"When it comes to customers in customer service, it’s not about us - it’s always about them. They buy with emotion and justify their decision with reason." - Bill Quiseng
Bill Quiseng is an esteemed industry professional who has seen tremendous success in the world of hospitality.
For over thirty years, he's excelled as a leader and customer service expert at luxury resorts and clubs. His impressive body of work was recognised by Travel+Leisure Magazine when they voted a venue one of the World’s Best Hotels under his administration.
Bill also received prestigious honours such Marriott International Spirit to Serve Award, the Pearson Award for Excellence in Lodging, the American Hotel Motel Association Leadership & Sales Excellence Awards and the Petoskey Chamber Of Commerce Mission award. He continues to inspire with his talks on customer experience management & employee engagement, which are driven by decades of experience garnered through successes like these.
We were thrilled to speak to Bill about the customer experience, how it's changing, and what hospitality vendors can do to stay ahead of the game and provide their guests with truly memorable experiences.
Bill, would you please start by telling our readers a little bit about yourself, and your career in customer experience?
In 1976, while I was a 20-year-old student at Santa Clara University, CA, I became a part-time charter associate of Marriott’s Great America Theme Park. After graduating from college two years later, I joined Marriott Hotels and until 2021, I’ve been in full-service and luxury hotels and resorts throughout the mainland US and Hawaii. There was no such thing as customer experience (CX), but I was doing more than serving to satisfy guests. I wanted them to have a better-than-average experience than guests expected. So I served to wow them. I served to CARE. (Communicate. Acknowledge. Respond. Enrich). Big difference.
As a general manager/managing director for 27 of the 43 years in hospitality, I was planning to retire and be a customer CARE speaker, but then everything went south. Unfortunately, I suffered a stroke in April 2021.
I was hoping for my comeback, and that is why I am "speaking" on LinkedIn. Whenever I fully recover, sometime in mid-2023, I hope to have some semblance of visibility to potential business leaders to educate, enthuse, and empower them to engage with their people to wow their customers.
In which ways do you believe the customer experience is changing? How can venues ensure they are keeping up to date with the most effective practices?
Because of the turmoil of COVID, Skimpflation, the Great Resignation, inflation, or the recession, today’s customers are overly sensitive and more demanding than years before. Also, now, because of technological enhancements and social media influences, satisfying current customer needs and innovating future potential customer wants will maximise the ROI of CX. So - always be satisfying customers; always be innovating, and always be GREAT out there!
What data do you think is most useful to capture and use to create more excellent guest experiences?
Too often, business leaders use data to measure customer service scores to compete with their rivals. But that is not about scorekeeping customers. It is simply about KEEPING customers.
To do that, venues need to use data to personalise experiences for their customers to emotionally engage with them. To customers, perception is reality, image is everything and feelings are facts. It doesn’t matter if you personally know who they are or if data has told us we can act to personally know who they are. When it comes to customers in customer service, it’s not about us - it’s always about them. They buy with emotion and justify their decision with reason. They seek the best emotional value in their entire experience, not in the minutiae of your products, technical services, human customer service, virtual or physical locations, or prices.
Customers don't seek B2B or B2C companies. They engage companies that are H2H - Human to Human. One to One. Customers don't care how big your company is. They care about how much you care about them. The value to your customer is in your personal interaction, not the 'cash or credit' transaction.
You speak a lot about the importance of empowering employees to improve the customer experience. What is some advice you can give to managers leading customer care?
QUI QUOTE: If you're not caring for the customer, you'd better be caring for the person who is.
QUI Takeaway: CARE big for your employees and they will do the same for your customers. Focus on creating a great experience for your employees as much as you do for customers and you will earn the loyalty of both.
I will explain letter by letter (C.A.R.E.), step-by-step (Communicate. Appreciate. Recognise. Empower) more elaborately on how you need to CARE big for your employees.
Ideally, all of you will be enthused and energized to engage customers. You, your colleagues, and your employees will create an emotional connection with your customers. The more emotional the connections, the more memorable the experiences, and the more loyal the customers are. Customers will return again and again, raving to others along the way.
Soon, without a focus on profits, profits will grow, and everyone’s lives will be enriched, literally and figuratively.
What role do you think social media plays in the customer experience? How can venues capitalise on this insight?
Nowadays it is not only your customers' personal interactions and subsequent word-of-mouth advertising that will drive your reputation; it is also the viral impact when those interactions are posted on social media sites like TripAdvisor, Twitter, Facebook, or Yelp. Times have certainly changed when all you had to do to build your reputation was to include handpicked testimonials in your sales packets or advertisements. Now customers reading these third-party sites take the reviews as gospel from people they have never and most likely will never meet. Communications expert Michael Angelo Caruso has identified this tendency of web surfers, “If they hear it from us it is advertising. If they hear it from someone else, it's the truth.”
QUI Takeaway: People are talking about you whether you know it or not, like it or not. World-class or no class. And if they’re not talking world-class or no class, then they’re just not talking about you at all. Make sure you have them tell a wow story with your great customer service.
QUI Quote: Marketing is a promise to customers. Customer loyalty is not built on promises. It’s built on the consistent delivery of service that exceeds customer expectations of the company’s marketing promises.
What will the future of customer care look like in the venue and hospitality sectors?
Contrary to many business and customer experience speakers, we don’t have a “peak-end rule”. Customers don’t “journey” sequentially over time, from start to finish. They journey emotionally with “ow” and “wow" moments. The more ow or wow, the more emotional the moment, and the more memorable the experience. The more ow, the more disgustingly memorable the experience, and the more disloyal the customer. The more wow, the more delightfully memorable the experience, and the more loyal the customer.
So, when we analyse the journey, we first ask, “What are the customers’ expectations? Then we ask, “What are the potential dissatisfiers and how can we remove them?” And when we ask and take action, a negative customer experience has turned into a neutral one. But that’s not good enough. Satisfied customers feel service is good, not better, just average. Nobody raves about average. Satisfied customers will leave when they find something better or less expensive.
So, don’t serve to satisfy customers. Don’t treat customers as they would have expected. And don’t treat them as they want to be treated. Instead, treat them a little better than they want to be treated. Serve to wow them.
Customer loyalty is not one big wow to a customer. It’s one little wow delivered consistently to every customer. And when you consistently deliver a little wow, you transform a neutral customer experience into a positive one.
So, be magnificently boring! And I will be sure that you remind all your people just exactly how to do that.
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