Did you know that for 61% of travellers it takes just one bad experience to swear off a hotel brand and find an alternative? This shows that a lot of people will only stand to have their trust broken once, and are not liable to provide many second chances. It’s not a surprise that guests have high expectations – and they continue to rise – but it is concerning for hoteliers, who are trying hard to generate long-term customers.
So, how do you work on preventing this one destructive experience? There’s probably no way of eliminating it completely. Mistakes do happen, as do unreasonable customers – but by taking a laserlike focus to customer service and realising it could be the most important function at your hotel, you can start to build a reputation for excellence.
Here are some tips:
Look beyond your own borders
One of the most salient points to make is that customer service is universal, abounding in every industry. So even if you’re convinced you have the best customer service in the hotel industry, it doesn’t mean you can’t improve on it because a brand in another industry may set a whole different standard for what great customer service means.
It’s important you don’t simply look to stay on par with your competitors. What you really should be doing is keeping up with customer expectations. If that means you’re strides ahead of your rivals, all the better.
Amazon consistently tops the polls when it comes to great customer service. They never fail to treat people like ‘people’, with care and respect.
Think carefully about your own experiences. Which company has impressed you the most? Whoever it may be, you can use this as a benchmark to mark your own business by.
Realising that customer service could be the most important function at your hotel, helps you to start building a reputation for excellence.
Aim for consistency
Everyone has off days and one day it’s going to happen to your staff or yourself at some stage. Going the extra mile will just seem like too much effort. But your hotel must strive to make these days few and far between. Not all customers will notice a slip-up, but many will and that could be all it takes to lose a guest for life.
To help avoid lapses make sure attention to detail is a priority at all times. You also need to make it fun, not only for guests but for yourself. If staff are enjoying their working environment it will show in their performance and vice versa.
The more guests you can leave a great impression on the more likely it is some of them will become free ‘brand ambassadors’, recommending your hotel to people they know and sharing their experience on social media. They’ll even spend more while at the property too!
Think considerately about what customers want
Often businesses don’t take enough time to truly understand the needs and desires of customers. Rather they offer what they themselves perceive to be of value, and often it’s too surface level.
For instance, when thinking about the hotel’s budget spend, and also the money a guest is paying, what’s going to provide the most value? It’s much more likely to be a high quality bed or bathroom than a smart TV or automatic blinds. Comfort is essential for travellers who want to spend the majority of their time relaxing. Getting the simple things perfectly right is usually what guests will love, as it appeals to their basic human needs.
Don’t be shy in asking for constant feedback and discovering what the guests at your hotel appreciate the most and what you can do to improve their stay next time.
Have flexibility when it comes to service
Sometimes solving a problem for a customer or making their stay as good as it possibly can be requires something out of the ordinary. Great customer service shouldn’t be dictated by company policies or rules all the time. Staff should have a certain amount of freedom in this instance to do what they feel is necessary to make a guest happy.
When things go wrong, or a guest makes a complaint a certain amount of creativity is going to be needed to get things back on track. The more effort a staff member is able to put in, the more likely it is that a guest will give the business a second chance or change their negative feedback to a positive review.
Permeate your management with a customer-centric approach
Hotel managers might not always have a lot of direct contact with customers, but it’s vital they keep in touch with their requirements. Consider this advice from customer THINK:
- Keep your ear to the ground
Even the highest level personnel should spend time at customer service desks to see how staff operate and what guests are experiencing and requesting
- Innovate with the focus on the customer
This comes back to thinking more about the customer than your competitors. If you have an idea about what you can do to improve guest experience but no one else is doing it, it doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea. It could be the idea that sets the trend.
- It starts from the top
The more emphasis the hotel owner or manager puts on customer service, the more engaged staff will be in delivering great service. It can’t be stressed enough that guests are the most important part of the hotel business.