The 5-E’s: Customer Engagement is a Contact Sport

Companies that sell “luxury” like designer handbags, travel and country club memberships tend to make customer service a top priority. These brands target an affluent demographic that expects nothing but the best, especially when they're spending a lot of money on your services and products.

Private Club Marketing is known for working with exclusive golf, city and yacht clubs, as well as luxury brands like Macallan, Aston Martin and Four Seasons Hotels, has learned a lot about what the luxury market wants from the businesses they patronize.

“When dealing with high-net-worth individuals (and families), it is important to portray trust and professionalism. Excellent customer service is the best way to put a customer at ease. Successful customer service representatives will portray empathy and will make the customer feel comfortable engaging with your brand and invite their friends to do so as well.“

Below we’ve included John DiJulius’ 5-E’s of Customer engagement for your enjoyment.

FAB FIVE – We hate platitudes. Don’t tell your team to be present or to make or exceed expectations. Tell them how, make it black & white, and make it measurable. One of my new favorite systems for making a member connection are the “5-E’s.”

  1. Eye Contact
  2. Ear-to-Ear
  3. Enthusiastic Greeting
  4. Engage
  5. Educate

Why? – We love these for five reasons:

  1. They are so simple to do
  2. They can be effective with every member
  3. The first four take zero time to execute
  4. They demonstrate genuine hospitality
  5. No one else is doing them

Eye Contact – This eliminates the head down, uncaring, robotic feeling when the front-line just asks, “next?”  A great training method for this is to audit the employees by periodically asking them, “What was the color of the member’s eyes?” (maybe a bit too creepy, though).

Ear-to-Ear – Smile.  A smile is part of the uniform, and a smile has teeth. Demonstrate a positive attitude and tell the member that you are happy to serve them.

Enthusiastic Greeting – Your greeting must demonstrate genuine warmth and not just a trained greeting. It should be one that shows enthusiasm in the voice coupled with a smile and eye contact.  You are now giving genuine hospitality as if the member was an old friend visiting at your home.

Engage – THIS IS THE ONE, the secret ingredient that most clubs do a poor job of mandating, training, showing its importance, and hence they provide little direction to employees on how to execute. This doesn’t have to be a ten-minute conversation.  Every single member can be engaged within the time it typically takes to serve them, be it 90 seconds in a grab-and-go environment or a 45-minute meeting. This action demonstrates that they are not a herd of cattle, or one of a hundred member.  It eliminates the “too task focused on the transaction” versus having an “interaction” with someone.  In the incidences where you know the member — make that known.  Utilize any member intelligence you can, from info in a database to recognizing their bagtag, or a picture of their twins on the desk, a hat, college shirt, tie, glasses, or anything else you can point out.

Educate – This is the one that may slightly affect time of service in industries that are built around rapid pace (fast food) and may have to have an above & beyond action when it is warranted, i.e. a new member unfamiliar with a menu. For the rest of us it should have zero impact on productivity and be demonstrated every single time. Think of companies like Ritz-Carlton and Apple stores. Their employees are brilliant about their products and application.

 

Contact us to learn more

Private Club Marketing, recognized as Platinum Clubs of America‘s preferred Membership Marketing Firm, is a luxury marketing, branding and membership sales consulting firm specializing in private clubs, golf communities, resort destinations, boutique hotels, estates and unique lifestyle environments. We help Developers, Owners, Financial Institutions, and Management Companies make big decisions on envisioning, strategy, marketing, sales, and organization.

Five Ways Hospitality Technology Can Be a Member/Guest Service Differentiator

Every private club and hotel's success starts with friendly guest interactions. Your staff answers the phone enthusiastically and professionally, greets incoming guests with a smile, and maintains an upbeat disposition during their in-person interactions.

In the information age, friendly guest interactions must necessarily go beyond face-to-face encounters and follow-up phone calls. It must cross over into your guest’s digital experience.

Cutting-edge hospitality technologies let luxury properties offer more efficient, communicative customer service across multiple channels while still maintaining the essential friendliness of hospitality. Here are five ways clubs and hotels are leveraging these exciting new platforms as guest service differentiators.

  1. Recognizing Loyal, Return Guests

Just as Amazon saves a shopper’s preferences, many hospitality platforms store information about their guest’s favorite restaurants and spas, or their birthdays and anniversaries. This new kind of hospitality technology effectively improves the level of guest service a property can offer. It helps properties not only recognize loyal returning guests, but provide them with a highly personal experience.

