The ‘Guest-Centric’ Mindset – what does guest-centric mean?
In a few short weeks, our beloved hospitality venues will begin to open their doors after what we all hope is the last ever national lockdown. Many of our customers haven’t ventured out for over a year, so what will they be expecting from their experience? Following a recent focus group which included senior figures from Azzurri Group, Bistro Pierre and Nando’s, it was clear that we are entering a new era of hospitality – ‘Guest-Centric’. But what does that really mean?
Companies with a guest-centric culture are driven by the desire to create the best possible customer experience. Many would say that they have always placed their customers and guests at the heart of their business, and for most the intention is certainly there. However, in reality there are very few businesses who actually place the customer at the heart of every decision they make. This goes far beyond simply offering great customer service – this is about making sure that every touchpoint in your business has your customers best interests at heart.
Consider your company mission statement (if you have one). Many will focus on the business as the core subject, for example “We make the best burgers in town!”. Transitioning to guest-centric would mean putting the customer at the heart of that sentence, for example “We want to make delicious burgers that our customers crave!”. That small change means that every menu decision, every product choice, every sauce on that burger must be chosen with your customer at the forefront of your mind. Your ego is shown the door!
Now take that a step further, and imagine you’re trying to engineer your menu for a better margin. You’ll usually start by looking at the GP of each menu item, and addressing the dishes yielding the lowest margin. Putting your customer at the heart of your business means taking an entirely different approach, where you are instead starting with your least popular products. Consider why your customers aren’t ordering these items. If they have a high margin then perhaps your customer isn’t seeing their value, and your pricing needs work. Maybe this item isn’t the kind of food your customer wants to eat. Removing a generic veggie burger from your menu and replacing it with a premium meat-free option that is unique to your restaurant will certainly satisfy your customers who choose not to eat meat but introducing a more craveable product will also bring them – and their friends – back to you time and time again.
Putting the customer at the heart of your decisions requires a degree of empathy. You’re going to need the ability to identify a customer’s emotional need, understand the reasons behind that need, and respond to it appropriately. There are a number of ways in which to do that and using your staff to initiate conversations with your customers is a key tool. It’s critical that these conversations are natural, but something as simple as asking your teams to make a habit of noting down customers comments during service will help you to identify areas of your business which are successful, and where you need to rethink.
So, as we look towards reopening for what we hope will be the final time, take this opportunity to really listen to your guests. Get closer-than-ever to your customers and understand what they think, feel, say and most importantly what they want. Question whether your customer is the key driving force next time you make a decision in your own business. A mediocre experience just won’t cut it anymore.
This opinion article does not necessarily represent the views of Foursquare Group as an organisation.
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