5* ways to give your customers the luxury experience Tamara Luzajic September 2, 2014 International It’s easy to state that businesses should be going the extra mile to please their customers, but who sets the benchmark? When you’re unsure of what people expect and what’s considered as ‘going above and beyond’, it can be hard to gauge what the right approach for your business is. Thinking holistically about customer service can give you an insight away from the mainstream way of conducting service. When it comes to customer service, there’s nothing quite like the hospitality industry. Thriving on repeat business and providing an unbeatable standard to set them apart; customer service is the make or break element of many restaurants and hotels. If you want to provide the ultimate luxury service, there are many lessons to be learnt from this specialist industry. Think of their needs every step of the way It is likely that a guest will only come forward with a complaint once they have already had a negative experience with your service, so it’s always best to think 10 steps ahead. Like hotels, don’t wait for a client to come to you and ask for extra assistance. At every point you can, go the extra mile to eradicate any issues. Nora Csige, Director of luxury hotel Antara Palace in Cyprus – which was a finalist in the 2014 World Luxury Spa Awards – explained how they begin the process before the guest arrives: “To ensure our clients have a pleasant experience, we send our ‘Wish List’ before their arrival so that guests can fill it out ahead of time. This allows us to get to know a bit more about each of our guests and to be able to tailor their holiday according to their every desire.” You can implement this practice into your own service even if you aren’t part of the hospitality industry. Perhaps you can employ a client services manager to keep in contact with clients and ensure you are meeting their standards. Identity and consistency Hone your brand identity and stick with it. Although we can look towards other businesses for inspiration, completely emulating everything they do will ruin the customer experience. Think closely about what makes your brand unique. Perhaps it’s your heritage and how long you’ve been providing service, or if you’ve not been established for a long time, maybe you provide a contemporary modern approach. Making a statement about who you are adds a special touch to a guest’s stay and will have a similar effect on your business too. A brand identity will most likely drive your marketing efforts and set the tone for your business overall. Keep your service exclusive The fewer guests a hotel has to keep an eye on, the more focused its service can be. Being exclusive not only makes guests feel as if they’ve experienced something special, it also makes attending to their needs a lot easier for you. Although you’d probably like more customers, for the moment it’s best to focus on providing the best service possible for the ones you already have. This way, you can build up your reputation and your customers will provide all of the advertising you need. Offering choice Hotels should be providing more than just a pillow to rest on. They go above and beyond to offer a unique experience for each guest and you should too. For example, instead of offering just one extensive menu, in the hotel industry it is becoming more and more common to visit hotels with more than one restaurant onsite. Not to mention the in-house entertainment provided, despite the surrounding area being one that guests may want to explore. Don’t just think about what your competitors offer, think about what they don’t yet offer. What can you provide that they already don’t? Or perhaps, what do you already provide, that you’re not shouting about enough? Nora explained: “At Antara Palace, we not only strive to outperform but to out-behave. Our number one policy is to develop long-term relationships with all our guests to ensure that they are life-long clients and to keep their loyalty. The staff at Antara go above and beyond guest expectations.” The key to making your business stand out above the rest relies on how unique your service is. Ultimate luxury is something you won’t experience elsewhere. Ignite your passion for customer service Immerse yourself in your services to gauge customer experience. The hospitality industry thrives on repeat business, so it is crucial to offer a service that guests will never forget. Are you providing a service that customers wish to return to? Maria Georgiou, Brand Development Manager at Antara Palace – one of the most exclusive luxury retreats in Cyprus.