The Essence of Customer Service is to Inform and Inspire

By Arman Sadeghi CEO and Founder, Titanium Success | February 05, 2017

The easiest way for hotel executives to succeed is through service – to their staff and guests. For if an executive cannot inspire the former, then he will not be able to honor the needs and demands of the latter. Sometimes it takes an outsider to speak to this community – to address the managers and workers of a hotel – so this group can move forward together.Sometimes it takes a voice of independence to deliver a message of value, which is in fact a summons to strengthen the values of a hotel or a resort: To remind employees of the history of an institution, the heritage of a property and the loyalty of her patrons.

When I have the chance to speak to such a gathering, I try to have a conversation with these people. I have no monologue to rehearse, no soliloquy to recite, no maxims to record. I come to listen, not lecture; I use the microphone as a tool, not a truncheon. I talk about service because that is the one thing every hotelier can offer, that is the one thing every hotelier must provide.

For the hotel executive without a big marketing department, or for the professional running a boutique property without the many features of a nearby competitor, the great equalizer is – and will always be – service. f you exceed a guest's expectations, if you make attentiveness a priority and establish a precedent for discretion, if you stand ready to accommodate a traveler's wants and know how to take a step back to ensure the privacy of each visitor, then you will develop a reputation for – your staff will enjoy acclaim for their commitment to – excellent service. While this point may seem obvious, it is too often the casualty of other projects and misguided agendas.

For example: A hotel may buy an expensive brand of software, something to automate reservations and select candidates for certain upgrades and amenities, or an executive may exhaust his budget on advertising and promotions, while neglecting to write – never bothering to produce – a statement of principles. That is, a hotel executive must clarify what things are indispensable to the success of his business. Beware the hotelier who does not put service at the top of this list. Avoid the individual who thinks service is a luxury, not a necessity.

Strike that: Before abandoning that person, make a first – or final – appeal to reason. Explain the rewards of superb customer service. Describe the dividends a hotel receives because of its investment in customer service. Detail the reaction, from present and potential patrons, when they get – or when they hear about – a property's bespoke brand of customer service. Remember, too, that achieving this goal does not involve mastering technology or studying some arcane system. Everything centers on training: Showing workers what to do and what to say, as well as showing them what not to do and say.

This constant pursuit of perfection requires daily practice. The key to doing this job well is to make the prose of practice invisible to the poetry of an employee's performance, so to speak. Just as a musician does not stop playing if he misses a chord or skips a beat, a hotel worker must make a mental note of an error without disrupting his duties to a guest. That is why, and I write these words from experience, a hotel executive should invite an independent adviser – a messenger with a mission – who can be an advocate for guests and an agent of change.

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Coming up in January 2019...

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.