A hotel is only as good as the people who work there. Encouraging team members to concentrate on customer service will make a guest’s stay memorable.
As many of my clients are now preparing for the summer season, there is a big focus on pre-season training to ensure everyone can deliver an amazing customer experience. But telling them and showing them what they need to be doing is only a part of the process. Team members need to be actively engaged with delivering amazing customer experiences, not just working to a script or following a regimented formula.
Building on my 10-point plan for getting your team contributing to your marketing efforts, here are two components I see as critical to engaging your team.
Involvement and ownership
Motivate and encourage your team in making customer service a priority. Encourage your team to come forward with their own ideas of how customer service can be improved and make every effort to take their ideas on board where appropriate. This gives the team a sense of ownership and pride that will inevitably have a positive knock-on effect on your customers.
Encourage everyone in your team to take the entire customer journey so they see everything your customer sees from start to finish. This not only helps to open their eyes, but also it provides a great opportunity for you to get their feedback on what they see and what might be improved. It's easy for people to get blinkered when they work in the same department every day; this provides a fresh pair of eyes and a different perspective.
Service should be seamless. To achieve this, the whole team must support each another. Encourage team members to take ownership when necessary even when this isn’t normally part of their role.
Allocate responsibilities to specific team members to conduct briefings, training, collate feedback and suggestions. This spreads the responsibility and gets everyone involved, ensuring this happens even when you're not there.
Encourage staff to think ahead and anticipate a customer’s needs rather than waiting to be asked. Demonstrate your trust in the team by giving them responsibility and authority to respond to a customer’s expectations and requests in the way they see fit. Additionally, give your team permission to do something spontaneous if they see an opportunity to enhance the customer’s experience.
Giving your team the authority to deal with unplanned situations (including complaints) enables them to resolve issues quickly and with minimum fuss. This is far better for the customer as well as less effort in the long run for you and your team if they don’t need to find you or a manager. Telling a customer you don’t have the authority to deal with an issue is both frustrating for the customer and degrading for the team member.
Create a culture of continuous improvement by encouraging your staff to ask for guest feedback. When they receive favorable feedback, ask them to suggest ways to build or capitalize on this. When feedback is less favorable, ask them to come forward with their own suggestions of where and how things can be improved.
Finally, empower and encourage everyone in the team to be confident about making personal recommendations and suggestions to customers or doing something out of the ordinary for your customers that leaves them knowing they've received extraordinary customer service. It’s always the personal touches customers remember.
All this adds up ultimately to making your customer service memorable—for the right reasons.
Caroline Cooper is founder of Naturally Loyal who helps businesses to get more sales through their existing customers. Caroline specializes in working with hospitality tourism and leisure businesses, helping them build loyalty through giving customers outstanding experiences and staying on their radar to trigger repeat business. She is author of the ‘Hotel Success Handbook’.
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