10 Tips to Improving Hotel Customer Service

Want to go above and beyond with your guests? Here are 10 ways you can improve satisfaction and exceed guest expectations during their hotel stay.

August 16, 2019
Hotel Guest Service
Hotel Guest Messaging
Hospitality Highlight

With the growth of competition and guest expectations within the hospitality industry, the importance of ensuring a positive experience for guests is at the forefront of occupancy and profitability. Poor customer service costs U.S. companies more than $62 billion each year. Through what we've learned with our work with top hospitality professionals, Kipsu has compiled a couple simple tips that will help boost Customer Service Scores. Some of these tips may seem obvious, but their significance shouldn’t be underestimated. Taking good care of guests has a huge payoff, both literally and figuratively.

1) Exercise (Even the Most Basic) People Skills When Interacting with Guests

There’s a chance that you may be the only person that specific guest interacts with at the hotel. Even if that is not the case, we should think this way. It’s a huge responsibility and opportunity to set the tone for the property. Something as simple as looking up from the computer or other tasks to provide the guest with eye contact or a smile is a great start. 80% of communication is transferred non-verbally. Asking questions like “How are you?”, “How can I help?”, “Do you have any questions?”, and actually listening to their answers and responding appropriately shows the guest you genuinely care about them and the quality of their stay.

2) When Time/Situation Allows, Make an Effort to Get to Know the Guest

Once the reservation is pulled up, you have access to a lot of information. Call them by their name and introduce yourself. As you’re checking them in, have a conversation that maybe isn’t all business. Talk about where they’re from, what plans they have while in town, offer recommendations, etc. Creating connections with guests will help them feel more comfortable sharing feedback, or if a mistake is made, they’re usually more patient as the team tries to make it right.

3) Anticipate Your Guest's Needs

From your interactions with guests, make note of requests or preferences in the PMS system so if they ever return, you can be one step ahead. Did that guest request extra pillows last time he stayed? Have them sent up before he arrives. Ask a family traveling with small children if they need an extra crib brought up. Thoughtfulness and attention to detail go a long way.

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4) Respond Quickly to All Guest Requests and Questions

Response times to requests, questions, or complaints can make or break a hotel visit. The faster you can respond and deliver on that request, the happier the guest will be. When it comes to receiving an immediate response to a customer service question, 90% of consumers rated this as “very important” or “important”. Everyone wants to be listened to and heard. This drastically increases when someone is paying for an experience or service. Having a streamlined process for efficiently delivering on requests is critical.

5) Try to Make it Right When Things Go Wrong

When it’s within your power to correct or improve a mistake, make every effort to do so with an attached apology. Mistakes happen, but rectifying those mistakes quickly with minimal time, cost, and effort to the guest is crucial. Once the issue is remedied, if there’s an approved way to tack on a perk or benefit, do so! Upgrading them to a room with a better view, giving them an authorized discount on a room that didn’t meet expectations, or even a free drink at the hotel bar shows the guest that not only did you correct the mistake, but you went out of your way to make up for it happening in the first place.

6) Go Above and Beyond Guest Expecations When You Can

Extra effort and personalized touches go a long way in the hospitality industry. A hotel Development Manager once said her goal every day is to “surprise and delight” her guests whenever possible. If you know a couple is staying at the hotel for an anniversary, send up some chocolate covered strawberries and champaign, or balloons if you know of a birthday celebration. Do your best to exceed their expectations. Even if it’s something silly, like a guest requesting a picture of Nicholas Cage in their room. Exceeding expectations is a great way to make the customer feel special and valued. If nothing else, never underestimate the power of a hand-written note.

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https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/hotel-delivers-nic-cage-on-guests-pillow/

7) Check in on Guests During Their Stay

Being able to check in on a guest during their stay to make sure their expectations are being met is a great way to capture feedback. If their experience has been lacking, finding this information out during their stay offers the opportunity to improve or fix it before they leave the property and report the negative experience on surveys or TripAdvisor. Even if there is nothing to report, guests appreciate the check in and realize you really care about how their stay is and are empowered to walk through that door to report feedback should something arise.

8) Invest in a Guest Messaging System

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A recent study from OpenMarket found that 90% of hotel guests in the US and UK said they would find messaging helpful during hotel stays. Investing in texting and digital messaging software, like Kipsu, helps achieve many of the objectives on this list. Hotel text messaging allows your team to respond quickly and efficiently to a guest inquiry as they text the hotel with requests or questions, while keeping the human touch entact. Tasks are easily delegated to appropriate teams to help get that request or question taken care of quickly and efficiently. Checking in during the middle of their stay is convenient for both sides and provides a familiar channel to deliver feedback that may not have been shared in a face-to-face situation. Texting makes staff available to guests 24/7, even when the guest is exploring the city, in a business meeting, or just relaxing in their room.

9) Happy Employees Lead to Happy Guests

In a recent Gallup report “The State of the American Workplace”, it was found that employees who are engaged are much more likely to improve customer relationships and drive sales upward by about 20%.

Most importantly, take the time to equip staff with the tools and training they need to succeed so they feel confident in their role. 68% of customers say that having a pleasant, knowledgeable representative was the main driver for their positive experience at a business.

It’s also important to celebrate team triumphs as well as individual contributors who are going above and beyond. Employee appreciation events such as team lunches, ice cream socials, game or movie nights help highlight achievements and boost morale. People also love working for places that give back. Organize a volunteer opportunity for the team to do together. Create solid goals for the team to work toward. Establishing friendly competitions that align with those goals will keep everyone motivated and on the right track.

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10) Encourage Guest Feedback (Both Positive and Negative) on Social Media and Surveys

77% of consumers see brands that actively seek out feedback as more favorable and tend to do more business with them. A recent University of Central Florida study found that the more TripAdvisor reviews a hotel has, the more revenue it will generate with each transaction. Positive feedback is great to hear. You learn what you’re doing well and what the guest enjoys and appreciates. Who doesn’t love a pat on the back for a job well done? Positive reviews have a huge impact on not only return visits from that guest, but also future guests that may or may not know that particular person. When room prices are the same, travelers are nearly 4 times more likely to pick the one with the higher review score. Additionally, if a hotel is able to increase its review scores by just one point on a 5 point scale, the hotel can bump up its price by 11.2% and still keep the same occupancy. It’s the power of great service.

Negative reviews are sometimes hard to hear, but are just as important, if not more so, than the positive ones. This is a tremendous opportunity to learn where your team or property is falling short and the ability to now make improvements or adjustments. Responding to the guest as well as to the issue they pointed out is paramount. Sarah Tanford, an associate professor at William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration at the University of Nevada, conducted extensive research on the topic and found that negative online reviews will oftentimes outweigh other decision making factors for prospective guests when they are deciding where to stay, including price and location. How you handle negative reviews on sites like TripAdvisor can completely turn an experience around or at the very least, will speak to future guests that you apologized or made an attempt to make it right.

Mollie Beck, the founder of an online retail company called Continue Good, nailed the present customer service environment, “Just having satisfied customers isn’t good enough anymore. If you really want a booming business, you have to create raving fans.” By striving to execute on these tips (or even most of them) each day with guests, you’ll see a shift from having “guests” to “fans” and “friends”.

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