Customer experience – which represent the sum of all experiences your customer have with your goods or service during their relationship with you as the provider.
Know what you are delivering
Do you have a clear image of what service you are capable of deliver to your customers?
The first part of creating a Superior Hotel Customer Experience is to start define what kind of customer service you are capable of deliver on a consistent basis.
Customer service – which represent the actual service for the customer before – during and after purchase of your goods or service. Each activity represent the feeling if your goods or service has met the customer expectation.
Delivering great customer service is one thing, but do it consistently is what will make the difference.
Your guest will arrive with a image of their expectation of what kind of service your hotel delivers, and there should be no doubt in your mind if you are capable of meeting this image.
If your guest arrives with a image you are not capable meeting, never come up with excuses. Be honest with the customer service you are capable of delivering.
If you have a walk-in customer requesting a room with jacuzzi or ocean view, and you know your hotel don’t have rooms with jacuzzi or ocean view then this is a service your hotel is not capable of delivering.
When guest arrives with similar images and you can’t meet them always apologize for the inconvinience. Then inform you are not capable of meeting their expectations, and then provide alternatives. Offer to check other hotels in the area to find out if they can meet your guests expectations, and then ask your guest if you find hotel that meet their expectation if they want you to see if hotel can provide a courtesy hold on the room.
Telling the guest to take a ‘hike’ in a extraordinary way can turn a potentially bad situation into something superior. This can only be done when you have a clear image of what you are capable of delivering.
Many managers misunderstand what it means to over-deliver. Do not try to over-deliver on a service your hotel is not providing, but provide extraordinary of what service your hotel is capable of delivering.
Expand your creativity of what you are capable of delivering
If your in-house guest comes down to your front office and have forgot their toothbrush and toothpaste, this is a service you are capable of providing. Here you might have to be a little creative if your Hotel don’t have these items. These are items that is possible to get from a close convenient store, or gas station. If it is a distance to the nearest convenient store or gas station and you know that you want be capable of deliver it while you are on duty be honest. But offer the guest that you will pick it up after you done at your shift, and leave it at Front Desk in envelop with name and room-number for pickup.
Create your own little Guest Note Book and write events like this down, then next time you are prepared and have brought with you some of the most requested items.
What if guest has forgot shoes, ties, shirt etc.? These are all things that you are capable of delivering with some creativity.
Extra special service is when you get creative and go that extra mile for your guest.
Trust what you can deliver – do not only rely on surveys and comment cards
What if your guest are only satisfied because their expectations are so low and because no one else is delivering any better.
When you receive a survey and all you see is that the guest has marked 10 all over the line – how does this make you feel? Maybe you think WOW we really delivered some extraordinary service here.
But does surveys or comment card always reflect the true experience of the guest?
Here I my answer is NO. To me 10 on a survey reflects really extraordinary service. And though there are many hotels that really deliver some great service there is not many that is capable of deliver customer service at that level over and over again.
If someone gives your hotel a 10, you so should then really put effort in getting more information from that guest to learn what events caused him or her to be this satisfied. And the same effort should be put in when there is several areas with low rating.
Many surveys tend to be just one way instead utilize the opportunity to ask a guest that has actually taken time to point out some areas of concerns or quality.
A 10 can put you in confidence zone that is not true to the service you actually are delivering. Consistency again is the key – you want to provide consistent great service over time, and be confident that your hotel is capable of deliver the same great service over and over again. If all surveys that comes in gives you an 8 this would tell me that you provide great service on a consistent bases, but that there is room for improvements.
I know that there are inspectors that will come from time to time to check on the quality of your service, and sometimes you also will have secret shoppers. If you know that you are capable of delivering consistent great service then they would experience the same as your guests.
Some might ask should we drop surveys and comment cards. Again my answer is NO. Feedback is very important. Use surveys and comment cards as supplements to make minor adjustments where needed. Surveys or comment cards is no good if you don’t utilize them no matter if you get a 10 or a 1.
Adjust your customer service to what actually is happening
As I said consistency is the key to success. But you have to know if the scale is tipping the right way.
Consistency is present when there is harmony between what you conduct and proper correspondence among related aspects.
Consistent superior customer service comes as a result of the ability to adapt to change, and make proper adjustments.
In every aspect of delivering superior customer service there will be several hurdles to pass. Be aware of that these hurdles exists, and know how to handle them.
It just like playing chess, you have to be able to change game play during the chess game if your initial game play is not working. The game is still the same, you have just adapted to the process and made adjustments within the same window of opportunity. If you are losing the game then be honest with yourself, and learn from this experience.
It comes a time when you can tell your customer that you are not able to meet their expectation, but you will be more then happy to provide them with some referrals that will help them make a proper decision based on their expectations. Always offer then to assist them calling relevant hotels, and ask if they want you to request a courtesy hold if their requirements is meet.
You are only able to adjust your customer service to what actually is happening, when you know what you are capable of delivering.
Learn what your customer wants
a. You have to know what you are capable of delivering
b. Learn what your customer really wants
c. Tell customer to go elsewhere
The simplest way to find out what your customers want – is to ask them. And to ask them you need to know who they really are.
Who are the customers that is most likely to utilize your product?
Proper Market Segmentation is the key to learn who your real customer base are. This should include elements like; Population – Ethnic makeup – geographic distribution and densities – age makeup – personal disposable income – education levels – occupation type – household makeup – workforce makeup – type and cost of housing etc.
When you ask your customer what they want, you have to know how to listen.
Do your customer say one thing, but mean something else? Do ‘Everything was fine’ really means ‘Everything was fine’? Does No Response means that guest expectations was meet?
Today with Internet and Social Media customers utilize an abundance of listening tools to express themselves. Learn how to utilize these listening tools. These are great resources to find out what your customers really want.
A Superior Hotel Customer Experience is the goal both for the Hotel and the customer. You need to start defining your listening outposts.
Here are tips on sample listening outposts:
- Hotel/Hospitality Blogs
- Google Reader
- Twitter + Twitter Search
- Google Search + Google Blog Search
- Hotel Events
- Hotel Newsletters
- Hotel Magazines
These are just some of the great listening outpost I utilize, and that assist me finding and researching quality information from potential customers. I also utilize traditional research material, and adding surveys on your blog is also a great way to get additional information. Be creative, and utilize all the great tools that is available for you out there.
6. Deliver a little extra
If your customer has been burned before they are naturally resistant. Consistency will overcome this resistance over time.
By now you should know what you are capable of delivering, and what your customers really want. Now it is time to start over-deliver within your window of opportunity.
Remember over-deliver do not mean to deliver more then you are capable of delivering. You are pretty much starting from scratch. So train and focus on helping your employees improve one percent every week. Focus on one project every week and involve your employee in every aspect. Example: Let us show our guest and fellow employees our new xxx Hotel Smile this week. Observe reactions both on guest and employees. What kind of feedback did you receive? What can be done better? How did it effect you?
One simple rule your Hotel should start to enforce is to start Treat Your Employee exactly as your would treat your best customers. This will make a great impact delivering superior customer service.
With treating your employees this way: you will create a great team spirit – you can provide great training – you know that you have the right tools in place – you can then develop your employee into a valuable customer service representative. If your employees and Hotel improve one percentage every week – you have the ability to improve 50% within one year.
Creating a consistent Superior Customer Experience require that you are willing to go into the process with an open mind, and be willing to listen.
What have you done at your Hotel to create a superior Customer Experience?