Customer service has always been one of the pillars of a successful hotel. However, following the recession and the rise of social media, it has become more vital than ever. Not only do customers expect more for their money while hotels are compelled to be smarter with their cash flow, but unhappy customers can air their grievances to thousands of fellow travellers through platforms such as TripAdvisor and Facebook.
Offering fantastic customer service is something that encourages repeat bookings, attracts new clients, helps you stand out from your competition, encourages positive feedback and helps minimise poor reviews. For your hotel to truly excel at customer service, commitment is essential, but the steps to excellence are often quite simple in themselves.
Here are some simple yet incredibly effective ways to improve your hotel’s service.
Encourage staff commitment
The importance of committed customer-facing staff cannot be stressed enough. This is true of any business, but particularly in the hotel industry, where the impression employees create has such a strong impact on customers’ perceptions of the hotel. Of course, the most effective way of ensuring you have staff committed to offering the very best service is to be as selective as possible during the hiring process. However, it’s also important to maintain staff motivation, so you could consider looking into employee reward schemes and other incentives for providing great service to guests.
Offer thorough training
The perfect partner to dedicated employees is thorough training, which allows their passion for good service to be matched by the ability to provide it. Training should not be limited to the customer service skills, but anything that makes them more effective at their job, such as training on processes and procedures. All staff should be on the same page when it comes to these processes in order to provide consistently good-quality service.
Go the extra mile
When it comes to making your hotel stand out from your competitors, outstanding service is a real winner. Guests expect friendly, competent service from their hotel staff as standard, which means your establishment needs to be more than ‘good’. Exceptional service, where employees go beyond the call of duty, is what will make guests rave about your hotel – and what will net you more future custom. Of course, if you want your staff to go the extra mile, you need to empower them to do so. Giving them the freedom to make judgements on what is needed in individual situations, as well as the power to do things like deal with complaints and waive certain charges without conferring with management staff can make a huge difference to customer experience by reducing waiting times and portraying a helpful, effective image.
Dedicate ample time to online customer service
With the power of social media able to improve or damage your hotel’s reputation, online customer service has never been so important. There are several facets to this: firstly, monitoring online platforms for reviews and real-time complaints; secondly, ensuring any grievances are dealt with quickly; thirdly, assessing the feedback to see whether any of it can inform improvements to your service. For simplicity’s sake, it can be useful to set up a Google Alert for your hotel name, which means you will be informed when customers post reviews of your establishment. You can also conduct regular checks of popular review sites, while daily monitoring of any social media pages you run is essential. The latter point is particularly important, as a slow reply or – even worse – a total lack of response is likely to net you even more bad feedback. Listen to your customers…All staff need to be happy to listen to your customers, whether they are simply asking for a little advice on the local area or they have a complaint. For many people, feeling their grievances are being listened to and taken seriously is as important – and in many cases more so – as the issue being fixed. So, make sure all staff are happy to listen and speak to customers. It can be intimidating for some employees, but remind them that they don’t need to have all the answers at their fingertips (although that’s certainly a plus!). Simply listening to customer issues and providing an honest reply – even if this is just a time frame by which someone will get back to them – goes a long way.… And to your employees
Excelling at hotel service means never resting on your laurels. So, no matter how fantastic a customer experience your staff provide, encourage them to be ever-vigilant for ways to improve. Indeed, as they are interacting with not only customers but your hotel’s processes and procedures on a day-to-day basis, your employees will typically have the best ideas about how to improve. Listen to them!