Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Higher customer service leads to higher revenue, profits & fun

Companies adapt different business models: the four listed below have been shared by Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO.

  • Competitor focus
  • Product focus
  • Business model focus
  • Customer focus
The companies that perform best in terms of revenue, profit, customer satisfaction and staff retention, are customer-focused and in the hotel environment, delight their guests and clients.

Check out Chris’s regular commentary in Resort News, the monthly Aussie accom industry bible. 

Customer culture

Commitment to customer service is a mindset and philosophy that not only makes work fun, but guests like it and it results in repeat and direct business. It can be totally cost-free or you may like to allocate a monthly budget that can vary depending on the level of occupancy. Training staff in customer service techniques should be incorporated into the business. Training can either be developed inhouse or purchased. Hotels can also develop ‘train the trainer’ modules, where staff can train other staff on how to serve guests. Once you have a good and dedicated staff, you should empower them: “Problems should be solved on the spot, as soon as they arise. No front-line employee should have to wait for a supervisor’s permission.” This is what Jan Carlzon said in his management classic, Moment of Truth.

People do business with people they like

The first step is to have the right staff, who will go the extra mile and thrive on client and guest interaction. Treat your staff well and they in turn will treat guests even better. This also helps to retain them and prolong the longevity of their employment. Repeat guests love to be recognised by the hotel staff, who also serve them better as they know their needs.

Customer service touch points

Service delivery should be structured and incorporated into daily work. Segmenting ‘touch points’ allows for better management of customer service in a measurable way. In the hotel environment, these touch points are: (1) viewing the hotel on either the hotel’s website or an online travel agent’s (OTA), wholesaler’s brochure or any other material and making a booking; (2) arriving at the hotel; (3) check-in; (4) stay; (5) check-out; (6) departure.

Any time the hotel interacts with any member of the public via billboard, presentation of the exterior, brochure or any advertising, people form consciously and subconsciously a perception that may influence their decision when they are ready to book a hotel or a restaurant. As an example, if you manage a hotel with 100 rooms or apartments and have an annual occupancy of 75 percent, you will have 164,250 interactions with your quests.

At certain hotels I worked at, we ran  a Monthly Guest Satisfaction Index based on quests comments that worked on a 100-point score. It gave us a matrix and pointed to areas that required improvement on a continuous basis.

Guest history function

When selecting a property management software (PMS), you should pay attention to the quality of the guest history function and how it is integrated with the reservation function.

This will allow your staff to offer a much higher level of service to repeat guests, as they can see previously booked rooms and requests. This will give you and your staff the tools to anticipate guests needs before they ask!

Enhance guests’ stay

There is a range of simple things we can do to enhance a guest’s stay, and here is a potpourri of some of them:

  1. Coffee machine in the lobby in the morning
  2. Iced water with tropical fruit or mint in the lobby
  3. Continental breakfast included in the room tariff
  4. Large screen in the lobby with news in the morning
  5. Upgrade for repeat or VIP guests
  6. Late check-out or early check-in for repeat or VIP guests
  7. Bowl of apples on the reception counter
  8. Express check-in and express check-out
  9. Oshibori or small hot or cold towels on the counter to refresh
  10. Allow another company supply tours and attractions on your website
  11. Offer drink vouchers in the morning if there is a long queue of people checking out
  12. Offer drink vouchers with dinner

You can use them selectively and when you want. In the morning during checkout, I would talk to guests to get their comments on what they liked and did not like during their stay and why they booked with us. This information was invaluable as it made our marketing much better and more targeted. I also monitored the arrival list to see if there were any guests and organisations with high potential to secure a new account with, or to grow their business.

Technology-enhanced customer service

Use TV to welcome guests and allow them to check out from the comfort of their own room and monitor their bill. One time, I stayed in a Hong Kong hotel and upon arrival, there was a bowl of nashi, apples and oranges. I ate only nashi and six months later, upon check-in, I found a bowl of just nashi. To offer this level of service, a hotel needs a good PMS and a team dedicated to customer service. I was so impressed, that I must have told 100 people and must have stayed there a dozen times.

The six levels of service

This is taken from Uplifting Service, The Proven Path to Delighting Your Customers, Colleagues, and Everyone Else You Meet by Ron Kaufman and his international bestseller on service and outlines the level of service.

  • Criminal – breaks a service promise
  • Basic – basic service is disappointing
  • Expected – nothing special
  • Desired – it gives them what they value in the manner they desire
  • Surprising – it is something special, like unexpected gift
  • Unbelievable – it is astonishing and fantastic. This level of service people never forget.

Of course, if you do not serve a guest, you serve someone, who does.

About Chris Novak

Chris Novak
Chris Novak is Management Rights and Motel Broker with CBRE Hotels. He previously held positions as General Manager MLR complexes Australia-wide, Group General Manager Sales for Central Apartment Group, Senior VP for Tourico Holidays, Director of Sales for Hyatt Hotels and hotel general management roles.

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