A friendly smile and warm welcome are a great first step. Here are five other ideas to help you and your team move from good to great.
1. Give something extra.
Giving something extra doesn’t have to cost a lot. It can be as simple as putting a handwritten “Enjoy your dinner” note on the room service tray or sending up a pot of tea with lemon to a guest with the sniffles.
A pleasant surprise is remembered; a pleasant surprise is shared. Find ways to surprise your customers … pleasantly.
2. Make it personal.
If you know your customer’s name, use it. If you don’t know, find out. Introduce new employees to regular customers. Let your customers know you appreciate them by remembering they drink their coffee black, they always ask for an extra pillow, they have two grandchildren or they are scared of dogs.
3. Take complaints seriously.
I know. Nobody likes dealing with customer complaints. You don’t need to like it, but you and your team need to know how to manage complaints when they arise. First of all, be thankful for the complaint. By far the majority of unhappy customers don’t complain … to you. Chances are they are letting others know. When a customer complains, what they are saying is “I want to come back. I am giving you a chance to fix this.” When you receive that opportunity, LEAP on it.
L – Listen to what they are saying. Ask questions. Do not brush them off with a quick solution, a reason (a.k.a. an excuse, from the customer’s viewpoint), or an insincere and half-hearted “Sorry.”
E -Empathize. Put yourself in their shoes. If you simply don’t understand their anger or frustration, remember the times you’ve felt angry or frustrated. How did you want others to respond to you?
A -Apologize. An apology doesn’t necessarily mean accepting blame, unless of course you did mess up. In that case, acknowledge the error. Sometimes customers complain because they’ve had a bad day, someone else messed up. Be sorry they are frustrated. Find a way to show them you care.
P –Partner. Be prepared to ask “What can I do to make this better?” or provide a variety of options for the customer to select from. Dictating a resolution leaves the customer out of the process. Work with them to find a solution.
Studies show that if you and your team can resolve a complaint before the customer walks out the door, there is a 70-90% chance you saved a customer relationship.
4. Watch your Language
No, this isn’t about proper grammar and avoiding slang, swearing, or industry jargon, although those all hold true. This is about focusing on delivering negative news in a positive way. For example, turn:
- “We only have studio suites available that evening” into,
- “I can reserve a studio suite for you that evening.”
Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, focus on what you do have.
5. Know your Plan B (and possibly C & D)
Too many rules, regulations and red tape are bad for business. They frustrate your customers and your employees. But some structure is necessary. Create guidelines instead of scripts; train your employees and provide on-going coaching and support. Create scenarios, or use real incidents and ask them to provide suggestions on how to handle those situations. Let your employees come up with their own words, based on your company’s service promise.
Be sure you and your managers are walking the talk. Everyone in the company, owners, managers, back-of-house and frontline employees, must be customer focused. Be the example by providing excellent customer service, not only to the paying customer, but also the people you rely on each and every day to keep those paying customers coming back.
To learn more about the services offered by Servicedge Training and Consulting, or to sign up for a free 45 minute “Service Strategy” consultation with Laurie, click here.