People with Disabilities: How is your Customer Service?

By Ellen L. Shackelford President, Connections Access Consulting Services, LLC (CACS) | November 01, 2010

What is customer service and how do guests, customers, or patrons expect to receive it when looking for quality service? It means something is expected. People travel all the time and stay in various types of hotels/motels; ones chosen over others are from their past experiences and the quality of service given to them. Customer service should be at the top of satisfaction when it comes to evaluation and response, for it gives inside information to business owners on how to address issues their customers have stated in response to the treatment or service they have received from their visit. With this in mind it is critical to have the staff trained in providing the service all quests should have when they are temporary residence at a particular venue.

Adults with disabilities travel often and enjoy staying in hotels/motels which cater to their unique and specific needs. They are seeking exceptional customer service as all guests hope to acquire. These questions on how to assist should be no different on how to address the concerns of any other guest intent on having a comfortable and memorable stay. People with disabilities desire the same products and service as other persons and deserve to be treated as viable consumers. The customer service experience begins at the initial consultation when the reservations are made. When the reservationists doesn't give the potential guest a chance to express all their concerns over the phone at the time of making the arrangements for a room, the guest can become disgruntled.

Good customer service becomes bad customer service when the employees do not want to take ownership for his/her actions in confronting the guest in the service and accommodations they require upon their stay. Making reservations can be daunting, when the person on the other line is rushing you through the call so they may get to the next. It is critical to make sure the customer on the telephone has had the opportunity to express their needs before the reservation has been completed. Great customer service comes from creating the right attitude within the organization. It then is trickled down to potential customers, who will be able to feel the sincerity and know they will be taken care of once their reservations had been made. Customer service which is geared to star treatment, keeps customers coming back and word of mouth advertising from their experience will be passed onto others.

Upon my travels I tend to stay at five star hotels with full service. The customer service is a determining factor more than the dynamics of the makeup of the hotel/motel. One particular hotel which is my choice of repeat stay is one which offers exceptional customer service which begins at the reservation stage. The reservationists are knowledgeable of my unique needs and ask if there are additional ones they should know about to help make my stay more accommodating. This is certainly a must for people with disabilities, for each person has different levels of needs and accommodations in order to help make their experience a comfortable one. In this venue my reservations are made smoothly; questions asked are ones which will demonstrate how versed the staff is with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It is so impressive when I hear them repeat what I have requested in terms of accommodations, and if what I have asked is something which is not available the staff works diligently to provide reasonable expectations.

Once the reservation process has been completed, the staff then pass the call over to their ADA department to verify the reservation for clarity and to ask if there is any additional information needed to make the stay more enjoyable. With this type of customer service, perspective guests with disabilities have a sense of security and confidence; the experience will be memorable one, which will make the person return. Loyalty is a critical factor when a business goal is retention. When guests decide to stay at a particular hotel or motel, they want to be treated with sincerity, dignity, honesty, and compassion. It is up to the management and staff to make accommodations and assure the venue is accessible for all persons with unique needs.

When I decide to stay at any hotel or motel it is my optimal goal to assure my safety and accommodations are adequate. The price is a minimal factor when I've been thought of in the planning stages of accommodations.

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Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.