A hotel truly striving to build a “world-class” service culture will make every effort to develop service standards that emphasize exceptional service for every customer. One key factor that separates good service from truly exceptional service is consistency. Consistency means repeatable. A successful hotel general manager needs to be confident that the hotel staff knows how to respond and act appropriately in any given situation. Whether it’s in the morning or afternoon or evening, whether it’s a weekend or a weekday, rain or shine, and regardless of whom happens to be working that day.
In an industry where service is king, the value of delivering a great guest experience is familiar territory to hoteliers. The new social and professional realities and innovative technologies that can boost hotel efforts to facilitate an unforgettable guest experience in an increasingly competitive marketplace are less known.
1. Treat every guest like a VIP
We can’t all be celebrities, CEO’s, or royalty, but treat every guest like a VIP, and we guarantee it will be a memorably positive experience they will want to repeat. Coach your staff to be attentive, responsive and have a sense of urgency for everyone, regardless of their “status”. In return, your guests will reward you with their patronage, loyalty and – even better – referrals. A bonus: when guests feel wonderful and special, secondary factors that may pop up become much more minor (e.g., a small room, mediocre location, etc.
2. Make training an everyday priority and not just a one-time event
This can seem like mission impossible in an industry where most staff already works above and beyond reasonable hours. New technologies that offer high-quality training that doesn’t require a lengthy time commitment come to the rescue. An increasing number of hotels are seeing the benefits of blending traditional employee training methods with just-in-time training solutions such as Performance Support Systems (PSS). How do these systems work?
For example, let’s take that you have just implemented a new Property Management System. To get your front desk agents up to speed, you could: have them participate in classroom training seminars, complete lengthy e-learning modules, or – worst case scenario – toss them in headfirst and have them call the helpdesk if they can’t figure it out while the guest is standing there waiting. Instead, you can use Performance Support to guide your hotel staff on the live application (in this case, your PMS).
Performance Support is an application that uses visual recognition technologies to “see” the PMS screen just as the user does and constantly monitors the agent’s activities to provide real-time guidance. It can be designed to display balloon tips relevant to the agent’s open and active window. These tips guide the agent on what to ask the guest, questions, troubleshooting, and alerts for critical fields or wrongly entered information. More sophisticated systems such as Leo Performance Support also offer automation.
3. Provide personalized customer service
Consistency does not mean that every guest should get the same service. True service excellence requires personalization and making each customer feel as though there is no one else, at that moment, more important than him or her. Front desk attendants who recognize you or call you by name eager to help remember your preferences and provide valuable information are huge assets that make a big difference.
The same performance support technology that you use for just-in-time training can also provide personalized customer service at the highest level. Performance Support works in conjunction with your Property Management System to analyze the guest’s profile. It makes knowledge and information extremely accessible by displaying overlaid tooltips on top of the application itself, at the moment of need, so that agents can focus on engaging with guests on a personal level…to create lasting impressions.
4. Create a positive start for new employees
Recent studies show that employee turnover is among the highest in the hospitality industry, with the average employee turnover in the US reaching 31 per cent and as high as 34 per cent in the UK. This constant churn is very disruptive and leads to loss of productivity, low morale and poor customer service – not to mention hurting the bottom line. To combat this epidemic, leading hotels are rethinking their onboarding approach.
Onboarding surveys by the Center for Creative Leadership reveal that new employees who attended a well-structured onboarding program were 69% more likely to remain at a company for up to three years. While previous new-employee initiation programs were one-day affairs, today, a strong onboarding strategy extends past the first day/week/month to include an ongoing approach that will accompany the employee throughout the employment lifetime and support them to achieve better job performance.
5. Update your technology toolbox
Hospitality may be one of the oldest businesses globally. Still, in this day and age, it should come as no surprise that hotel efforts can only reach their fullest potential by adding modern technology. Hotels are fast adopting hotel management software like property management systems (PMS) to streamline the check-in and check-out process, generate financial reports, manage staff and automate daily tasks – saving time, relieving the hotel staff of the more tedious responsibilities and improving the guest experience. Taking it one step further, hotels that want to serve their staff and customers even better and get more ROI from their PMS systems are turning to Performance Support technology.
6. Take measure of your customer service performance.
Make efforts to determine how quickly you can address your guests’ requests and issues. According to one customer service survey, 69% of customers define “good” customer service as having their issue or problem addressed quickly and efficiently. With Performance Support solutions in place, hotel managers can rest assured that their staff has the knowledge they need right at their fingertips. Using context process guidance that adapts to the actual conversation, front desk agents who use performance support can quickly offer the best solution.
7. Tie your staff’s actions to the hotel’s overall performance
W. Edwards Deming, the father of the quality movement, famously laid out 14 points for management – chief among them is the concept of “constancy of purpose.” This means instilling purpose in your employees by showing them that what they do every day in the workplace has a big effect, impacting the guest experience and the hotel’s revenues. By tying individual behaviour to a larger system, you will give your employees a sense of how important it is to practice good quality service every day.