With the buzz surrounding the 2012 Olympic Games reaching fever pitch in the UK and an anticipated 11 million visitors due to descend on the capital city, many organisations will be carefully considering how they can manage or enhance their customer experience for the duration of the event for maximum benefit. However, without the right staff and staff management, a solid customer service strategy, and a way to listen to what customers really want, these organisations are probably risking customer loyalty in the longer term.
The good news is that the pitfalls can easily be avoided by good forward planning and putting some thought into how your location dynamic will change throughout the Games. To start the process here are my top five tips on how to satisfy customers during this exciting period, learned from working with leading retailers and hospitality organisations over the past few years.
Tip #1 – Hire people who like people
Many brands are going to have to rely on temporary staff over the Olympic period, as regular team members take holidays and extended opening hours result in needing additional resources.
We often see customer satisfaction dip when organisations are reliant on temporary staff who care less about customers and the success of the company, and may be less customer-focussed (school holidays and Christmas being notable examples).
Be as stringent in your hiring practices for temporary staff as you would for permanent staff – ensure that you are getting people who are naturally inclined to be customer-focussed, and a lot of the potential issues will look after themselves.
Tip #2 – Be thoughtful about your staffing rotations
Think about it, when your manager or deputy manager takes the day off, or when you lack experienced team members in your location, it’s ultimately the customer that suffers.
At Empathica, we see this happen a lot with our clients. We have worked with several organisations to identify weak spots during their trading week (Sundays are chief culprits here!) and improve senior staff cover in locations. As a result, we’ve seen massive improvements in customer satisfaction levels through our Customer Experience Management programmes.
Make sure your best and most important people are spread across the week and don’t leave inexperienced staff to cope alone.
Tip #3 – Let your staff have fun
It’s simple – happy staff lead to happy customers. We have seen on many occasions that one of the key predictors of whether a customer will enjoy their experience – and subsequently actively advocate for a brand – is whether they perceived the team to be enjoying their jobs while they were in the location.
Allow your staff flexibility to get into the spirit of the Olympics, and participate appropriately in the major events, and customers will notice the positive atmosphere and respond accordingly.
Tip #4 – Focus on your customers
This seems like a truism, but is worth mentioning. The influx of thousands of Olympic ticket holders from across the globe is likely to deliver unusual demand patterns and a whole heap of associated logistical challenges. When facing this type of challenge, it’s not unusual to observe organisations turning inwards and focussing on things they feel better equipped to manage: out of stock items, wastage, shrinkage…
But you cannot lose sight of the most important measures: including how your customers feel.
To succeed at delivering a great customer experience, you need to understand what your customers want and focus on delivering it. If you do have a Customer Experience Management programme, make sure you know what your key drivers of customer advocacy are, use the programme to listen to what customers are saying, and reinforce great behaviours every day.
Tip #5 – Think about the tourists…and what they can teach you about your customers!
London in particular will have thousands of visitors from many different countries for the duration of the games. I’ve seen organisations planning extra signage in their locations here because they are uncertain that new customers will find their way to what they want; or simplifying their menus to make the most popular items easier to find; or training their teams to be extra helpful in case they spot customers looking confused while in locations.
If you are doing any of these things, great! Thinking about your customer experience through the eyes of the customer is a positive thing. But one question: why did you wait for the Olympics to do it? Imagine if you’d made these changes a year ago. How many more satisfied, loyal customers would you have spending more with you, and telling their friends to visit you?