Perceptual Sense Essential to Guest Service in 2015 Humans are STILL Needed!!

By Virginia Casale Director, Global Education, Hospitality Excellence, Inc. | February 08, 2015

Co-authored by Roberta Nedry, President & Founder, Hospitality Excellence, Inc.

Understanding how to anticipate, interpret and deliver guest needs and desires in an ever more complex world of choices and communication channels will require humans who can subjectively jump in to any situation to deliver and exceed expectations. And, while guests may want to skip many of the transactional steps like check in and reservations in favor of doing it themselves or using new technology, they will not want to skip getting their needs met or even figured out which well-trained humans can do.

The human touch will always prevail in luxury service because true luxury cannot take place without personalized service. Personalized service involves actions and efforts that lead to emotions like pleasure, happiness, delight and even simple satisfaction. Personalized service means being able to relate to the PERSON on an individual level and determine exactly what they want. Employees who are able to perceive what it will take to deliver that personalized service whether it is face to face, by phone, online, by mail or through social media channels, will be those that create the most memorable experiences and the most loyal guests.

So, what will it take to get that perceptual sense and how do hoteliers find the right employees who have it or how do they train their teams to get it and deliver it in meaningful ways beyond all the wonderful new technologies, products and systems that support and enhance today's hospitality industry?

In a recent conversation with Benedict Cummins, Publisher of HotelExecutive, my colleague Roberta Nedry and I discussed what "humans" are doing to maximize Guest Service impact as well as some of the upcoming trends we are seeing with our work both in and out of the hospitality industry.

Benedict: Virginia, you recently joined the Hospitality Excellence team after 30 years of hotel concierge and guest service roles and having recently served as the International President of Les Clefs d'Or, the leading association of the world's top hotel concierges. What is the most important lesson you learned in Guest Service from your career?

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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.