Imagine you decide to stay at a gorgeous, new hotel, in a city you’ve never been to for a long weekend vacation. Your enjoyment of the trip is largely dependent on your experience in that city and your hotel plays a major role in that. Sadly, many of us had bad experiences at hotels where from the moment we’ve checked in, the hotel ‘checks out,’ overcharging our rate, giving us poor directions to our room, even sending us to a room that’s not ready or in bad shape.
These disappointing first impressions immediately color our perception, not only of the hotel, but of the overall city we’re visiting in a negative light. But this poor ‘handoff’ experience is not unique to the hospitality industry, it is echoed in the B2B and B2C customer experience as well—and something we see regularly in our work with customer onboarding at TaskRay.
The hospitality industry, hotels especially, (typically) understand that their brand and their product is the lived experience of a stay, a meal, or a perfectly curated moment. So it’s not surprising that the best guest stays are the result of a great customer experience from the moment you book to the end of your stay.
Let’s take a look at the tenets of a great guest experience and how that can translate directly into how your customers experience your SaaS product.
Anticipate needs by understanding your customers.
One of the best things hotels do to allow for customer success is anticipating guest needs, then meeting or surpassing them flawlessly. For example, your hotel concierge may have asked you a bit about yourself and your travel plans when you arrived, then offered personalized guidance and recommendations for relevant attractions around the city. Or, say you are running late for your 7:00 pm dinner reservation that you mentioned to your concierge–you come downstairs only to realize that the valet has already pulled your car around. This proactive anticipation of customers’ needs or even pain points has an incredible power to ensure and drive customer success, as you’re creating successful experiences ahead of time.
While SaaS customer onboarding and success teams are typically more removed from their customers than hotels from their guests, there is still room for creating a better understanding of who your customers are so you can better anticipate and meet their needs. But similar to the hospitality industry, getting to know your customers begins the moment the deal goes closed/won (ideally before). Capturing information about your customers’ industry, use case, team structure, and what successful implementation and use of your product will look like is critical to anticipating what they will need from you along the way.
Actively participate in your customers’ success.
The very heart of your hotel experience is often how the staff made you feel valued. Every hotel guest wants to feel special, as if their stay is personalized just for them, and great hospitality staff go out of their way to make their guests feel important.
Making your customers feel valued may look different when it comes to technology, but the basics are the same: keep track of your customers’ information, know where they are in their customer journey, and don’t make them repeat themselves.
Following these three basic rules can make any B2B or B2C customer experience feel as smooth as a stay at the Four Seasons.
Listen to what your customers aren’t saying.
Great hotels know that it’s essential to listen not only to guests’ initial requests but also to what they don’t say out loud. If you’ve been lucky enough to stay somewhere that your drink never seems to empty or your room is somehow always made up and the flowers in the lobby are never droopy, you’ll recognize this silent hospitality magic. There is a very well-rehearsed formula to this type of service that can be similarly applied in other industries: listen to what your customers aren’t saying.
With customer success, especially in SaaS, your customers may not be able to articulate what they “need” from your product or what they wish it could do for them, but it’s critical for you to read between the lines. How? Review your customer’s usage data—are they even using the product? Do they have new users who haven’t been onboarded properly? Are they aware of new features and functionality that fits their needs? What are their growth goals for the next 3,6, 12 months? How can your product help them reach those in ways they hadn’t anticipated?
When broken down, the five-star hotel guest experience is comprised of the same basic elements any customer experience should include:
- First impressions matter
- Anticipate customer needs
- Actively demonstrate interest in the customer experience
- Listen to what your customers aren’t saying (and of course, what they are saying!)