Robert Sereci, General Manager at Medinah Country Club is taking this challenge on head on, “We are working with a 3rd party company to develop analytics to better understand member usage with the data collected [by our POS and tee time systems]. Our current vendor has almost zero analytics.”

The Cosmos Club in Washington DC started a “Longevity Recognition Program” that tracks members when they reach 30, 40, and 50 years of membership.  Mitchell Platt, General Manager said, “We send out a congratulatory letter and meal certificate to show appreciation.

  1. Personalizing Each Visit

To make a visit memorable, it must be tailored to the guest. Starting from their initial point of contact with a guest, your staff should collect details about a guest’s preferences. CRM systems now contain information about dietary restrictions, and other personal needs and preferences.

Russ Snella, Manager of IT Strategy and Solutions, formerly at the Union League Club says, “Every generation communicates differently. If you are not using their method of communications you are wrong. Every form of communications is required.”

Even a quick search through GHIN will give you insight to where a guest has recently played golf. Once a guest arrives at a property, the staff updates the guest’s profile. This high-touch service environment personalizes the guest experience and ultimately cultivates long-term customer loyalty.

  1. Using Member-Only Mobile Applications

Many members, especially millennials, prefer communication via mobile devices. To effectively greet this audience and offer them attentive guest service, club and hotel properties are using members-only mobile applications to field requests, use on-property text messaging, and increase social engagement.

Desert Mountain Club in Scottsdale, AZ is currently in development of a full-service member mobile app. With six (soon to be seven) golf courses and clubhouses, nine restaurants and grills, and dozens of events and classes each week, navigating Desert Mountain can be a challenge. “Beginning this fall, members will be able to reserve tee times, dining reservations, book spa appointments and manage event sign-ups with one touch,” says Kim Atkinson, Director of Marketing and Communications. “We’ll also use the app to push notifications to groups based on preferences and interests, and will work to enable members with common interests to connect with one another.”

Sequoyah Country Club in Oakland, CA recently opened a new state-of-the-art wellness center and installed Technogym equipment and technology solutions. In 2017 Technogym partnered with IBM to create a “human-like” virtual coach, able to interact with people using natural language, and to offer them personalized training programs based on their goals and context conditions (such as weather, agenda, health conditions, food intake) in order to enhance a healthier lifestyle.

  1. Building Long-Term Customer Loyalty

How do properties build a successful loyalty program without it becoming intrusive? Some properties are automatically enrolling repeat guests into their loyalty programs, and then offering personalized invitations, individualized concierge services, and other high-touch experiences based on their visits. Others use their guests’ transactional data to offer personalized gifts.

Preferred Golf, a division of Preferred Hotels and Resorts offers points members can use towards golf trips and experiences. By their members using their iPrefer rewards, Preferred Hotels and Resorts are better positioned to personalize the guest experience while they are visiting one of their 750 hotels worldwide.

  1. Streamlining Technology Deployment

Issues with connectivity, fragmented ecosystem, and personnel training can prevent a hiccup-free deployment. New, innovative hospitality software can be deployed quickly and easily. This software is user-friendly, decreasing the time needed to train staff.

Companies like Atlantic IT have tech and sales staff with experience at Top 100 private clubs to assist with deployment of new technologies. Krystal Triumph, Director of Business Development says, “With every club being unique and having custom requests for integration, we’ve learned that there really isn’t a one size fits all platform. So, we’ve developed standards and best practices to help our clients’ use technology to standout and create a personalized experience for their members.”

Club and Hospitality technology is advancing at a breakneck pace. As your property considers new platforms and applications, review these five methods of using technology as a guest service differentiator.

Has Wingtip CEO Found the Balance between Member Value and Member Experience?

Half-store, half-social club, located in San Francisco’s Financial District, has Founder and CEO of Wingtip ClubAmi Arad found the balance of member value and experience?

At PSFK’s Future of Retail 2016 SF event, Arad spoke to how his Club cultivates their community and delivers delight to their customers.

Continue reading

Internal Club Branding

We spend weeks, sometimes months, developing our “marketing strategies.” Examining and monitoring our members and incoming prospects. Who are the new members we’ve brought in over the last 12 months and where are they coming from? How are they enjoying the club? What is their usage? Are they bringing in the guests that could potentially become new members themselves? These internal reports are invaluable to the growth of our prospect list and retention of our membership.

