Know your customer … or they’ll end up forgetting you…

Before we get started, I need to assure you that this is not another tale of a woeful experience with a certain airline … for once, that bit was fine. However, I’ve just returned from a short break in Malta where I experienced a perfect example of how to ‘know’ your customer … and was also treated to a stunning example of how not to do it…

I’ve been lucky enough to ‘escape’ to Malta with ‘She Who Must…’several times in the last six years and while you can imagine we have tried to experience as many different restaurants as we possibly could … we’ve always stayed at the same hotel.

In fact, it’s not just the same hotel … it’s always been the same room in the same hotel, in a hotel chain I stay in quite regularly on various trips around the world. As a result, they have a record of all of my visits in a ‘profile’ … so you would expect them to have a reasonable idea about me, or at least the fact I was a very regular customer.

As it turned out – they had not done their homework at all…

For example, the Prosecco our booking had promised us ‘on arrival’ did not, in fact arrive at all … and even the promise to then have ‘two glasses sent up to our room’ did, in the end, just consist of two empty glasses and no Prosecco. While none of this is the end of the world, you’ll agree for one of the most highly regarded hotel chains in the world, it was a pretty poor show.

As I was a regular guest I knew this wasn’t the way they normally did things – but if this had been my first time staying there I would have been really unimpressed. When I went down to the desk to explain this and they finally looked up my ‘profile’ on their system – there were many red faces and many apologies.

Now I’m not suggesting for a minute anyone should have rolled out the red carpet or started throwing rose petals in front of me as I walked around the hotel, but what I am saying that they had all of the tools at their disposal to do a much better job than they did.

This point was emphasised when we visited a restaurant later that evening. We hadn’t been in for a couple of years and while I do pride myself on being quite memorable, I wasn’t expecting the welcome we received.

The owner remembered us, despite the fact we had not set foot in the building for a couple of years. He talked with us at great length about the restaurant business and was interested that I now owned a bar and restaurant myself. In short, he knew a great deal more about us (and was interested in learning even more)  than the hotel chain we stayed with regularly and even had a database with everything about us stored on it.

Not surprisingly, the restaurant owner had done quite well in the intervening time between our visits. Last time we saw him, he owned one restaurant, he now owned seven, and it wasn’t hard to see why.

In fact, he invited us to one of his other restaurants the following evening to try a special menu and of course, we accepted. We had a brilliant time and by ‘knowing his customer’ he doubled his sales (in fact a bit more than doubled as there were some particularly good wines that ‘needed’ trying).

So there you have it … Firstly an organisation that had all of the information to hand to really know their customer but didn’t use it, and as a result left a less than favourable impression on a regular customer.

Then, on the other hand, we had the restaurant owner who took time to remember his customers (or at least kept very good notes on his customers likes and dislikes) and used all of that information to create a brilliant experience, which resulted in him doubling his sales on that trip over and ensuring we’ll be visiting more than one of his restaurants next time we are there.

I think we can all work out which of these two businesses we’d rather be running.

Until Next Time,

Tim Lowe
Publisher, Tim’s Business Lowe Down 

Tim Lowe