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February 15, 2019
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Friendly engagement with customers

In my first edition of Park Talk, I introduced the following question....

“How can I make my caravan park more successful?"

In that initial blog I listed a number of items I want to consider in the coming weeks and months. The first in the series is on the subject of Friendliness towards customers.

Engaging with people who are friendly makes a huge difference to the way we respond. In any circumstance, just a friendly or unfriendly attitude can make or break a relationship, interaction, communication or business.

Are there consequences for an unfriendly park host?

We need only consider our own personal experiences to know the answer to that. Customers who are spoken to rudely or in an unwelcoming manner will not easily let that slide, even if the park is immaculate and ticks all the right boxes. The first impression and interaction with you or your staff can make a huge difference to your business for your customers.

How will friendliness impact your business?

In a recent survey we ran on Facebook we asked our followers the following question.

Assuming a Caravan Park is generally meeting your needs will the FRIENDLINESS of the hosts / staff impacthow long you may stay in the park?

  1. Definitely
  2. Sometimes
  3. Not at all

Friendliness of staff and hosts can have a big impact on your business. If 81% say definitely - and we deliver an unfriendly experience, how much business is lost? On the flip side, imagine if every guest stayed just 1 or 2 extra days? The impact on business can be significant.

Is Friendliness an important criteria for customers when selecting a park?

In a recent survey undertaken amongst 1657 travelling nomads, we provided our audience with 23 factors that could impact their decision on choosing a caravan park. In the survey we asked them to select just 5 of MOST importance. Interestingly enough the top 4 criteria were exactly the same as what we had identified as key 4 years ago. Friendliness was seen as one of the most important criteria in selecting a park

  1. Cost
  2. Clean Facilities
  3. Friendly Hosts & Staff
  4. Well Maintained facilities & Park

Customers want to feel welcomed, respected, appreciated and liked. It costs little effort and no money, but the returns can be significant. Our duty to customers is to ensure they leave with a very enjoyable, pleasant and happy experience. We want them to say to us: ‘ I’ll be back!’  Happy guests will multiply their positive experiences by 'Word of Mouth' on the road. The travelling nomad is a very powerful marketing tool for you – if you have exceeded their expectations. If the experience has been below average, you can be sure that this will also be discussed out there.

Consider the Numbers... from various Research papers

In a survey on why customers stop supporting a business!

  • A typical business will only hear from 4% of its dissatisfied customers
  • The other 96% just quietly go away
  • 91% never return!
  • 4 out of 5 tell others about the issue
  • 1 in 5 will tell 20 others
  • It takes 12 positive service incidents to make up for 1 negative incident
  • On the flip side when you satisfy a customer….
  • 7 out of 10 complaining customers will do business with you again if you resolve the complaint
  • Resolve the issue immediately and 95% will do business with you again
  • A satisfied customer will tell 5 other people about how the problem was satisfactorily resolved
  • When a customer receives good service, he or she tells 9 to 12 people on average

'It takes six times more effort to attract a new customer than keeping an existing customer!'

Setting the standard

Friendliness starts at the top

As business owners setting the standards for all staff is important, ensuring a positive and friendly approach. Expect the same of staff. In fact, make it an expectation that staff engage with guests in a friendly and helpful manner at all times. This includes all staff, not just the front desk. All staff should have a customer centric friendly approach.

Staff selection

Staff selection is the start of this process. Attitude is a choice. Technical skill is important, but choosing staff with a positive, outgoing and friendly attitude, will also make a huge difference to how they engage with customers, and make the management experience for you so much easier too. Don’t think you can fix a bad mental attitude when they come onto staff – it wont happen. It is almost impossible to train people to learn a positive mental service ability – don't even try! That is why choosing people with a positive attitude will make your life so much easier. Work skills are easier to teach than behavioural attitudes.

Customer Friendly attitude

Those who deliver great service have a genuine customer-friendly attitude. Recognise that customers are the most important part of your business – let's not forget, they pay the bills! That friendly attitude is not only face to face but also on the phone and email. This includes timely responses on returning phone calls.

First Impressions

First  impressions starts with the first interaction with you and your staff at the front desk. It's important that the person manning the desk has a friendly and outgoing personality.  Some tips for creating that right friendly attitude.

  • Welcome guests
  • Introduce yourself
  • Thank them for choosing your park.
  • Ask for their names - build rapport
  • Small talk of their journey
  • Show interest
  • Quick chat before business

A friendly approach to all customers is a key building block to your business success.

How is your business performing?

Are guests reporting that they love the friendly nature of you and your staff?

I would love to get your thoughts and comments on the success principle of 'Friendliness'! I can be reached at bert@kuiparks.com.au

 

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