Take the Service Elevator to the Top Floor

By Roberta Nedry President & Founder, Hospitality Excellence, Inc. | April 23, 2017

Customer experience management is increasingly critical as a top investment area and skill essential for C-suite executives (some firms even have a CXO). What does that mean exactly and what do leaders need to do to ensure they are ready? How will they proactively acquire these skills and mindset when there is no single or even clear roadmap as to exactly what to do or how to do it? On top of that, the new science of customer emotions is inspiring even more considerations and most CEO's don't like to 'get emotional' about their business strategies! Some are finding their way in the dark. Yet, more and more evidence shows the direct relationship of emotional intelligence as part of the customer experience strategy. It's time to figure it out!

Gartner Incorporated, a leader in technology and research predicts that this year, 89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience, versus 36% four years ago. Another global study by customer experience solutions provider Amdocs revealed that the most commonly added new C-level roles hold responsibility for customer experience. CEO management styles will need to change and have the ability to inspire innovation and change in how and what experiences are delivered and how the organization will function to support them. "The study shows customer experience is becoming increasingly critical with CEO's of the largest service providers in the world viewing it as a top investment area in 2020," Eric Updyke, Group President of System integration and operations at Amdocs.

Studies like these support getting up to speed fairly quickly on customer experience management. How many executives know how to go about that and get these skills the market is now demanding and which trends are forecasting will be critical? Who will orient and train them so they can train, orient, lead and inspire their organizations which must deliver those experiences?

On top of that, social media provides today's consumers with lots of channels providing feedback on their personal customer experiences. Hospitality leaders and their organizations are getting lots of reviews and comments on the customer experiences they provide, whether they want them or not and whether they are designing them or not.

Executives must define, deliver and manage experiences that will rally employees to deliver better and more memorable experiences, matching or exceeding customer expectations. Going beyond brand loyalty and into the deeper science of emotional connections is essential for stronger guest loyalty and impressions.

Whether it's a conference center, a local restaurant or a leading international hotel, customer experience management needs to be in play and top of mind for business leaders, the hospitality industry and their teams. Each touchpoint, each point of customer contact will contribute to a comprehensive series of events that will yield the final experience impression. Each time the baton is passed, another mini-moment takes place and adds to the complete experience timeline and impact. How can those mini-moments be managed for maximum yield and how do leaders charge up their own customer experience skills and knowledge? How do those in the C-Suite make sure that C now stands for Customer Experience which will be essential to their long term success?

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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.