The Roots of Real Customer Satisfaction
By Mark Ricketts President & Chief Operating Officer, McNeill Hotel Company | June 16, 2019
In hospitality, we spend a great deal of time focused on providing our guests with the best possible customer service, anticipating that it will translate into that pleasing alignment of satisfied guests, return visits and referrals, and profitability. Moreover, as genuine hoteliers, guest satisfaction is what we believe in; it is our impulse for pursuing hospitality as a career and business.
To help achieve these ends, we spend a great deal of time measuring and studying customer satisfaction, working to understand what makes guests tick. Moreover, guests can convey "what they really think of us" in so many ways beyond the long familiar and now outmoded paper survey on a clipboard. We have formal brand guest satisfaction surveys, our own hospitality organization surveys, third party industry surveys like those that J.D. Power & Associates now conducts and seemingly endless guest posts on hotel booking sites, personal travel blogs and social media.
Amid this complex and sometimes outright bewildering new world of customer response, this article will step back and consider the roots of customer satisfaction for hospitality. What do our guests really want and need and how might we ascertain that information? What about our internal "customer," the members of our organization, from the C-suite to the frontlines? And how can we align customer satisfaction with our own in pursuit of harmony and balance in our lives?
As indicated, guests are giving us more feedback than ever about their stay with us; and their overall impression of our industry. What are we to make of this staggering abundance of feedback, whether it's good, bad or indifferent?
An "inside-out" approach might be helpful. For starters, let's take a perhaps less hectic common sense approach. This starts with genuine, in-person chat with our guests. As we make pleasant, but not unnecessarily personal, conversation with them, listen closely to what they say about the property, our staff and the overall experience. What features, experiences or behaviors seem to generate positive responses? What opinions do the guests offer up, positive or negative? Natural, confident conversation or questioning should provide valuable information about "what guests want."