Few businesses will dispute the importance of good customer service. Yet what often isn’t mentioned is how context dependent customer service is. We all expect less than stellar customer service at the DMV, and adjust our expectations accordingly. This means that a license clerk who is simply polite and competent might come across as delivering remarkably good customer service.
Hotels, on the other hand, operate in a much different client context. People expect good service from hotels — and the more money they spend, the higher these expectations rise. That means good customer service isn’t optional in the hotel industry — it’s absolutely essential. Without it, hotel owners are at a serious competitive disadvantage.
With that in mind, let’s discuss some steps you can take to improve your hotel’s customer service experience.
Canvass your guests for feedback
Who better to identify faults in your customer service approach than the customers themselves? While many hotels make efforts in this area, a lot of customer service feedback programs are little more than a pencil and a survey. Aim for more refined feedback, and ask customers to specifically list what they didn’t like and what could be done better. Just as importantly, commit to using this data to significant implement changes.
Pay attention to online comments
These days customers who are displeased don’t just complain to friends and family. Many of them will air out grievances on Twitter, or leave detailed comments and ratings on major online travel sites. It’s important to realize that these comments can be toxic to your business if left to fester. Take an active approach, address these complaints publicly and try to find a common ground solution that works for both parties.
Use a remote receptionist
Few things drive customers up the wall more than an inability to contact the front desk. A remote receptionist eliminates this problem, while providing callers with a warm, professional touch that can’t be matched by voice mail. In today’s era of instant communication, people hate receiving and listening to voice mail. This is why a hospitality answering service is a big plus in terms of customer engagement.
Provide employee incentives
While ideally every employee should make customer service a priority no matter what, sometimes it helps to encourage this behavior a bit. Establishing an incentive program provides recognition for employees who are offering truly stellar customer service. By making an example of (and rewarding) employees who are doing things right, those who need a little nudge will have more reason to join in.
Make sure your priorities are clearly communicated
Sometimes it’s not the employee’s fault if customer service goals aren’t being met. If there is a lack of clear guidance on how to treat customers, or an absence of clearly defined customer service priorities, employees may genuinely be unaware of what they are supposed to achieve. By outlining your customer service goals clearly — and reiterating their importance periodically — you can ensure that customers are being given the right treatment.
Customer service is a critical part of any successful hotel venture. By following the steps outlined above, you can put your hotel in the best position to thrive.