However, there is an area that is almost always forgotten in the planning phase of our new year strategy or the restructuring of the previous year’s concept: training staff to understand and reflect our message and brand.

The truth is, branding starts from the inside out. Do your employees believe in your product and the services that you offer? Are they standing 100% behind you in the mission of your brand? Are they living your brand? It is important that your employees are informed and involved in the new initiatives and strategies that take place within your club.

I recently attended a presentation for sales and marketing professionals where the participants were asked to raise their hands if they thought their business would not be around in the next 15 years. Nearly half the room raised their hands! Fifty percent of those business’ brand managers didn’t believe their own message. Now you can imagine that this can only trickle down through the staff culture. If your staff is unable or unwilling to support your marketing efforts, it can have detrimental results. How do you begin an internal branding campaign within your company?

  • Step 1: Synchronize Your Brand Personality, Values and Corporate Culture
    Your marketing team should be working closely with your Human Resources team to ensure that the common values of your company internally and externally are in sync. At your upcoming staff meetings, play quiz games about the history of your club, upcoming events and who the new members are.
  • Step 2: Get Your Employees Behind Your Brand
    Align your criteria for recruiting and rewarding employees with the criteria of the brand value. Look for the right skills and aptitudes that will represent your brand promise effectively. Sometimes the best incentives are recognition. When I was a member relations director at ClubCorp we had a recognition program called “STAR Card.” The Members were encouraged to recognize the staff with these cards when they went above and beyond. Rewards were given to those employees based on a point system for each card they received.
  • Step 3: Reinforce and Repeatedly Explain Brand Values and Behaviors
    Use your internal communication to reinforce and explain the values and behaviors that reflect your brand promise. Your employee newsletter should be similar to your member newsletter, recognize those who are excelling, new hires, new members, promote upcoming events and then quiz random employees about the content in their newsletters. Continuously do this until it becomes second nature.

If you thought the process of involving your staff was not important, take into account that your employees meet, greet, and assist your members in many different ways. They are the face of your brand. Engage your staff right from the start and encourage individual input. Use your staff as a focus group – after all who knows your clientele better than they do? By doing this, you will not only get support from your staff but you will be given insight and ideas that you otherwise may not have considered.

Private Club Social Media Policy

Just thinking about writing a social media policy makes us cringe. It's one of those tasks that membership and club managers know should be a priority but will find any excuse to avoid. And yet for all the procrastinating, it's not that difficult a task. To help, here are a few things to consider when writing your policy.

Why do you need a social media policy?

Given the explosive popularity of social networking, it's likely your employees are already actively engaging. Considering the public nature of social media and the rapid-fire speed at which information can spread, without proper guidelines in place your Club is exposed to risks. These risks range from employees “social NOTworking” on company time to an employee posting offensive content that causes serious damage to your Club's reputation.

By providing clear guidelines on what's appropriate and what's not appropriate, a social media policy will help mitigate risks and contain fallout in the event of a breach of conduct or a full-on crisis.

Equally important, a social media policy will help mobilize some of your greatest advocates: your employees and members. Everyone at your club has a role in shaping your reputation, and the more voices sharing relevant content about your golf course, tennis facilities, dining room, spa, fitness center, events, etc. the greater your reach. The policy should encourage staff to support your social media activities rather than discourage them for fear of breaking rules.

Request Our Sample Social Media Policy

 

Related Articles:

Social Media Policies…
Why Employers Must Consider Implementing Them
by Andrew W. Singer, Esq. and Jason B. Klimpl, Esq.

 

Chartwell Golf and Country Club revamps Member Newsletter


Chartwell Golf and Country Club and Private Club Marketing recently released the redesigned members newsletter, the Chartwell Chatter. The new edition includes a streamlined and modern look, featured member photos from events and is shared online with its membership.

“This has been on my wish list for years.  I know it had been discussed several times at the Past President's Dinners also.  The format and presentation was easy to read and follow.”

chartwell club newsletter designThe new Chatter gained an amazing 128% increase in membership views. From an average 125 online visitors per issue to 285 of the new Chatter in just 2 weeks of being released.

Click Here to learn more about custom newsletter design and coordination by Private Club Marketing.