Managing Service Issues During the Guest Stay Before it Reaches Social Media

By Marco Albarran Managing Director, Remarkable Hospitality, Inc. | October 27, 2013

This article, especially the title, suggests service issues as the percentage of actual negative events that can potentially place your business in a detrimental situation. This will help eliminate the need to be consistently investing time, resources and money on monitoring and having to resolve social media sites for inconsistently or negative situations that they can prevent. Dealing with guest challenges can be done proactively by applying certain operating service standards, best suited for the brand and scale, that will prevent normal issues, but we also encounter a lack of consistency and follow up on these proactive service practices. Hence, we get a dissatisfied guest. In reality, the overall sense of general service knowledge, which has been created based on prior experience and social customer expectations, has been the overall reasoning behind all of this expectation levels. That said service recovery needs to be implemented right away, while the guest or customer is experiencing the service. If we donít, what happens? Well, guests pull out their Smartphone and post their experience right away in social media sites of their choice, right?

We observe that this (service awareness) may be common sense to our employees, being that they are, in everyoneís expectations and eyes, in a hospitality industry environment, and that they know that they are being watched constantly as to how they perform and give the guest the appropriate attention. It is amazing to see the small fundamental practices, like the 10/5 rule, which have explained in more detailed in prior articles, are not being implemented. Why does the guest need to start the conversation and not the guest service or hospitality professional? What percentages of these are actually aware of this? The word aware is what we can use as a powerful term here. As a reminder of this, the aware hospitality employee may be busy; however, they are knowledgeable and also in tuned with their surroundings and have developed a sense of confidence which can be used to resolve any sort of situation that may arise. We have also expressed in previous articles about the fact that going through an experience (a moment of truth) and documenting this as a case study that can be used as constant training with your team, can help develop their overall understanding of how to resolve not only an issue similar to the one being analyzed, but ten or twenty-like/similar situations like this. These are jus some ideas that will help your organization apply themselves as a high function team, which will deliver the appropriate service levels which are expected of a guest who has done their research, have compared you to the competition and have considered monetary and experience value, even before arrival. Naturally, this is all done mostly via Internet.

With this said, a handful of tips we have applied in the field have worked well for those who have implemented them. Perhaps some of these ideas may actually assist you or perhaps motivate you and your team to brainstorm similar concepts that can work best for your establishment. A third eye can always assist and advise as well.

Apply Fundamental Techniques of Service Before Anything Else

The application of service fundamentals, which are safety, cleanliness and comfort, should always be used as the base. These are the explanations that guests will expect and are most common knowledge or sense. It is interesting that if you see negative comments on any social media site that usually the poor scores tend to reflect these fundamentals. So, the easiest thing to improve your chances of not falling in this situation as a brand is to focus on this. Train your employees on these and do not let them forget this. Based on whatever your brand and location may be, then we build on this to ensure that you can provide any extra service enhancement that promote or position you accordingly. Now that we know this and will use it as a foundation, letís see some other advise that will help you.

Technology and How Automation Should then Help Us Train on Intangible Service, Presence, etc.

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Coming up in April 2018...

Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.