Hospitality dictates that customers are “Guests”in our business
We all strive to excel in customer experience management. Judging by my last post, there is a lot of interest involving the words that we use and the phrasing of our words when focusing on the customer experience. Words make up only 7% of our communication (body language is 58% and tone of voice is 35%). So, that means we need to choose our words wisely.
I was meeting with a prospective client yesterday and we discussed this very topic. Her family owns four restaurants in town. During our conversation,she referred to the patrons as customers, while I referred to them as “guests.” She asked me why I was making the distinction between the two words.
Since we were in the restaurant setting, I used the analogy of people coming to her home to eat dinner or to her restaurant to eat dinner. I asked her how she would treat the people coming to her house. She replied “I treat my guests very well. I try to make them feel like family.” As soon as those words were out of her mouth, she understood what I meant. Especially since we were talking about the same meal, just served in two different places.
The guests coming to her house were most likely not paying her to serve them dinner. They were invited guests that she was looking forward to spending time with. Take this same thought into her business – a restaurant. She is looking to increase marketing to increase business. By referring to the customer as a guest, it makes them feel special, that she was looking forward to serving them a meal, and increases the positive feelings of the dining experience. Remember, it is the feeling that our customers/guests have that determine if they will return to us.
While not all industries can use the term guests appropriately for customers, many can. Use your good judgement. It may be the difference that makes the difference. Theme parks, hotels, restaurants, and the entire hospitality industry use the word “guest” as opposed to “customer” whenever possible. Mirriam-Webster defines “guest” as a person to whom hospitality is extended. My advice to any client, manager, or business owner is to be as hospitable as possible when interacting with customers.
Because customers are paying you to treat them well while they are doing business with you, all business should treat them as guests.