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My hubby and I just got back from a glorious trip to the California coast, celebrating our 10th Anniversary.

  • Yes, there’s a reason I’m telling you about it.
  • No, I won’t make you look at vacation selfies.
  • (Even though some of them are pretty awesome.)

I’m telling you about the trip for a reason, and it has to do with YOU.

Specifically, how to add profits to your business.

Any time I head into the big wide world, I’m on the lookout for customer experiences that impact loyalty.

Vacations are great opportunities for scouting. Here’s why.

Every interaction with another business unlocks a clue in a big scavenger hunt. Your treasure is finding new ways to add loyalty to your business while avoiding customer turn-offs.

As we booked at hotels and restaurants along our route, my husband and I took any opportunities to share our 10th Anniversary news. If we had a personal relationship with them, we let them know that, too.

Then we watched and waited.

Our first stop was Hotel Erwin near Santa Monica, CA. I had booked via a 3rd party site and was pleased when the hotel followed up with an email. They asked if we were staying for any particular reason, and that’s where I shared the happy news of our Anniversary.

Hotel Erwin’s systems proactively reached out to request information about us.

Information is key when it comes to delivering an amazing customer experience.

The more you know, the more you can personalize engagement.

The more personal the engagement, the more folks feel appreciated.

When customers feel appreciated, they spend more.

In fact, a whopping 70% of a customer’s buying decision is based in how they feel about their experience with you.

Too often, businesses – especially small businesses – fail to capture personal information about customers.

Failing to capture key data about your customers costs you money.

Takeaway #1: Know your customers. Identify the informational gems that enhance a personalized customer experience with your business. Now capture them!

Here’s the second thing Hotel Erwin did right…

As we checked in, the front desk attendant congratulated us on our celebration. When we arrived in our room there was a bottle of Prosecco and a lovely card.

In other words, they took the information they captured and converted it into action.

It’s great to have data, but you have to DO something with it to make it work for you.

Otherwise, it’s like signing up for a gym membership. Unless you use it, you’re not gonna get results.

Once you’ve identified the cool data you can capture, decide how do you want to use it. Then, connect the information to actionable steps so it can be used meaningfully with customers.

You also have to train your employees to make use of the data.

At the hotel, if the Anniversary message had been in the system when we checked in, but the employee didn’t access it to say something, the moment would have been lost.

Data doesn’t help you create a profit-boosting customer experience unless it’s super easy to use in the moment you need it.

Takeaway #2: Customer experience magic happens when you connect the input (gathering the info) with the output (using it effectively at the right moment).

Two wins for Hotel Erwin.

Joe and I will remember our experience there and will not hesitate to refer folks any time they’re heading to Los Angeles.

Not every place made use of the information about our Anniversary.

Only one experience stands out as a bummer. It’s a complicated situation, which is why I’ve chosen to highlight it for you.

The first night of our Honeymoon…lo those many years ago…Joe and I ate dinner at Chez Panisse.

Chez Panisse put farm-to-table dining on the map in the US. Since we are foodies, it was a natural place to start our honeymoon in 2006.

Ten years ago we had a blast. The waiter introduced us to the joys of pairing wine with food in a whole new way. We were invited to tour the kitchens. Our dinner at Chez Panisse was more than a meal – it lived large in our memories of that wonderful Honeymoon.

As you can imagine, we were psyched to go back. We shared the story when we booked the reservation.

Our meal was perfectly pleasant. The food was good. The service was fine. They even draped a “Happy Anniversary” paper banner across our dessert plates.

And that’s it.

For ten years, we had held Chez Panisse in our hearts as being special. We shared our story with them in the reservation notes. We told the waiter when we sat down. A generic paper banner didn’t make us feel special.

Once again, 70% of a customer’s purchase decision boils down to how they FEEL about their experience with you.

Nothing takes away our warm fuzzies from that night of our honeymoon, but this time we walked away deflated. We certainly won’t go out of our way for round three at Chez Panisse.

Takeaway #3: There’s a difference between generic and special. When customers go out of their way to share something personal with you, honor it accordingly.

The paper-banner-on-the-dessert-plate was something we saw at least a half-dozen times around the room that night. We weren’t looking for anything crazy, and we weren’t looking for a freebie. It didn’t feel special because it wasn’t.

Just because you don’t do anything wrong, doesn’t mean you’re getting it right.

Finding ways to capture and activate personal information wins you customer loyalty.

  • Customers feel connected to you.
  • Your business gains profits.
  • You bump up referral rates. (Case in point: Hotel Erwin).
  • AND it doesn’t have to cost you a dime.

When you unlock the key to your customer’s positive feelings, everybody wins.

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