Being Hospitable: Customer Service…the Engine That Powers the Hospitality Industry

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Hospitality 2Customer 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

Allen Fitzhugh is Director of Sales at Candlewood Suites-Memphis. He can be reached at dos@cwsmemphis.com.

 

 

Okay, Ol’ Codger. You’ve Lost Your Job. Now What?

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unemployedTwo weeks ago today, on April 1st, I joined the ranks of the unemployed, due to a Budget Cut.

In years past, this would have been tough. Now, it is tougher. You see, I’m 55 years old.

Being a writer, and someone to whom performing research comes as naturally as breathing in and out, I immediately performed a Google Search, on “Being Unemployed Over 50”. I found an article on the subject , posted in 2012 on forbes.com, which included this hardly-inspiring little ray of sunshine:

For older workers who lose their jobs, the statistics are not very encouraging. Though the unemployment rate for people over 55 is just 5.9%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, several points lower than the overall rate of 8.1%, when older workers lose their jobs they are out of work for a long time, according to the AARP Public Policy Institute. In May, 54.9% of job seekers over 55 had been looking for 27 weeks or more. According to the Institute, on average, unemployed people over 55 have been out of work for more than a year—56 weeks. Also, as my colleague Ashlea Ebeling wrote in May, the Urban Institute released a report showing that median monthly earnings fell 23% after an unemployment spell for reemployed workers aged 50 to 61, compared with just 11% for workers aged 25 to 34.

Yeehaw. Okay, so what should I do? I mean, I can only watch “Walker, Texas Ranger” and “In The Heat of The Night” reruns so many times. Besides, I keep remembering the mug shots of the late Howard Rollins, from the time he was arrested for Substance Abuse while wearing women’s clothing. It was not a pretty sight.

But, I digress…

The Forbes Article goes on to feature stories from  Renée Rosenberg, a career counselor who specializes in over-50 job seekers. She is the author of Achieving the Good Life After 50, and a coach with the national career coaching organization.

According to Ms. Rosenberg, and the writer of the article, Susan Adams,

Often older workers need to adjust their expectations and consider jobs outside their area of expertise. Sometimes this means swallowing a pay cut, but it can also mean taking a job that is more low key and located closer to home. One of Rosenberg’s clients, at 68, lost his finance job in a downsizing. He realized he wanted to walk to work in his New York suburb. While poking around his neighborhood he saw a help wanted sign in a storefront. He inquired, and landed a job as a dispatcher for a limousine and car service. The job isn’t glamorous but it meets his financial needs and keeps him close to home.

In other words, grab whatever you can. If I was in my late 60s, I would probably follow those ladies’ advice.

However, I am not. I am only 55. I believe that I still have a lot to offer an employer.

The only problem is, will the employers see it that way?

I believe, as a “Marketing Guru”, that it is all a mater of how you package…or repackage yourself.

“Back in the day”, I was extremely proficient at what is now known as the “Old Technology” (“B.D.” : Before Digital).

I realized, at 50 years old, that I needed to “catch up” with Technology, in order to make myself more marketable, so, I accepted a job as a Computer Intern with Digital Opportunity Trust.

Digital Opportunity Trust was a Non-profit Organization which originated in Canada. When it came to America, it located in Picayune, Mississippi, as a part of AmeriCorps.  It’s mission was, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, to go into the public schools in Louisiana and Mississippi, and teach the Administrators, Teachers, and Students how to use the New Technology (Twitter, Facebook, Skype, blogging, etc.) as Educational Tools, in order to improve the educational process.

While DOT is no longer with us, due to their funding being eliminated by the Federal Government, the importance of their mission lives on, as many school districts now have their own New Technology Instructors,

By taking “one step back” and becoming an Intern at 50 years old, I was able to re-invent myself, making my job skills more marketable.

If you are my age, and you, too, are in search of a new job opportunity, my advice to you is…

If there is an opportunity to update your skills, take it. You are never to old to learn and to grow from the learning.

Never give up. Never surrender.

Allen