced manager.
For these reasons, a good manager needs to have the skills to read people. Not only clients, but also staff members, in order to create an environment that that encourages good service and a warm atmosphere. He knows that happy and collaborative staff can deliver a great service. One of the challenges of being a manager is also the mediation. While unsatisfied consumers can be turned around using a mix of psychology, charm and, if possible, something on the house, impartial mediation and talkative skills will maintain a good working environment even when tension arise, especially in stressful situations. As a leader, he must lead by example, understand the concerns of his staff and help them out as much as possible. Working in the restaurant industry can be mentally draining, and it’s important to have a manager who can assemble the troops and motivate his employees to produce their best work. It is really important, especially for a manager, to be able and willing to go the extra mile for both clients and colleagues.
5. Strong interpersonal skills
A tired wait staff and a super stressed kitchen crew are common things that a manager faces on a daily basis. He must have the right personality to counter and balance these challenges. He must be able to combine a pleasant way of talking to the staff with a results-driven approach to the business. When chaos happens, he must have the skill to gather everyone to work as a team, while simultaneously smiling and appearing to have everything under control in the eyes of the customer. Communication and collaboration are the most powerful weapons to restaurant staff.
6. The Golden Skill
The hospitality industry is both challenging and stressful. Decisions have to be made in a short amount of time, all the while trying to please as many people as possible. Therefore, a manager must be able to exploit all the skills mentioned above, pushing himself to the limit and raising the bar. To make everything easier for everyone, a restaurant manager must be armed with common sense. Being a master of the rational art will ease everyone else’s job – and that is the true goal of the restaurant manager.
Mediate with unsatisfied customers, recognizing the problems before they will become too hard to handle, not only with the patrons but also between the staff and try to fix aspects of the service are only few of the daily challenges that a restaurant manager have to face on a daily base and being rational and logical will give the solution to a many, if not all, of the problems.
Even though most of us understand what it is and why loyalty is important, there are still many companies that don’t succeed in getting the best out of their customers. Loyal customers can be the definitive difference between success and failure for your company – not only do they spend more money in your store than the average customer, they will also recommend your company to their network of friends and family and become a marketing channel by themselves. It will always be cheaper and more profitable to have loyal customers than first-time visitors, and in fact research claims that loyal customers, throughout their lifetime, can earn your company 10 times more. We’ve made a list of a few easy tips to keep in mind when dealing with your customers.
”Customer satisfaction is worthless. Customer loyalty is priceless” – Jeffret Gitomer
1. Know your customers!
If you don’t know who your customers are, you will never be able to provide the value they require to become loyal customers. Not greeting a returning customer with the recognition they expect will be a missed opportunity to make them feel valued. We all know the feeling – it sucks when someone doesn’t remember your name, and you feel like you haven’t made an impression. If you don’t learn to appreciate these customers, your competitors will happily take over. Statistics show that only about 4% of your customers will actually tell you why they are upset – the rest switch companies without telling you, and are lost. This should illustrate how important it is to listen to the needs of your customers.
Make use of a database. Depending on the type of business you run, there are countless ways to do so. Some companies can make use of CRM (Customer Relationshop Management) tools that keep track of your customers sales data, others can benefits from a modern POS (Point Of Sale) system that gives access to sales data right at your fingertips. For example, large hotel chains will know exactly when you last visited, what you purchased, your room preferences and your allergies, thus allowing them to personalize your experience and creating more value than initially provided by the hotel room.
”Make a customer, not a sale” – Katherine Barchetti
2. Spoil your customers and give them a REASON to be loyal!
Once you know who your customers are and have access to contact information and sales data, you can improve the customer experience in countless ways. Create targeted campaigns for those customers that have visited your business several times, give a discount on the 10th visit or send them important information directly. There is most likely 100 companies who can do almost the same as you do, so make sure to do something your competitors don’t and put it in the extra effort. Is the customer on your website for the first time? Offer them free delivery of their purchase. Did someone buy a pair of shoes that didn’t live up to expectations? Give them a pair of shoelaces for free. While these all represent costs for your business, they should rather be regarded as an investment in the future. It is very easy to forget to go the extra mile when sales and business today revolves around speed and efficiency, but the small things are what can set your business apart from the rest. It is important to motivate the customer to keep coming back to YOUR store. The ’extra mile’ is very different depending on the business you operate and the type of customers you have. For some, a smile might be enough whereas others appreciate status and benefits (for example, bonus cards and airline memberships). Try and put yourself in your customers shoes and think about what they would appreciate.
