3 Reasons Why Focusing On Guest Satisfaction Is A Losing Battle
Here's What You Should to Do Instead...
By Justin Effron Co-Founder & CEO, ALICE | January 28, 2018
In the world of retail, knowing what your customer wants, when they want it, how much, and how frequently can be the difference between a booming business and going out of business. In the service industry however, getting to know your customer’s preferences isn’t quite as clear-cut.
Trying to understand the capricious whims and complex emotions of human beings you’re hoping to please is an exercise in futility at best and can actually harm your relationships at worst. Why? Because pretending to know someone you don’t really have a deep relationship with can come across as presumptuous and insensitive. And should your guesses actually be correct, you can inadvertently come across even worse because no one likes to think of themselves as being that predictable.
So what’s a GM to do to make their guests feel right at home? The solution is to not make their stay anything like home. Make your guests feel like guests! In this regard, we’ve listed three common pitfalls of trying to placate clients that hotels often fall into, and their respective solutions. By putting the focus on a winning culture instead of winning over customers, you’ll be more effective in getting the desired result: satisfied guests who’ll want to return again and again.
1. If You’re Trying To Guess What Guests Want, You’re Probably Getting It Wrong
The same guest doesn’t necessarily behave the same way from one visit to the next. For starters, that guest could be on a business trip, family vacation, romantic getaway, or girls’ night out. Even if it’s always a business trip, what’s the nature of the business this time around? Is it pitching a new client, trying to keep from losing a client, or being wooed as a client by another business? Is it an easygoing trip or a stressful one where everything is on the line—including his or her job? What’s his mood like now? What’s the season? What’s going on in her life?
If your hotel bases its services and amenities on what a particular guest wanted the last time they stayed with you, you’re probably not going to get it right. So why even try? No one expects you to. What guests expect is great service, convenient amenities, comfortable accommodations, and the preferences they’d requested for this visit. Just do that and do a spectacular job of it, without trying to know what your guest will want before they do.
2. Great Service Is More Important Than Great Customization
Hotels have yet to get service so perfect that they’re ready to focus on customized stays. For the most part, these highly specific techniques aimed at generating loyalty fail to leave guests with the loyal connection that was intended. As discussed above, people don’t necessarily want the same thing every time, but even if some of your guesses are correct, guests are rarely all that impressed. Knowing that they like decaf in their room or a certain kind of pillow isn’t going to impress anyone about the quality of your service or details of your memory. It only serves to remind them that you’ve got a profile on them in your computer.
What would impress them a lot more is a staff that makes them feel good by remembering their names, asking about their families, and wanting to know about their lives. People love to talk about themselves. They feel positive about those who like them and are like them (similar interests, values, etc.). You want a staff that remembers guests, asks how they’ve been, and genuinely seems to care. And the kind of staff that tends to do that, is one that’s happy and productive. By better incentivizing staff and giving them better tools to do their jobs, you’ll see much greater impact on the guest than leaving their favorite board game in their room. And this brings us to our last point.
3. Stop Guessing What Guests Want And Start Focusing On Staff Success
Trying to proactively predict what every guest wants is labor-intensive, resource-draining, and usually off the mark. However, giving your staff what they want is much easier since you know them better and have more control over providing the benefits they desire. The labor market is more competitive than ever at hotels. In a 2015 report, Deloitte found employee turnover at hotels to be as high as 31%—nearly double the average rate for other industries. Your best option to attract higher quality employees with fewer turnovers is to provide them with a great place to work. That means creating a positive, uplifting culture that’s as stress-free as possible and focuses on teamwork so the entire staff feels a sense of pride about their role in it all.
Easier said than done? Perhaps, but it is being done, by a rapidly growing number of hotels and other service-industry establishments around the world. And most of these transitions to a more united, positive, and proactively-pleasing staff are happening quite quickly and inexpensively. While there are certainly benefits to bringing in consultants, motivational speakers, or staff-whisperers of sorts, these days one of the quickest and most effective way to make huge leaps towards having a happy hospitality staff is to use an integrated hospitality platform.
In the 2016 book, Platform Revolution, a “platform” is defined as a business model that “uses technology to connect people, organizations, and resources in an interactive ecosystem in which amazing amounts of value can be created and exchanged.” With their many different interactions, players, and services, hotels already act as a platform in many ways. This makes them ideal candidates for platform technology that facilitates the exchange of information and services between these various players, making life easier for a hotel’s staff.
Hotels adopting an integrated hospitality platform into their operations can not only integrate the various systems already in use, but also create a new master system that’s able to link with guests, vendors, and of course, staff. All staff—from the front desk and concierge to housekeeping and maintenance. Those using such platforms quickly become more efficient at communicating between departments, getting service data they’ve never had before, and getting it all to work together as a cohesive unit. Hence the term, “integrated.”
In short, the impressive timesaving, stress-reducing, teamwork-building, and revenue-generating benefits of integrated platforms offer immediate value, making them far and away the quickest way to achieve staff satisfaction. For starters, by choosing integrated technology that is simple to learn and use, the entire staff becomes like a well-oiled machine—speeding up with the routine tasks of the existing workforce while lowering training times and costs for incoming staff.
Hotels are at the forefront of customer service. Not in a way that a consumer brand is, where you have a dedicated team for it and no one else need bother, but in a hotel, every one of your staff doubles as a customer service agent. “Take care of your employees and they’ll take care of your customers,” J.W. Marriott famously said. With time freed up thanks to more streamlined systems and automation of many of their communication steps, employees can be deployed for other functions and increase their ability to service more guests. Every minute a staff member is spending, trying to work around poor technology (or lack of any technology), is a minute they could be spending maximizing your guests’ experience. Making technology work well for your staff, as Snapshot CEO Stefan Tweraser corroborates, will help your staff work well for your guests. So, to put Mariott’s and Tweraser’s wisdom together, take care of your staff by making their lives easier through technology and they’ll take care of your guests.
The time and money saved from using effective technology and having a happy staff with little turnover leads to a positive cycle that includes more lucrative incentives for employees. This in turn makes them happier and more likely to make guests happier as well. It works like this: an integrated hospitality platform enables staff to be more effective and efficient, which makes them happier while saving the hotel time and money with less overtime, turnover, and sub-quality service. This in turn leads to a more pleasant work environment, which leads to a more positive ambience, better service, and happier guests more likely to leave positive reviews and bring in more guests. This creates more money for the hotel allowing for more pay for staff and capital for investments. This leads to even happier staff with even better service, and more fulfilled guests and the cycle goes on and on—all without the hassle of trying to customize your hotel to fit your guests. Instead, you’ll attract the right guests to your hotel. And that’s just easier for everybody.
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