Last month, I spoke at the Hotel Summit in London on the role of your team in either helping or hindering your marketing efforts.
It doesn't matter how much you spend on your marketing strategy, how great your search engine optimization is, how exemplary your online reviews are or how much money you spend on your refurbishment. At the end of the day if your customers get anything less than great service, you won't retain them and you're back to square one.
So who is responsible for ensuring your guests get a fantastic experience? We all know it’s everyone—not just front of house. But does every position get the same focus when it comes to the impact they have on customer care?
Here’s my 10-point plan to get your team fully contributing to your marketing efforts:
Define your values. What is important to you, and what is important to your ideal guests? Ensure these two are in alignment, or you’ll have a tough time being authentic. Then put systems and resources in place to enable everyone to live by these values.
I know it’s a bit of a cliché to say recruit on attitude, but I do believe it’s key. Only recruit people who can live by your values. If the values that are important to you aren’t important to your team members, you will be fighting a losing battle to get them to live up to them.
Your team needs to understand your values and what these mean in practical terms—not just a list of words. Discuss your expectations. What will your team be doing to achieve these? What are your non-negotiables? And then ensure there are no mixed messages; you set the example.
Train your team in the systems and framework, but leave them the freedom to work within this to show their own personality. This not only will mean they will appear more natural with your guests (we can all spot the scripted lines a mile off), but also it helps to build their confidence and encourages them to make decisions. If they know the result you are aiming for, it allows scope for creativity, too.
Give regular feedback and recognition when someone has shown excellent or even good examples of customer service to encourage more of the same. Encourage your team to evaluate their own performance too, so they get into the habit of learning from their experiences—successes and mistakes—and ensure your management team gives the appropriate support when needed.
Involve all your team in all stages of the customer journey. It will be easier for people from a different department to look at things from a customer’s perspective, so enable the kitchen team to see bedrooms and for reception to experience the restaurant (at breakfast as well as lunch and dinner) or have housekeeping review the website or test how easy it is to make a booking—either on or offline.
Identify and capitalize on your team’s strengths. Look for talent or skills in particular activities where individuals might have an opportunity to really shine. This builds pride in the job and a sense of responsibility. This offers an opportunity to do something different or special for your guests and something that helps keep your team members motivated.
Give your team the authority they need to make decisions based on their role and individual strengths. Nothing frustrates a customer more than being told by a staff member that they don’t have the authority to make a decision or approve a simple request, and even more so when the only person who can make the decision is nowhere to be found.
Give your team incentives to go the extra mile with your guests and build loyalty. I’m not talking about monetary rewards that are forgotten five minutes after they’ve been given, but things that show you really appreciate the efforts people have gone to. Sometimes a simple handwritten note from the GM or owner can make someone feel valued. Time off might be the most valuable reward you can give someone as a thank you. Or do something that’s a win-win such as dinner or an overnight stay in a sister (or competitor) hotel and have them share their observations with the rest of their team when they return. Find out what’s of value to them. Not everyone will be motivated by the same incentives.
Keep your team informed of anything that might impact your guests in any way. What’s happening where—both within the hotel and locally. Knowing what’s going on in your town or traffic conditions that might affect your guests’ onward journey can make all the difference, transforming a run-of-the-mill stay to a memorable one. Ask your team for their feedback too—capture guests’ feedback and suggestions on how service can be improved for future visits. Your team is much closer to your guests than you are and will see opportunities to enhance the customer experience, so ask for their ideas and be prepared to act on them.
All these activities will certainly have an effect on your guests’ experience and greatly contribute to your marketing efforts.
Caroline Cooper works with hospitality and leisure businesses, helping them get more of the customers they love, and keep them. She has over 26 year’ experience in hospitality and is author of the 'Hotel Success Handbook' For more information and articles from Zeal Coaching see http://www.zealcoaching.com/products-resources/
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