Remember that loyal and satisfied customers will recommend your business to their friends and network, so even though you spent money on a free cup of coffee, the 4 friends they bring next time will quickly make up for the cost. Happy customers are without a doubt your most efficient and cheap form of advertising you can get for your business. In a world where marketing and paid advertisements have gotten out of control, personal experiences and recommendations are becoming increasingly valuable.
3. Technology is important, but service is more important
Technological innovations and new, smart solutions have opened the door for new communication channels and with them, the opportunity to create customer loyalty. However, it is crucial to keep in mind that technology is simply a tool, and one that is easy to hide behind. As has always been the case, a good customer experience is dependant on good service and the value you provide for your customers. Technological advancements, like modern, smart POS systems that give you immediate access to data, only make it easier to provide good service – they don’t create results and loyal customers in themselves, unless you learn how to use them properly. Take advantage of the data available to you, but don’t assume the job is done just by recording data in itself.
”If you make a sale, you can make a living. If you make an investment of time and good service in a customer, you can make a fortune” – Jim Rohn.
4. Train staff and make it EASY to provide good service!
Make sure there is nothing holding your employees back when it comes to providing good service. Avoid overly complicated sales systems and instead use something your staff knows how to use to avoid them standing around and wasting time in front of the cash-register during a sale. Your employees will mostly know how to provide a high level of service, but many are held back by complicated routines and other wasteful activities that don’t add value to the customer experience or simply because they are not given the trust and freedom required to make their own decisions.
It may sound simple, but in order to create a bond with your customer, your employees must be able to act like human beings and have their personality shine through. For this to happen, they must be allowed to make decisions based on the needs and demands of the individual customer rather than operate based on a fixed routine. We are all customers at some point, and most employees are perfectly able to understand the problems your customers are facing. With a greater understanding, they are also able to serve the customer better. A tablet POS is both faster and cheaper than traditional POS systems, and are also mobile and can be moved around so you can meet your customers on their terms rather than always at a fixed counter. In the end, it comes down to freeing up your employees time so they in turn can spend their time creating a memorable customer experience.
Unfortunately it is not rare today to see marketing take the center stage while service is forgotten at the waist side. Yes, it is extremely important to market yourself and get customers through the front door, but it is the service, support and overall customer experience that makes them come back for another visit. According to Accenture, 83% of customers who switched to a competitor feel that better support was a decisive factor in their decision. Stop viewing service as a cost, and start seeing it as an investment in the future.
Ever craved takeout from a restaurant you’ve heard good things about, only to find out they don’t have a menu online? Now you have to drag yourself out of your comfortable couch, sit down at a table, interact with waiters and wait for the food. Like that’s ever gonna happen on your lazy Sunday. Much more likely is it that you’ll opt for a takeaway platform and grab the first Indian that delivers within an hour.
The idea of Omnichannel is to make it as easy as possible for your customer to reach out to you where and when it suits them – at any time, at any device, and from anywhere. Not to forget that the experience your business provides to your potential customers is smooth and coherent no matter the channel, platform or device.
The customer should be able to visit your website and check the prices from their smartphone. Later on when entering your website from their tablet, the experience should be the same. It’s all about making it a consistent journey.
Restaurants communicating through one or two channels (usually physically and via the phone) are becoming rare species. The old school way of using a phone has for a long time been the primary communication channel of the hospitality industry, but when everybody is constantly connected, there is a demand for multi-channel communication. We all as consumers want what’s easiest for us – whether it is to order from our phone or laptop, we will not order from the places that are not where we expect them to be.
