Hotels and hospitality businesses interested in a reputation for superior customer service should consider starting their quest with a customer survey. Some hotel surveys take the form of small cards left on the hotel room desk, and hotel guests generally ignore them unless the hotel experience is extreme. Results from such surveys often skew toward very positive or very negative experiences, so they offer little real insight into an average guest’s experience. Award-winning service requires a more sophisticated hotel survey than a hit-or-miss comment card can provide.
Hotels that aspire to provide award-winning service take the time to get to know their customers, using a variety of tools including loyalty programs, hospitality surveys, and detailed analysis of both their own and their competitors’ operations. By comparing information from multiple sources, they gain insight into customer preferences and services that make a difference in guests’ perceptions of the level of service.
Timing is Key to a Successful Customer Survey
The timing for hospitality surveys is critical to ensure that the guest has an accurate memory of events and services. If too much time elapses between a hotel stay and the survey response, details about the service become hazy especially for frequent travelers. In addition to well designed scaled questions, the survey should include the ability to capture guest comments and suggestions.
As Renee Evenson says in her book “Award Winning Customer Service: 101 Ways to Guarantee Great Performance”, it’s important to pay attention to what the customer says and to do what you say you will when you say you will do it. When your guest survey uncovers ways that your service has fallen short of expectations, correct the root cause immediately. If you can, thank the customer for bringing the missed expectation to your attention, and let them know about changes you make because of the survey. Not only is this courteous, but it also helps the customer feel connected to your hotel so they will look forward to coming back.
The best hotels have staffs that listen to customers and take care of their needs quickly and politely. Those individual moments of delight must become second nature to the entire staff so that every guest has an equally rewarding experience. The staff must become so attuned to guest needs that they anticipate expectations. Unless you make superior service an ongoing quest, you will never exceed the standards set by your competition.
It goes without saying that you have trained your staff to greet guests with a smile and pay attention to their needs and requests, but it takes more than a smile to earn customer service awards and customer loyalty. You must focus on continuously improving processes so that each time the customer returns they discover a new reason to delight in the experience. The best way to do that is with frequent, effective hotel surveys and careful, rigorous analysis of the responses.
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