Selling Your Executive Team on the Need for a Customer Service Strategy

By Marco Albarran Managing Director, Remarkable Hospitality, Inc. | November 30, 2014

Are you a manager or department head observing evident need for a customer service strategy but your owner(s) or headquarters not seeing this the way you are? Are you trying to convince them or bringing this up but they are not paying attention to this? Why is this so? What and how can we approach this situation to sell, justify and convince to them to invest in the appropriate service strategy? This article brainstorms brief concepts that should give some idea to assist in this situation, which I am certain many of you are going, or have gone through.

The overall basis of this particular write up is based on much frustration in which many managers must deal with and are perhaps against the wall, as this can be a very viable solution to increase the bottom line, yet they do not get the overall approval or backing from owners of headquarters. (Keep in mind when I use either owners or headquarters, this refers to whomever we report to, so there are many derivations of these two main decision makers that we can use, so feel free to plug in to whom you report to in your particular case.)

The Challenge

Why is it that we tend to see this challenge for the most part? Is it that they do not want to invest money into a service strategy and perhaps invest in other areas? Is it perhaps because owners are not knowledgeable on how this may impact their bottom line and they fear the unknown? Could it be that perhaps headquarters is too separated from the front lines and cannot connect the correlation between customer service strategized and improving the bottom line? All of these answers can certainly be factors and again, you will certainly be able to identify with any of these, or perhaps many more, scenarios.

It is not easy to convince executives teams or managers overall on this as we do have to justify what needs not be done in order to effectively bring forth the some sort of plan that will certainly make an impact to the bottom line. Your line staff and department heads are in the trenches gather enough intel/data to understand better the customer. They are putting into practice perhaps what is already set as a service approach or standard, however, is it outdated, meaning still using approaches that used to work prior to today's demand? Maybe we are taking too long to respond to needs and not connecting back with the guest's requests in a timely manner? Is it not working as it is perhaps too focused on what the hotel or restaurant wants the guest to tell them, versus what the guest truly needs from the establishment? Maybe the overall existing customer service approach is too broad and not strategic? I am sure there are many situations that are very focused on your property, so there needs to be an analysis to be made to see that is going on specifically.

Strategies and Solutions

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Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.