But being present on all devices is not just all what the omnichannel concept entails. Starbucks for instance is a interaction-leader of the hospitality industry – they interact with customers on different levels. An example of one of their channels is their Starbucks reward app, an app where you get a free reward card that you can use whenever you indulge in pumpkin spice latte or munch a double chocolate brownie.
The customers can check the balance on their cards on the phone, website, in-store or on the app. Additionally any change of balance on the card will be updated immediately on every channel. So instead of having a physical card, which is much more likely to get lost or forgotten at home, the customers have a digital card on their phone or any other device, so the card is always accessible. Accessibility is really the keyword here – making your products or services accessible to people is especially essential in an industry such as hospitality, where the difference between products are often smaller than in other industries.
The American chain restaurant Chipotle is another great example on how a successful creating an omnichannel experience can be. A common, yet very frustrating problem amongst online ordering systems and takeaways in general is that sometimes, restaurants don’t receive the customers order.
Chipotle on the other hand has managed to create a very effective online ordering system, which allows you to place an order from wherever you are. Simply sign up for an account on their app, and you can start ordering. The app allows you to save your favorite meals, so you don’t have to spend time on finding the same order again next time your stomach yells for Chipotle.
Omnichannel is a way to offer better service for the customers when, where and how they want it. Constant connectivity has created impatient consumers that expect to have access to whatever they want, wherever they want, whenever they want.
Omnichannel provides a chance for the business to create more value for the customer, and especially in high-competition industries providing additional value can be what creates your success.
All companies can make a product that looks like the competitors’. Standing out is difficult – but using the omnichannel approach is one way to make sure you’re seen amongst the masses.
As a final example to really understand how omnichannel works in the hospitality business, we have Domino’s Pizza, that is a well-known chain restaurant, and has a lot of competitors, but within the Omnichannel experience they are the strongest amongst their rivals. At Domino’s Pizza the customer has 5 different options when ordering a pizza.
Orders can be done from a tablet, or a smartphone. The customer can order a pizza online from their computer, or call Domino’s Pizza and order something. And lastly the customer can pay the store a visit and place an order physically.
Paul Francis, head of ecommerce at Domino’s, says, ”Omnichannel is about delivering the same customer experience via any channel the customer chooses. The ordered pizza needs to taste, look and smell the same whether it was ordered online, through an app or in-store. ”
For an omnichannel experience to be good it has to be strategic. It’s not enough just to implement several interaction channels between your customers and your business. It has to be of value meaning that it would make things easier for your customers. Lets say you own a barbershop and the majority of your customers are 60+, which are not good with technology. Then it’s not much of value for them to have the option of online bookings, when it’s much easier for them to just call in and schedule an appointment. Or perhaps you own a restaurant in an area where people don’t prefer delivery, and then the delivery should not be an important factor in your omnichannel strategy.
Whether you own a coffee shop, restaurant, hair salon etc. it is essential to segment your audience, and get to know your customers better. How do they find the experience starting from purchase to use of the product? How do the customers interact online and in-store? Data of customer buying behavior is the key ingredient of forming the Omnichannel structure of your business.
By Alexander Sund-Nielsen
Point of sale (POS) systems have long been an important part of your business – they keep track of transactions and allow you to complete a sale. However, POS systems have made huge leaps over the last few decades, and every business owner owes it to themselves to seriously consider the value-creating potential offered by modern POS solutions today, which extend much further than simply handling transactions. When you’ve got no one to compete against, it’s easy to win. Without competition, there can only be one winner of a 100-meter sprint. Add another sprinter to the race, and it provides an incentive to train, improve your skills and go the extra mile in order to finish first. While this may seem very obvious, the same rules apply to businesses. With growing competition, it becomes harder and harder for your business to stand out and create the value that ensures your customers continue to choose your business over your competitors. Modern technology and its developments are continuously providing consumers with opportunities to communicate across geographical and cultural boundaries, exchange information, and essentially make more educated and informed decisions regarding their purchasing behaviour. Power has, to a large degree, shifted into the hands of the consumer. Making your business stand out in a sea of competitors (who on the surface look very similar to you) is increasingly difficult – customers today want to buy what they want, when they want it and wherever they want it.
