The Importance of Delivering Top Notch Customer Service to Your Hotel Guests
Communication problems in the workplace can wreak havoc on how you manage your hotel staff as well as your team’s ability to get the job done as efficiently as possible. However, poor communication doesn’t just affect your hotel internally. It can also erode away at the quality of your customer service. If your staff doesn’t remain perfectly in sync, then it’s much more difficult to keep your productivity up going forward. That means tasks may get delayed, not be performed correctly or perhaps not get completed at all.
The guest experience, as you no doubt know, is often what allows you to stand head and shoulders above your competition and keep customers coming back again and again. So it’s absolutely essential that you keep a close eye on your customer service, and in many ways, that means you need to first acknowledge the importance of communication in the workplace. Although many other industries are accountable to their customers, the hospitality world is especially impacted by the intimate relationship it shares with customers.
To help illustrate our point, we’ll run through some hypothetical situations that you may very well encounter in the course of your duties. Through these, we’ll explore how you can do more to ensure a top-notch customer experience every single time.
A guest approaches the front desk with a timely concern that he or she needs to be addressed. The staff member smiles cordially and says they’ll be with the guest in a moment, only to promptly disappear in the back for several minutes. When the staff member returns, there’s a new customer at the desk waiting to check in.
Now since the new customer has been waiting, he or she is growing impatient. The staff member apologizes and offers a discount, upgrade or other perks to the newly arrived customer to appease them. However, the original guest is still waiting in the lobby, watching all of the above unfold and becoming increasingly enraged at the lack of attention he or she has received. In the end, the guest leaves a bad review and never returns to your hotel again.
What we have here is delayed communication. The original guest came down to the front desk with a specific request, but the team member on duty not only failed to tend to it immediately but then proceeded to neglect his or her post for several minutes. A better way to handle this would be to address the first guest’s needs in real time.
This provides the guest with the satisfaction of being heard and knowing that his or her needs are of the utmost importance to the hotel staff and prevents the trickle-down effect in which the second guest now too faces a similar delay.
If you are understaffed, your hotel staff should communicate to a teammate that he or she needs extra help at the front desk or whatever job took the staff member on duty away from his or her post should simply wait.
After all, the guest experience comes first.
With the right systems in place, your hotel staff can stay in the moment with each other and prevent such customer service congestion from happening in the first place.
For weary travelers, your hotel is a beacon of safety, security and warmth, a place where they can set their bags down, put their feet up and recover from their adventures. So imagine the frustration that our next hypothetical guest faces when he or she calls the hotel to make a change to their reservation.
Perhaps it’s a special request for the room. Maybe they just want to find out if an early check-in is possible. Or it could be necessary for them to reschedule or cancel their reservation entirely. However, when the guest calls to make the change, no one answers the phone. The guest leaves a voicemail explaining the situation and imploring the staff to return his or her call to confirm receipt of the message. Yet, the voicemail is never received, and the guest arrives at the hotel either with a room that doesn’t meet their needs or without a room at all.
This one could have easily been avoided, but missed messages are a very real concern for hotel staffs. The guest puts his or her trust in you by leaving a voicemail and assuming that your team will take action to ensure that everything is in order. But, because of the unreliable communication system in place, your team never even has the opportunity to make the requested changes.
If one of your workers had answered the phone or at least been able to retrieve the message, you could have started this guest’s experience off on a high note, leaving them confident that you’re willing to go the extra mile to prepare accommodations for each and every guest.
The communication issues again sabotage what might have been a lifelong customer, and your staff has one more negative account of their services, all because missed messages and a botched attempt to communicate.
No one can be in two places at once, but when you have a limited number of staff members on duty, it sure is tempting to try and cover all your customer service bases despite limited resources. As you may have guessed, our next scenario involves such a premise. Take, for instance, a guest who is (once again) standing at the front desk with a request for service and needs a staff member to stop by the room to address it.
Yet, the worker is all alone at the front desk. You don’t want to leave your post, but you also don’t want to leave the guest without the attentive customer service that your hotel claims as its mission statement. Unless you choose one route or the other, you’re bound to leave a guest unsatisfied. If you have a communication tool on hand that can contact another staff member who can meet the guest back in his or her room to attend to the issue, then you’re all set, but for the purposes of this exercise, let’s not take for granted the kind of communication toolkit you have in place.
The problem the staff member in this scenario faces is caused by limited mobility. You cannot literally attend to two guests at the same time but are worrying about letting any guests down. Here’s where a device like a walkie talkie app would come in handy, as it would allow the guest at the front desk to reach out to a co-worker (instantly!) who might have a spare moment to tend to the guest’s problem.
This would allow the front desk worker to stay in place to assist any incoming guests hoping to check in or who otherwise require immediate attention. These are the kinds of considerations you need to keep in mind when you’re forming the communication strategy for your hotel. Modern technology has made huge strides in mobility and seeing as your competition is likely taking advantage of the tools available to them, you need to focus on developing your relationship with your guests.
That means actually being available to assist them when they ask, not later. Be the hotel staff that achieves instant gratification for your guests’ needs, and watch the positive responses come flowing in.
For our last example, we are going to touch on perhaps the most fundamental element of a successful hotel business. Let’s say a guest has a simple question, and so he or she dials up the front desk. The staff member on the other line isn’t only unhelpful in addressing the guest’s needs but is actually kind of rude about it. The phone conversation escalates to the point that the guest essentially has to argue his or her point to the staff member, and the worker has to flat out deny the guest’s request without any signs of remorse or compromise.
What should have been a quick, pleasant call between guest and staff spiraled into a negative interaction that will likely leave the guest second-guessing their decision to stay at your hotel. It’s up to your staff to retain their composure and set the tone for interactions like this one. And, by extension, the responsibility for training your staff members falls to you as the manager.
While there is no telling whether the guest’s request was a reasonable one, the main takeaway from this example is that the staff member was not conducting himself or herself in a way befitting the mission of your hotel. In that way, this is the perfect instance of miscommunication at work.
For the most part, our examples of how vital communication is among your staff have related primarily to the on-the-job daily grind part of getting tasks done and/or tending to guests. However, just as important (or perhaps even more so) is the fundamental communication of your team’s mission, your objectives and your values to each staff member you bring on. To make it as a successful hotel long-term, you’ll need to establish and maintain the kind of warm attitude that lets guests feel heard, acknowledged and satisfied even if they don’t wind up with the very thing they requested when they reached out.
We know that not every guest request will be something you can do, but you’d be wise to communicate your philosophy of what kind of establishment you’re running to ensure a comprehensive guest experience regardless of who is on duty.
The old adage “the customer is always right” might not exactly fit today’s modern business landscape, but the message remains just how poignant. Above all else, your devotion should always trace back to putting the customers’ needs first.
Without their patronage, your hotel wouldn’t be able to stay open, and it’s key that you recognize this fact by putting the guest experience at the top of your list of priorities where it belongs. Find ways to connect to your guests as well as your team, and you’re that much closer to whatever comes next for your business.
The importance of communication in the workplace dictates that you give your guests the quality service they deserve. Once you have the right systems in place, you and your team will be able to function as the well-oiled machine you were always meant to be.
Remember, your guests have a ton of options for where they could stay. You need to take their business as the opportunity that it is to reaffirm their faith, to win them over with such attentive care that you’ll have created a customer for life.
The alternative is that a single bad experience can poison them against you for good. Don’t miss the chance to prove what you and your team are capable of.