Service Elevated! Seven Simple Ways to Elevate Customer Service

By Steve Curtin Founder, Steve Curtin LLC | October 23, 2011

Earlier this year, American Express conducted a survey exploring attitudes and preferences toward customer service. The survey revealed seven in ten Americans (70%) are willing to spend an average of 13% more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service.

Even so, the same survey indicated that six in ten Americans (60%) believe businesses haven't increased their focus on providing good customer service. Among this group, 26% think companies are actually paying less attention to service.

In my work, I routinely encounter the following paradox: "Why is it that businesses consistently claim to value customers, yet inconsistently deliver exceptional customer service?"

I'll answer that question later but for now consider these three truths about exceptional customer service:

  1. It involves job essence. Every employee's job is made up of both job function (the duties and tasks associated with a job role) and job essence (an employee's purpose or highest priority which, for employees at most companies, is to create a delighted customer).
  2. It's voluntary. While obtaining a valid method of payment (a job function) is required, smiling or making eye contact (job essence) is voluntary.
  3. It's free. While employees are paid to perform job functions, there's no extra charge to smile, make eye contact, or add enthusiasm to their voices.

Most employees in most service organizations are unaware of the above truths simply because no one's mentioned them. Instead, most managers spend time talking about job function, procedures, and operational efficiency while scrutinizing hours to schedule, forecasts, and profit and loss statements.

The result is employees who are blissfully unaware of the subtle opportunities they forfeit daily to demonstrate job essence, elevate the quality of their personal customer service, and make lasting positive impressions on the customers they serve.

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.