A recent article in USA Today mentioned that hotels are trying harder than ever to customize the experience for their guests.  They do this by learning the habits of their customers.  Some chains, such as Ritz-Carlton, have been doing this for years.  Now there are others getting into this strategy.  And thanks to computer networks, what is learned at one hotel can be passed on to the entire chain of hotels.


This is more than knowing if the guest wants a non-smoking room or a king-size bed.  This is about knowing what the guest typically orders from room service, any special requests and more.  And the payoff is big.  It comes in the form of loyalty.


Customers want customization.  For example, you order a car with the options you want.  You order a pizza with the toppings you want.  You order your turkey sandwich with or without mayonnaise.  You choose how you want your steak – rare or well done.  The list goes on and on.  Subway, the successful food chain, is now advertising that because of so many choices they offer, they don’t make the sandwiches – you do.  Choice is great, but even better is when someone can anticipate your choices.  Even if it is based on past experience, it is appreciated and in many cases impressive. 


When a company learns enough about their customers to truly customize the experience, they gain an unbelievable competitive advantage.  Customers won’t voluntarily switch to competition when they know it will take time for someone new to learn about or meet their needs.  When the competition has a learning curve that takes time and effort, it is easier for the existing vendor to hold onto the business, provided they continue to meet and exceed their customers’ expectations.


Where can you customize the experience for your customer?  Watch for buying patterns.  Track customers’ habits.  Listen to special requests and take note.  Take advantage of those opportunities and you will stand out. 


Writing the above reminds me of a time I went to lunch with my close friend, Bud Dietrich.  He ordered a hamburger and the server asked, “How would you like that cooked?”


He replied, “Over a fire.” 


I guess that’s just the way he wants it!


Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE is the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations.  As a professional speaker and author, Shep helps companies develop loyal relationships with their customers and employees.  For more information on Shep’s speaking programs and books, please contact (314) 692-2200. Email: shep@hyken.com  Web: www.hyken.com. For information on customer service training, go to www.TheCustomerFocus.com.

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