So what happens next? Marketing research has discussed the transition as a move from a goods-dominant logic to one that revolves around services. If product A is similar to product B, which is barely different in appearance and price to product C, how do consumers navigate the ever-growing ocean of choices? It becomes a question of offering your customers value above-and-beyond what is expected of the initial transaction. Consumers start to look for the company that provides them the best support in case something goes wrong, or provides benefits to their daily life (such as ”all X customers get a 15% discount on gym membership!”). Consumers want to feel special and wanted, and providing good service through personal interaction has become a crucial part of keeping them satisfied.
Point of sale or point of service?
What does any of this have to do with POS? POS solutions have made huge leaps in the past few decades, evolving on par with other technologies towards more simple and mobile solutions. The days of the old-school mechanical cash register whose main purpose was to simply hold the money and prevent theft, are long gone. Business-owners and entrepreneurs started to realize the potential in POS systems, and functions such as keeping track of sales transactions and automation of tasks started to make life easier for business-owners. Fast-forward a few decades, and we’re at the cusp of moving in to the next generation of POS as new companies are, once again, starting to take advantage of technological advancements in the form of tablet and app solutions and cloud technology. This has a large variety of noticeable ramifications for a business – partly because the possibility of running everything through tablets and apps have made investment into expensive hardware solutions unnecessary and instead replaced them with affordable license fees, and partly because it provides businesses the means to deliver higher quality service through the functions POS systems offer today. Today’s customers embrace technology just as rapidly as they emerge, and they expect the businesses they shop from to do the same. A flexible POS system that allows businesses to cater to the individual needs and requirements of their customers will become a cornerstone of business strategy in just the next few years for companies in direct contact with their customers.
These mobile POS solutions (MPOS) use the cloud to synchronize information and financial data in real-time, which in turn provide managers with invaluable insight when it comes to making smarter business decisions. While the benefits offered by MPOS systems vary from competitor to competitor, there are some general tendencies that dominate the market. Tablets can be removed and used as you walk around your store, meaning you can meet your customers where they are. When there are updates to the software, they can be pushed straight to your tablet quickly and for free without any major installation required because it only requires you to update the app. Furthermore, integrations with 3rd party software and cloud technology gives you access to vital business data from wherever you are in the world, allowing you to manage several crucial parts of your business in one place, such as customer relationship management, keeping stock of inventory or your accounting. Cloud technology even ensures that you don’t lose business if the internet goes down because transactions can be saved offline. With payment solutions taking a huge leap forward over the last 5 years in the form mobile payments, MPOS systems simply make it easier and quicker to accept a larger selection of payment types. Essentially, the new wave of POS solutions are capitalizing on the opportunities brought on by the increasingly dominant omnichannel perspective – that is, providing a connected and meaningful customer journey, from pre-sale to post-sale. From knowing your customers favourite order, to providing a seamless mobile experience that doesn’t even require them to use their wallet – the possibilities for development and further advancements within this space are endless, to the benefit of both business-owners and the end-consumer.
Point of sale is dead. It represents an outdated look on business management, one that simply doesn’t hold up in today’s competitive world if you want to stand out from your competitors. Sale today extends way beyond the financial transaction. A more fair way to view the software required to complete a transaction today would be Point of Service, precisely because these solutions provide you the tools to deliver an improved service experience. You can move around with the customer, the software takes care of boring business functions and time-consuming organizational tasks that free up your time, increasing your face-time with the customer – where value is actually created. To put it shortly, MPOS makes your life as a business owner easier and cheaper, while delivering more value to the customer in the end. There is little doubt that MPOS solutions will take up a larger slice of the POS landscape in the future, even for larger enterprise businesses. The benefits are immediate, and the investment small.