We’re just days away from the first step in returning the UK to some semblance of order. On 12th April we will once again be able to visit a shop, meet up with some friends (outside) for something to eat and stay in accommodation on something that almost resembles a holiday.
We’ve been cooped up, bored, starved of company and human interaction on and off for over a year. We’ve cooked all our own meals (or occasionally have someone deliver them a little bit cold). We’ve had boxes and boxes delivered at random times, containing incorrectly sized clothes and products that weren’t quite as amazing as they looked online.
But now freedom is on the horizon, the people are ready. Demand is pent up, we’ve missed the friendly faces, the customer service, the tactile experience and the taste of a meal prepared by a professional. For Hotels & Accommodation, we’ve seen bookings go through the roof, restaurants are getting booked up and stores are getting stocked and ready for the customers on 12th April.
So how can you make the most of this spike and, crucially, continue to benefit from it long after it settles down?
Thing You Should Do
DO: Capture Everyone
The first thing you need to ensure you’re doing is capturing the information of every single person through your doors. Restaurants & accommodation can do this easily with reservations, but make sure you ask them to opt in and give them a great reason to sign up. This includes the people you can’t accommodate too - if you’re full, take the details and ask if you can send them updates, late availability or special offers. If you’re a store, ask your customers to sign up at the checkout, use the in store wifi, ask them to like your page on Facebook or Instagram, just do what you can to capture the customer’s details or connect with them in some way.
This is absolutely vital because so many businesses just assume people will remember them and come back. There are so many options out there, so many places people haven’t tried for months, it could be a long time before they come back, so you need to keep communicating with them and reminding them about the great experience they had.
Which leads to…
DO: Give a Great Experience
If experience is what we’ve all been missing, we’d best make sure we remind people of how fantastic the in-person interaction can be. Surly, unhelpful shop assistants and grumpy servers are not what we need, they’ll send everyone back home. We want fantastic customer service, delightful interactions, human engagement that reminds people what was amazing about the ‘offline’ experience. Think about how you can enhance that experience, ways you can add more ‘personality’ to your venue and further underline the benefits of the customers’ visit.
Then ask how things were or if there’s anything else you can do to help, and then make sure you listen to the answer and solve any problems before your customer leaves - which will help with the next point...
DO: Ask for Reviews
Reviews are one of the most important and valuable things a small business can get and with all these extra people coming through, you have a massive opportunity to get those reviews up to date and increased in volume. Make sure you explain why it matters, the impact on your business those reviews have and how much you appreciate them. Respond to them too, thank people for their feedback, promise to action any constructive criticism and make them feel good about supporting your business.
If you’re thinking; “But what if I get a bad review.” - please see the previous point and the next one!
Don’t Do These
DON’T Over Subscribe
It might be tempting after the past year to try to turn the tables a bit faster, to squeeze in a few more people, to take more orders than you can fulfil. This might be great for that initial spike, it’ll keep the till ringing into May, but ultimately it will hurt your brand. People will walk away with a less than great experience and worse still, you’ll come across as trying to take advantage of the situation, rather than focussing on giving people the best possible time. This risks bad word of mouth or negative reviews, so make sure you only take in as many people as you can safely provide amazing service to. Remember, you and your team could be a little rusty after the past few months so give everyone the chance to settle back in before ramping up the pressure!
DON’T Assume they’ll come back
People are forgetful and as time goes by we will fall back on old habits. We might start out keen to support local retail or hospitality, but come Summer, the memory will start to fade. You need to continue to communicate with people, sending them meaningful messages, offers and inspiration following their visit. Keep your social channels up to date, post inspiring images and make sure you’re front of mind as soon as they’re thinking about where to go next.
DON’T wait for things to settle down before you start marketing
We see this all the time, in fact, we wrote about the risks of waiting for referrals to dry up just last week. Businesses have a great stream of new leads or customers, things are flying, until they aren’t. Then when tables are empty, the shop floor is barron or bedrooms are vacant, they look to marketing to ramp up that demand.
You need to keep the marketing process going constantly. That doesn’t mean paid for advertising when you’re at 100% capacity, but it’s all about constant communication. If you’re full, tell people, if you have a late availability, let people know. Plan your initiatives for the summer now, think about your promotions, make sure you’re best placed to be able to switch on the ‘tap’ as soon as you need to.
DO Think Like Your Customer
This is the single most important piece of advice we can offer. When you get into the head of your customer, you’ll be able to predict where to find them, you’ll know how to talk to them and you’ll know exactly what they expect from their visit.
If you’re not 100% sure how to go about this, let me point you in the direction of our Think Like Your Customer eBook (it’s FREE!) which will genuinely help you with the process of delivering on the expectation of your customers and ensure you have a steady stream of them coming well into the future.