One of the industries most sensitive to customer service errors is hospitality. If they get something wrong their clients will tell them immediately.
This is a great opportunity, since it gives them the chance to respond appropriately and save their reputation. However, it also means that they have had to adapt to being not just reactive but also proactive.
If you would like to see what you can learn from how they meet some of these challenges read on.
This past week I was in Miami and had the chance to visit and stay in various hotels both at the beach as well as in the financial district. With a presentation to give in January on the hospitality industry (more about that next month), I wanted to get some true-life stories from the people on the ground. Their comments and ideas were so inspiring, I thought it would be useful for us all to consider some of their solutions, even if we are not in the hospitality industry. Their businesses depend on excellent customer service; shouldn’t ours as well?
#1. Know your client
They all spoke about the importance of knowing whom they are serving. Are their guests on business or vacation? These two groups have very different needs and dem ands, and so it is vital that the purpose of their visit is clearly understood in order to better serve them.
Ask yourself: These hotels start with a simple two cluster analysis and then group each of these into subgroups. What does your own segmentation tell you? Is it too complex to be actionable? Would a simpler approach such as the one these hotels are using help? Check our website for more about customer targeting and segmentation.
#2. Imagine the clients’ needs before they ask
Another interesting similarity between these professionals is their pride in underst anding their clients’ needs. They actually feel that they haven’t done their best if a client has to ask for something.
Ask yourself: Are you continually updating your knowledge about your customers’ changing needs in order to anticipate them? If you develop a process to satisfy them but don’t adapt with each new learning, then you risk losing a deeper underst anding. More about this topic here.
#3. The buck stops with the person listening
The banquet manager at one of the hotels talked about the importance of representing the Hotel to ensure the clients’ needs are met. He said that telling a client that something is not his job / responsibility is unacceptable. Whomever the client is speaking with is the company (hotel in this case) (>>Click to Tweet<<) from his perspective, so the employee cannot just pass responsibility to someone else to get rid of the issue.
Ask yourself: Do clients get passed from one person to the other when they call your company? Does everyone underst and that it is their responsibility to find a solution to each client’s issue? They should only transfer them to someone else to resolve the client’s problem, once they have established that this is the right person to solve it. Read the 5 steps to customer care excellence for an example of simplified contact management.
#4. Speak to the decision maker
Another topic the banqueting manager mentioned was to always speak to the decision maker, not (only) the person making an order. For example, if it’s a wedding he speaks to the bride directly, not just the groom or the parents, even if they are the ones paying.
Ask yourself: Do you underst and the purchase decision journey of your clients? If the end user and purchaser are different people, you will need to underst and them both; (>>Click to Tweet<<) their reasons for using / buying the product they choose and how they came to make that decision.
#5. Your checklist is the start not the end
Most hotel departments now work with checklists, just like pilots. Whether it is reservations, the room cleaning, or meeting management, these lists have been built up over time to ensure that nothing essential is forgotten. However, if your customer service experts are still working to scripts, then their connection will seem false and uncaring in the eyes of your customer.
Ask yourself:Are all your scripts, processes and checklists absolutely necessary? Could you give your employees more responsibility and freedom to satisfy your customers? If you are concerned that they may take too many liberties and initiatives, you could set limits, such as decisions that cost less than a certain limit. As your confidence in their decision-making ability grows, you can increase this limit. And this makes good business sense. In Temkin’s 2012 Employee Engagement Benchmark Study, they found that highly engaged employees are more committed to helping their companies succeed.
If you work in the hospitality industry I would love to hear your comments and ideas on the above. Would you add any other points? If you work in a different industry, I hope these comments inspire you to make your own customer services more caring and that the questions posed make you think about what we can learn from this industry that is not called hospitality for nothing. Shouldn’t we all be in a hospitable business?
Would you like to know just how customer centric you really are? Complete the C3Centricity Evaluator (it’s FREE to C3Centricity Members) and receive a summary report with suggested actions to take.
For more ideas about how to put your customer at the heart of your own business, please check out our website here: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engage