HOTELS & HOSPITALITY: Using Technology to Make Your Customer Service Experience Pro-Active, Not Reactive
We hear it all the time. “I trust my staff”.
The sentiment is totally admirable. If you are really in the very fortunate position of being able to say with 100% certainty that you CAN trust every one of your staff to give the kind of attentive service that they would give to their own infant children… then you are doing something very, very right.
But let’s get real. Hospitality is competitive, and margins are tight. The pressure that hoteliers feel to maintain high standards, whilst keeping staff costs low… is extreme. This means that many of your staff are likely to be lowly paid, maybe even minimum wage. Almost certainly overworked. Meaning that their motivation to treat your customers like their own, may not always be what you would want it to be.
The number of customer “touch-points” in terms of their overall experience of your brand is huge. Every time that a customer interacts with you and your staff, be it in a physical or virtual sense, it offers the opportunity to build an amazingly positive perception of you, your brand, and the experience that you provide to all of your customers. Errrm… or not.
When you have residents, who are potentially residing with you for days or even weeks, the opportunity for the sum of all these experiences to be negative, rather than positive, is sizeable. You have a restaurant where despite the best efforts of the chef, a front-of-house person may serve wine in a glass that is smudged. Your maintenance guy may have forgotten to fix the air-con unit in the honeymoon suite, for a couple who want everything to be “just perfect”. Your receptionist may just be having an off-day, which is why she forgot to give that all important message to the extremely busy sales executive from New York. You know, the one who flew in jet-lagged this morning and needed that life-or-death phone message an hour ago, NOT 10 minutes ago.
Technology can be a help AND a hindrance here. On the down-side, it is now so easy for a customer, independent reviewer or regulator to communicate negative experiences to a wide audience quickly and easily. Especially in the UK, where let’s face it, we’re so much more likely to talk about a negative experience than a bad one. And we also have a seemingly innate desire to paste it all over the internet.
But technology can also be used to turn your organisation into one which reduces the likelihood of this ever happening, by preventing problems before they occur. It can be used to keep every piece of equipment working, 24/7. It can make sure that all thoroughfares are clear, every day of the year, even at 3am. But most importantly, it can help your staff not to be over-reliant on their tired, stressed-out brains to remember every task that they need to achieve in a day. Sometimes, a smile or a voucher is simply not enough to turn a bad experience into a positive one, especially if the issue could have been easily prevented. This is of course doubly so if the issue has impacted on someone’s health or safety.
The point with technology is that it enables you and your key management staff to be pro-active about customer service rather than reactive. It means that a heating unit will be turned on 30 minutes before a customer takes occupancy of a room when it is -5 outside, rather than finding out that it does not work 5 minutes after they arrive.
In terms of health and safety, it means that you will know that a fire exit is blocked before the vulnerable night hours when your guests are asleep. Rather than having to produce paper-log books that show that the exit was checked 2 days previously, when dealing with an investigation that has proven that it was blocked resulting in death or injury on the day that disaster struck.
For more information about how we can turn you into a pro-active rather than reactive business, call Richard Dickety on 01634 757 088 or 07779 563 678.