How Hotel Chains Can Utilize Comparison Data

By Richard D. Hanks Chairman and President, Mindshare Technologies | October 28, 2008

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) reported this year that customer satisfaction within the hotel industry declined over five percent from last year. The industry's final score? A not so impressive 71 out of 100.

That would also be known as a "C minus," if we were still school. Sure, it's a passing grade, but below average, and far below what the industry is capable of.

In other words, there is a lot to learn out there - about lodging customers and how to serve them. What if the industry as a whole could earn at least a 90? What if a single chain could score that high? Vacancies would be scarce, revenues would soar, and that chain would gain the reputation as the place to stay.

The truth is, it doesn't really take a great deal of effort. In fact, your customers are saying it all the time. The trick is how to hear them. This article discusses how best to go about obtaining actionable feedback from your guests, how it can help you adn what the potential benefits could be.

Getting to Know Your Customers

The secret to not just getting a passing grade, but jumping to an "A+" is in listening to your customers. Like teachers, they have all the information you need to succeed, but you need to listen closely, take notes, and take action on what you've learned.

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. 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.