Befriend thy Guest!
I’m of a strong opinion that it’s a good thing for a manager or employee to have friends among loyal Guests. These Guests may receive special attention. For example, when my friend Artur Kasatkin visits FUN24, we play table tennis. One day I wasn’t in town for his birthday, so I ordered a cake shaped like a tennis pad, and the center’s employees brought it to him. Amazing, don’t you think?
I’ll tell you how our Guests become our friends. When I see a Guest for a third or fourth time, I approach them and casually ask them how they’re liking our center. It looks like this: «Hey, I often see you at the pool table. We’re happy to see people interested in playing that game. Can we do anything to make this experience better?» And they say something like: «Could you set up same lamps over all tables?» Next time they come to play pool, everything is done exactly as they wanted. It’s a win-win: we did something good for the center, and the Guest saw that his opinion was appreciated and taken into account.
I constantly wonder and specify what Guests would like to add or change in our services. This is called extra attention. When Guests understand that we really care, they become advocates and ambassadors of our brand. Why? Because they feel they’re special, that they’re inherent to this place.
I myself only visit places that share these values. Personal approach is a decisive factor for me. I like Moscow’s Depo for variety, but I don’t like the distance between employees and visitors. When I go somewhere to work or meet someone, it is important for me to feel at home; for me, it should be part of services. I favor places where I’m treated as a friend, as «our guy». I like comfort and personalized attitude.
The photo shows one of such places, Lounge-Cafe Unity Hall in Kazan. Their owners came up with a simple solution — they grant certificates to their loyal Guests, expressing gratitude for choosing their place over many others. I’m a frequent Guest of this hookah bar as well, so I also have this certificate. It may look like a piece of paper, but it makes you feel special and appreciated.
One of my strategic challenges is to encourage our centers’ employees to develop a similar approach to our Guests. Imagine 250 staff members, each having two or three friends among Guests. This will make our centers twice or thrice as hospitable and amiable as they are now!
To me, «Befriend Thy Guest» is an efficient solution for businesses centered around communicating and interacting with people. Trustful relationships are not always easy to make, but we all know for sure that it will be profitable and solid for both sides in the long run.