Key Aspects to Building Excellent Customer Service

By Sue Garwood Manager of Education and Training, Best Western Hotels & Resorts | April 24, 2016

In the hotel industry, excellent service is vital, as customers’ expectations continue to evolve, raising the bar and setting a higher standard. These days, a smile, “please” and “thank you”, just doesn’t cut it. Customers want to have memorable experiences they can walk away with, which is why hotels are implementing new programs to improve and monitor clients’ satisfaction. A good program today should highlight not only the importance of customer care, but also for each employee. Below are key aspects to keep in mind in order to build an outstanding customer satisfaction program.

Know the Data

Good customer service stretches far behind the words that are said and how a situation is handled. There is an art behind effective communication in the service industry – using both verbal and nonverbal cues. But the most important of these is nonverbal. According to the 7-38-55 rule of communication, 55% of our total communication is delivered by body language, 38% by tone of voice and the last slim 7% is delivered by words.

How You Carry Yourself

The largest form of messages we send is through body language, which encompasses everything from a smile to hand gestures to posture. It is crucial for every employee, from the front of the house to the back of the house, to carry themselves well. This means standing and walking straight. Good posture exudes confidence, togetherness, and reassurance. Slouching may communicate laziness, self-doubt, and messiness. Communication mirrors the other person, so employees who hold themselves together well will encourage your guests to do the same. This will leave a positive impression on guests.

First Impressions

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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.