Customer Service is important in any job in which you interface with the public. In the industry in which I work, the Hospitality Industry, excellent Customer Service Skills are essential in not only meeting, but exceeding the expectations of our guests.
Here is a great example of exemplary Customer Service, found at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, TN.
Family blogger Christina McMenemy (a.k.a A Mommy Story) was so wowed by the service at this Nashville hotel that she made a point of sharing her experience with her readers. Impressed by her hotel room clock radio — which also doubled as a relaxation sound machine — the mother of two asked the hotel where she could purchase one. When she was advised that the clock radios were unique to the hotel and weren’t available to the public, a disappointed McMenemy figured that was the end of that. However, when she later returned to her room that night, she found her very own clock radio waiting for her along with a handwritten card. As McMenemy puts it, “I would have been happy to pay for one of those clock radios, but the staff at Opryland took notice of just how much I loved this thing and went out of their way to make sure I had the best experience ever… [Opryland] reaffirmed that there are still companies out there focused on great service and you’ve made a lifelong fan out of me.”
So, how does a hotel achieve “Excellent Customer Service”?
Back in 2012, Forbes.com published the following “10 Keys of Excellent Customer Service”
1. Belief: What customers think is true. Unfortunately, it may not be supported by the facts. Understand that they will hold on to this truth and do not fight to change their mind. Apologize and then try to come up with a satisfactory solution.
2. Complain: What a customer does when they are unhappy. They complain to friends, on social media, and even sometimes to you. Your business reputation is only as good as your customer’s last experience. Everyone that interacts with your customers should understand this.
3. My Manager: The person the customer is seemingly always getting passed to or who always gets blamed by the employee if something goes wrong. See empowerment.4. Empowerment: Training employees to make decisions on their own to help a customer without talking to “the boss.” This needs to happen 95% of the time. The boss should only handle exceptions.
4. Empowerment: Training employees to make decisions on their own to help a customer without talking to “the boss.” This needs to happen 95% of the time. The boss should only handle exceptions.
5. Feedback: Giving the customer the opportunity to tell you what they think in many ways at different stages the transaction. Follow the Three Times Rule—if you hear something about your business three times, whether you like it or not, pay serious attention. It is probably true. Take action.
6. Kick the Cat: What employees do when they take their frustrations out on the customer. Find another way for employees to vent by encouraging easy feedback directly to management.
7. Mistake: The hardest thing for the company to admit. Once you admit it, the customer will be happier.
8. Overpromise: Making a commitment to a customer that the company is not economically able to keep. This is not a solid base for sustained excellent customer service.
9. Peer Reviews or Earned Media: Online references written by customers on the level of quality or service in your company. This is sometimes called an open reputation system.
10. Pest: A customer the company may need to fire to be more profitable. Be quick to identify and replace them.
Satisfied customers are looking for a memorable experience and an energetic service, where it matters the most: at a hotel property which they have chosen to be their “home away from home”.
Hotels need to be aware that, in this Digital Age, that it’s becoming more popular every day for guests to leave a review of their experience on a number of Travel Industry Websites, whether their experience was a good or bad one.
Hotels have to stay mindful of this fact of life, as bad feedback can be extremely damaging.
While any business needs to keep customers and clients happy, those of us working the Hospitality Industry must strive to keep guests engaged in order to garner repeat business and also, for referral purposes.
For the customer to return to your hotel on a regular basis, first you must deliver on your promises.
And then, you must exceed them.
Never give up. Never surrender.
Allen Fitzhugh is Director of Sales at Candlewood Suites-Memphis. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.