Earning Expert Customer Care Through 'Want to' Performance

By Aubrey Daniels Founder & Chairman, Aubrey Daniels International | March 10, 2013

Let's face it; in the hotel business if you don't deliver acceptable customer service, guests are more than likely to walk out your door and into one of a multitude of competitor properties, even after just one bad experience. And, in today's socially active world, there's no hiding your inefficiencies as irate customers are quick to take their experience to Twitter or other hotel review sites and spread their negative stories. The competition is so fierce that it's easy to understand why a hotel brand's customer reputation is one of its key drivers of business success.

Take for example the gold standard of customer service, The Four Seasons. What specifically do they do to earn this esteemed reputation? Why, even when they have a misstep, are they able to resolve issues quickly and maintain their customers' trust and loyalty? It all comes down to behavior, that of each and every one of its employees. Hotel brands that understand this are successful at expertly managing and reinforcing the right behaviors, and in return they earn above and beyond performance from all employees, regardless of rank.

This above and beyond performance is called discretionary effort. It is the level of effort people could give if they wanted to, but above and beyond the minimum required. Leaders and managers are, more times than not, misguided into thinking that by providing good pay, benefits and a comfortable place to work, employees will perform their best. However, these factors alone never capture discretionary effort.

Many organizations manage performance in such a way that motivates employees to do only enough to get by and avoid getting in trouble. Typically, these organizations manage by exception, providing consequences for worker's performance only when it falls below the standard or minimum required. This approach gets immediate results, but just enough behavior to stop the threats and the potential for other negative consequences in the near future. It suppresses discretionary effort because there's nothing in it for people to do more than the minimum required.

To understand this better, we must first acknowledge that no organizational result can be produced without human behavior and that any organizational system that is designed without taking the laws of behavior (called behavior analysis) into account will always perform below what is possible. To that end, managers and leaders must be expert in building systems and processes that are consistent with what is known about the laws of behavior.

Behavior and Consequences

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Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.