Perfecting a Customer-Centric Model is the Key to Success for Hotels

First Up: the Social and Digital Media Interface

By Chrissy Denihan Chief Comfort Officer, Affinia Hotels | April 21, 2013

More and more hotels are moving toward a customer-centric model. Increasingly it is less about what we, as hoteliers, think we should provide and more about serving up experiences, service and programs based on our customers' lifestyles, preferences and needs. We are a good example of this movement. While Denihan Hospitality Group, the parent company of Affinia Hotels, has built its foundation on a unique, guest-centric approach for 50 years, my role as Chief Comfort Officer for the Affinia brand was created to take it to the next level.

This article covers customer-centric practices outside your hotel in the social and digital media space.

Operating from a customer-centric place is about engaging with customers in social media and the digital world in a different way. While we know we must be on Facebook, TripAdvisor, Twitter, and even Pinterest and Instagram, it's how we use these tools that is important. The shift today is from promotional content to putting the focus on the customers. What do they like and care about? How do they feel? What are their concerns? How do they read and to what do they respond?

The next set of questions we must all be asking ourselves as hoteliers are: What can I do to cater to what they like and care about? How can I respond in a meaningful way to their feelings and concerns?

The operative word is "engage." We want to engage, not sell. To truly engage we must be mindful of our customers' needs, rather than our own.

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Coming up in April 2019...

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.