As a consultant, editor and speaker I visit a lot of clubs and talk to a lot of club managers. And every one of them is looking for an edge. A way to improve their business, a way to do things better.
When I ask them what their point of difference is from their competitors, they routinely tell me it’s their superior customer service. In fact, I have yet to come across a club that has told me they have poor customer service.
However, I haven’t come across any of that “superior” customer service in my visits. Sure, it’s OK most of the time and sometimes good, (especially if I am walking around with the CEO), but it’s not exceptional, not memorable and definitely not superior. It’s just the basic level of service I would expect.
A few weeks ago, I met an Olympic gold medallist. She said she was not a natural athlete, so she had to work harder and train longer than her competitors. She was a great believer in always looking for the one percent advantage, and how all those little “one percenters” can build up to a big payoff. She was right. Good marketing, and good customer service, is all about improvements by increments.
It’s obvious that we all recognise how important customer service is, and we know customers remember people over product. So I’ve put together a few suggestions – some “one percenters” – that actually might help to make customers service your point of difference, get your members and guests more engaged and ultimately, improve your business.
- Train every employee to sell
This might take a bit of effort and training to activate, but imagine what could happen if your door person recommends your bistro, your dining staff recommend a current promotion and your gaming attendants are promoting your rewards programs? And don’t forget about upselling at your cafe and dining outlet. “Would you like the cake of the day with that?” “We’ve just got some fresh baked muffins in. Would you like to try one?” McDonalds didn’t introduce the “Would you like fries with that?” line for nothing.
- Have more signs of “welcome” at your entrance.
Most entrance’s and foyers are overloaded with rules of what you can’t wear, do or say; why you can’t enter and how the club can pretty much kick you out if they want to. Not a great first impression. It would be a nice change to counter balance those with some more welcoming signs and features.
- Get your “greeter” out from behind the desk
See point 2. A well-presented, professional who greets members and guests with a smile, a welcome to your club and a how can I help you, would be a breath of fresh air in a lot of venues. Don’t forget, the appearance of your employees makes up 55% of the message that leads your customers to form an impression of your business. First impressions genuinely do count.
- Invoke the 3m radius rule
This is where all management and staff must acknowledge and greet, including fellow employees, anyone who are within 3 metres. It could be a smile, a nod of the head or a few casual words – but acknowledge those around you. No one likes to be ignored, but we all like to feel appreciated and welcome.
- Make every staff member responsible for the cleanliness of your business
Make it every employees responsibility, from the CEO down, to pick up rubbish if they see it, clear plates and glasses, push in and straighten chairs as they walk past, tidy brochures etc. It’s part of the Disney philosophy and it works. And don’t forget cleanliness is a major attraction factor, especially with female customers.
- Ask your best employees how you can improve your business and their contribution to it.
Acknowledge them, act on their suggestions where possible or practical and reward them for reaching agreed set goals.
- Get and use customers email addresses and mobile numbers (SMS)
You can have the best promotions, food, entertainment and offers around, but if your members don’t know about it, what does it matter? Don’t forget to segment those messages and deliver relevant information to different audiences. What might interest a 3o year old male member just won’t resonate with your 6o plus female gamer. It’s called message to market – but so few clubs do it and do it well.
- Send a personally written welcome letter, and an offer to return, to every new carded player as they come into your system.
And make sure you do it within two days. Let’s face it, gaming is still your major revenue driver and building this customer base is going to have an impact on your bottom line. Why wait for weeks or even months until they qualify for rewards? This could be a VIP in the making, so let them know they are welcome at your club now. If they are serious gamers, they probably play at another five or so venues, so by acknowledging them and rewarding them early, you’ll stand out from the crowd.
- Have either your Gaming Manager or CEO dine with a small group of VIP Players one night a week (or fortnight, depending on the size of your club).
Everyone likes to feel special and appreciated. I know one GM who does this and credits it as being the best loyalty builder he’s ever seen.
- Give your VIP Players the CEO’s and Gaming Managers mobile number for 24/7 access
See point 9. You can use a specifically designated phone or number if you like – but you’ll probably be surprised how few calls you’ll get. It’s the fact that you’ve shown trust and care that is important to this small number of people who are the backbone of your business.
- Increase the number of winners in your gaming promotions
Sure, we all know the value of the big lure, the excitement of selling the sizzle and not the steak, but when it comes to gaming prizes, we’re really limited in what we can offer. Make sure your promotional budget is well directed towards those members who matter. Instead of giving away a $10,000 prize in a weekly Members draw, how about 100 prizes of $100 value back to your gamers? Which do you think would have more impact on your bottom line?
- Incorporate desired customer service actions into written Standard Operating Procedures
Don’t just talk about it, make your desired customer service actions part of your written procedures and KPI’s.
So, there you have it – a few ideas that could help build your customer service and members engagement. Sure, they all sound simple, but that doesn’t mean they are necessarily easy. You’ll never know until you try.
Article by Linda Joannides, Your Marketing Mentor and Editor of The Drop