Hiring for Service with A Smile
By Doug Walner President & CEO, Psychological Services, Inc. | September 2010
Customer service positions are often the first point of contact for guests and can make or break their experience at your hotel. If a guest is not treated well, a return visit to that hotel is unlikely. That, in turn, impacts reservations, sales, and even the hotel's reputation. Once negative word of mouth starts to spread, it has a ripple effect that can cause serious - and lasting - repercussions for the entire organization.
Hiring the wrong customer service employees can become a public relations nightmare when a frustrated hotel guest complains about an experience or tells friends about it. The Internet compounds the effects of negative word of mouth. A quick Google search will pull up reviews of nearly every hotel, restaurant or travel destination in the world. And some websites are dedicated to helping customers spread the word about their experiences. For example, popular websites such as planetfeedback.com or yelp.com post customers' comments from on their experience with a variety of industries - this is positive or negative feedback to which anyone online has access.
What types of stories are posted on these sites? Here's a quick sample:
"I recently stayed at the Hampton Inn and Suites for a wedding. When we arrived, we were greeted by unfriendly, annoyed staff members at the front desk greeted that insisted we reserved a smoking room when I specifically requested a non smoking room for health reasons... considering the fact that not only your staff was incredibly rude (arguing with me and telling me that I REQUESTED a smoking room), the overpriced rooms were as nice as a truck stop motel. You might want to address the situation to save your reputation. There were many people from the wedding that had other complaints such as rude staff and requests that were made that were not met. 100% satisfaction guarantee - that's a joke!!" - Ann P.
Conversely, positive word of mouth can have an equally dynamic effect - and this is also directly related to the quality of customer service representatives on staff. Here, a couple comments from satisfied customers:
"My family and I just spent the last week in your beautiful hotel in San Francisco. We wanted to drop a quick note to let you know what a stellar staff you have, in particular Albert at the bell desk. While the entire staff was friendly and welcoming, Albert went out of his way to make us feel at home. By taking the time to answer our questions, recommend travel routes and even fixing a small problem with the room registrations, he really made our stay something special. In our future travels, we look forward to enjoying your hotel again. Thank you so much!" - Lucy E.