Hakan Ozel, General Manager – Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai
“Customer Engagement and Staying Close to Customers” is one of the most important fundamentals of business that should be considered at the top of the strategic plans of the luxury enterprises. When this receives enough attention with full commitment and passion, it becomes a very valuable tactical action of a business strategy.
Customer Engagement Model
Every luxury organization needs a strong customer engagement model. Once this model is developed and implemented throughout the organization in a disciplined manner, it helps to serve the customers at a delightful level. It helps organizations know their customers better and deeper. By engaging, organizations learn the needs, likes, dislikes and preferences of the customers, and take instant actions to either fulfill their needs or solve their problems while they are still in or close to the organizations’ premises. This creates and retains loyalty, which is one of the most important business basics and needs of luxury organizations.
Product and Service Development
Customer engagement helps to develop the products and services. If you want to identify the most experienced person in your organization, don’t look so far way; that is the person who uses and gains tremendous number of experiences with your products and services. That person is always your customer! Through engagement and listening to them closely, they become a natural member of your R&D team and shares invaluable recommendations with you to improve your offers further. They help you to learn particular angle where you would be better at something than anybody else in your actual and potential competition.
Once you know your customers, you also create segmentation to specifically create or tailor-make your products and services for each segment, as you move your offers away from being a commodity product but strengthen the positioning as a luxury. So, in this way, customer engagement becomes an awesome gift and model for product and service development.
Staying close to customers helps to know them better. This helps to anticipate what they would need or what they would not even think that they would need. This retains and develops business, increases the number of return guests and its ratio, which becomes the base business of the luxury organizations. When engagement is leveraged, it helps the organizations to anticipate guest needs and fulfill them before they are demanded so that the customers are surprised, delighted, return and furthermore spread the positive word about the organizations.
Effects of Disengagement
Disengagement causes dissatisfaction. Any product or service of the luxury enterprises provided to customers may not meet with the high expectations against what they pay. Due to lack of customer engagement, this may not be communicated with the organizations’ members. If that is the case, customers either object or complain post their experience.
If customer engagement is not strong enough, customers leave the premises with the problems and their experiences and memories, which prevents them to return to patronage or spread positive words about the products and services of the enterprise. This is certainly not desirable.
If the organizations stay away from the customers, they fail to learn their challenges due to lack of engagement, subsequently fail to fix or improve instantly. If they learn, they have a takeaway out of the experience; and they ensure there won’t be any potential dissatisfaction around that particular product or service again in the future.
Loyalty through Engagement
When there is a strong engagement, customers will not look for an alternative to organizations. They will continue to be loyal. However, when they do not find someone to talk about their experiences at the present time or in the future because engagement is not the tactical model of the business plan of the enterprises, they will certainly look for someone in another organization to engage with and talk. This is partly how the business shifts from one organization to another.
Excellent and the most successful companies listen to their customers in a meaningful manner, as other companies only talk about it. They engage and stay close to them. They are obsessed and committed to customers through excellent products and services because they learn, know, anticipate and develop. Customer engagement will continue to remain as one of the most significant tactical actions of the enterprises’ business plans.