In This Online Age, Does Customer Service Still Matter?

By Holly Zoba Senior VP of Sales - Hospitality, Signature Worldwide | April 14, 2013

Of course, customer service still matters. According to the 2012 American Express® Global Customer Service Barometer, consumers spend 21 percent more with companies who deliver great service.

If your hotel generated $3 million in revenues last year and by stepping up your customer service, you could make 21 percent more, that is an extra $630,000 in revenue.

However, is that realistic? Just because people answer a survey and say they would spend more, is there any real merit to it? In addition, in order to get that extra $630,000, how much will you have to spend to improve your service levels? Here is the most challenging question, exactly what does great customer service mean to the customer today? If you do not understand the answer to that last question, how are you going to know how to improve it and if it is worth the expense?

Let's work backwards and look at the possible answers for our last question – what exactly does great customer service mean to your customer today?

There are, of course, what I consider "table stakes" – these are the absolute minimums in the world of customer service. Does your staff make eye contact, do they smile, and do they answer the phone quickly and appear knowledgeable and helpful? Unless you have a robust customer survey program or onsite mystery shoppers, you probably do not know the real answer to those questions. Moreover, if you do not get these small things right, it does not matter if you do the more advanced steps right, you have already lost.

However, let's assume the table stakes are being met most of the time. What else do customers include in that world of great service? If you read the comments on TripAdvisor, you can quickly tell what matters. Hotels that make it easy for their guests to accomplish what they came there to do are ranked the highest. Do you make it easy for your guests or unknowingly create an obstacle course for them?

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Coming up in June 2019...

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.