One of the most important steps of a CRM study is defining the customer. Without measurably describing the customer, the CRM project should not start. Therefore, I ask every company which I am consulting: “Who do you think is your customer?“
Sometimes my question is perceived as a strange or a silly question. For example one of a hotel boss confidently answered my question: “We prefer to say guests, not customers. And everyone who stays in our hotel is our guest.”
This sentence makes me wonder, “You say so, but does he really feel himself a guest?”
When I hear a sentence with “everyone” in, I reply: “Do you think there is a difference between guest and customer?”
The answer is almost same as a cliche: “Everyonewho stays in our hotel is our guest.”
Ugur Özmen: “So do you mean that there no difference between customer and guest?”
Hotel Boss: “There is no difference between them. Everyone staying in our hotel is our guest. “
U.Ö.: Anyone staying at your hotel? (If you are wondering why I repeat each question 2 times, just wait for a second.)
H.B.: Yes, absolutely everyone. “
U.Ö.: Okay. Let’s proceed by assuming this definition is correct. Who is a lost customer for you? (Notice that, I don’t use the word “guest”.)
H.B.: “Those who have been to our hotel before but never came back again within the last 3 years can be defined as our lost customers. “
U.Ö.: “Okay. Let’s assume this definition is correct. You are examining a customer and see that, he came to your hotel for 5 years in a row and stayed for 2-3 days at each arrival. However he doesn’t show up for the last 3 years.”
H.B.: “Yeah, then we could say it’s lost.”
U.Ö.: “Suppose you reach that customer. You asked why he didn’t visit your hotel in last three years and his answer is; “Our company was holding dealer and agency meetings in your hotel. I was attending to those dealers meeting. I am no longer the dealer or agent of that company. That’s why I’m not coming to your hotel” he says. Will you try to get him back?
Let me create another scenario. The customer has come a few years ago. Still not visible for the last 3 years. You reach him. 16 year old teenager. You ask why he hasn’t come for 3 years. “I used to take a vacation with my parents before. Now I’m going on vacation alone or with my friends” he says. You insist, “My father paid for it before. Now instead of paying you that money, I would go on an interrail tour of Europe”. How do you get him back? Are you going to say, “Don’t break your family ties, they must be missing going on vacation with you, join them“?
Now review your customer description once again. Anyone staying in your hotel can be your guest, but some of your guests are not customers. Some have even come to your hotel for years but have never been your customers.
If you are managing an accommodation facility, ask yourself. Who is your customer? Is it the person or companies which organize meetings at your hotel or the one who makes the reservation, or the one who pays the money?