The importance of customer service
The service your guests receive will often be the most memorable part of their stay. Few people will return by choice or recommend a hotel where they have experienced poor service. The hotel industry is highly competitive and to be successful you need to be focused on improving customer service.
We will all have very different ideas of what we would consider to be great service but the important thing to consider is what your guests expect and how they would define great service. What is the style of your hotel, and how is this reflected in the way you serve your guests? There’s often a fine line between uninterested or unreceptive and being over attentive and bordering on being intrusive. There’s then striking a balance between formality and over familiarity.
Once you have determined this there are a number of things that can assist in providing your customers with the best service.
Recruitment of staff
Once you know what level of service you’re looking for, you’re in a much better position to get your staff on board. The first thing is to get the recruitment right. Skills can often be developed by training but it is much more difficult to change a person’s attitude. An eagerness to please people, a willingness to go the extra mile, and an enthusiasm to learn are all good attributes to look for at the recruitment stage.
Provide staff with training
Train and retrain your employees on the importance of offering good customer service. Consider offering some kind of reward to employees who go above and beyond for the guests at your hotel.
Evaluate your employees
This should include talking with their immediate supervisors and observing them while they work and interact with guests. Identify those who need additional training in customer service and also those who deserve to be rewarded. Even verbal recognition of a job well done can help motivate your other employees to improve their customer service skills
Get feedback from your customers and staff
Offer guests discounts for their next visit in exchange for filling out a survey about their stay. Ask questions on the survey about their experience interacting with your employees and how they would rate the customer service in your hotel.
If a guest mentions a negative experience, ask your employees what they would have done in that situation to make the guest happy. Training your employees to deal with real situations will give them the skills they need to offer truly exceptional customer service.
Encourage your team to come forward with their own ideas of how customer service can be improved and make every effort to take their ideas on board where appropriate. This gives the team a sense of ownership and pride which will inevitably have a positive knock-on effect on your guests.
Lead by example
Your personality is part of the business. Making yourself visible in your hotel and engaging with your guests not only builds rapport and trust with them, but sets the tone and example for your team to follow. If you hide yourself away in the office, or seldom even visit the hotel, this sends the message that it’s okay to hide away from guests.
Talking to your guests is far the best way to get feedback, and they may tell you things that they wouldn’t feedback to your team. Get to know your guests personally; their likes and dislikes, their routine, their suggestions, their network. All this not only builds rapport but makes it a lot easier for you to tailor your offer and service to meet your guests’ needs and expectations.
Finally, remember service should be seamless, and to achieve this the entire team must support one another. Encourage staff to take ownership when necessary, rather than passing the buck. Allocate responsibilities to specific team members to conduct briefings, training, collate feedback and suggestions. This spreads the responsibility, gets everyone involved, ensuring these happen even when you’re not there.