What's in it for me?
From cleanliness to how much you care about them post-stay, your guests remember it all. Hence improving customer service in 2022 would take a lot more than simply offering a complimentary fruit punch upon arrival. By the end of this post, you'd have a checklist ready at your disposal regarding the areas where improvement is the need of the hour!
As the sun sets on yet another year, the hospitality industry gears up for an all-new year with renewed hope and vigor.
If we are to pinpoint the single-most-important aspect or issue related to the industry, it is perhaps the quest to improve hotel customer service in the coming years. Due to the customer-centric nature of the industry, it is natural that customer service is the area that is emphasized the most. Hospitality institutions must always be at the top of the rapidly progressing industry with changes in every possible sphere. However, it is important to remember that customer service doesn’t comprise any single element but is a combination of elements that finally contribute to the end product of the excellent service.
The ongoing pandemic has also paved the way for various technological innovations that can lay a helping hand to the otherwise grim scenario. Aspects such as guest messaging, online reviews, and online reputation management, are some of the key ingredients that are important for delivering remarkable customer service. The new era of hospitality will be largely dependent on this evolving technology. Hence to improve customer service, these aspects need to be looked at closely.
The element of communication is often considered to be the bedrock of the hospitality industry as it is one of the objects with the potential to make or break your business. Guest satisfaction can be regarded as a list of steps and processes that aim to provide the guests a memorable experience during their stay at an accommodation of their choice. In other words, guest satisfaction is achieved when the expectations of the guests meet the service quality provided by the hospitality institutions.
The quality of service and brand value of any hotel is solely measured by or dependent on the level of satisfaction derived by its guests. The primary objective is to provide memorable customer service, generate revenue, and remain profitable while doing so. Even though small gestures are still important for any hotel, they might not be sufficient to improve hotel customer service. To grow and prosper in one of the most cut-throat competitive industries, ‘How to improve customer experience in hotels’ is perhaps the single most important question that needs to be answered.
The current guest expectations primarily revolve around having a personalized experience coupled with a memorable and comfortable time. In the quest for providing the guests with a top-notch and hassle-free experience, and in order to achieve this goal, hotels leave no stone unturned. The significance of guest satisfaction greatly amplifies when we consider it to be in direct correlation with the online reputation which, in turn, is responsible for highlighting your organization in a positive light. The aspect of guest satisfaction is considered to be at the core of the industry’s goal as it seeks to deliver the following benefits:
The emergence of Covid has disrupted the world economy and in turn, has immensely affected the hospitality sector. As we roll into yet another year, the learnings acquired from working in times like this, questions such as ‘How to improve guest services in a hotel?’ might be dealt with by leveraging the various technological developments or tools that are already present.
The pandemic has led to some major changes in customer expectations and needs, such as contactless service. However, the nature of the industry is customer-centric, as it primarily depends on face-to-face interactions, physical presence, and more personal touch. Due to the physical distancing norms in place worldwide, the challenge is to provide high-quality service while abiding by the various health guidelines that are implemented. However, optimal usage of technology is the future, and tools such as automated or guest messaging, AI or artificial intelligence, and usage of robots among others hold the potential to provide the much-needed boost for hotels to improve their performance and generate revenue regularly.
Personalization is the key to success and with the help of technology such as guest messaging, top-notch customer service can be easily provided without interfering with the health protocols and amid the rising demand for contactless services.
Also, to deliver a satisfying experience to your guests, you need to be able to anticipate their needs and have a deep and thorough understanding of the modern trends related to this in order to improve hotel customer service. However, before deep-diving into the world of contactless technology, let’s have a look at the basic question:
Contactless customer service primarily eliminates the phenomenon of human contact either partially or fully. As per the various health protocols related to customer safety, traditional face-to-face communication stands to increase the risks of contracting the virus. In such a scenario, contactless technology can be of immense help. Interactions of customers with the hotel at various checkpoints can be optimally designed to be handled digitally in providing customers with a safe, hassle-free, smooth and seamless experience.
The various stages that a customer goes through, right from the first point of contact to booking a hotel room, from checking in to checking out, contactless hospitality solutions have the potential to enhance operational efficiency while simultaneously preserving the name of the brand. According to a survey,
70% of millennials would rather prefer a contactless hotel experience. With gen Z customers this percentage is even higher.
One of the great advantages of implementing a contactless service is that it doesn’t require you to remove the aspect of personal touch. It helps you to provide a more pleasant and personalized experience for your guests and in turn, helps you to improve hotel customer service. Since the initial days of COVID-19 and even now, hotels have been hunting for various ways to deliver excellent and memorable experiences while abiding by the health and safety protocols.
The following are the improvements likely to play an important role in the future of the hospitality industry:
Additionally, this process helps in enhancing the operational effectiveness of the staff. Hotels such as Wyndham have already implemented express check-in into their arsenal of customer service and have significantly managed to increase their operational efficiency and enhance the level of customer satisfaction.
Upon the arrival of the guest, the PMS automatically informs the mobile key platform about their arrival, which in turn responds by sending a secure digital key to the mobile phone of the guest. The guest can use it to unlock their hotel door by simply tapping the button of the phone or by holding the mobile phone close to the door. Other hotel facilities such as gym, and elevator among others can also be availed through this feature, thereby boosting the customer experience in the hotel.
Upon checking out, an alert is automatically sent by the PMS to the mobile key platform which leads to the mobile/digital key being disabled. As of December 2021, Apple has announced a partnership with well-known hotel chains. Several hotels in the US have already started using room keys in apple wallets. Some of them are Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort, Hyatt Centric Key West Resort & Spa, Hyatt House Chicago/West Loop-Fulton Market, Hyatt House Dallas/Richardson, Hyatt Place Fremont/Silicon Valley, and Hyatt Regency Long Beach offering some of the exemplary hotel service examples.
But with the technological innovation coupled with the current pandemic situation, most hotels are returning to their roots of providing guests the option to order food from the comfort of their hotel rooms. This particular aspect is very useful in the current situations as well as for people who might continue to do so even after the end of the pandemic. This can immensely help to improve hotel customer service.
Organizations such as Four Seasons hotels and resorts have been offering guests the benefit of ordering from their rooms from the application since 2015. Certain Marriott hotels have also initiated this particular service and plan to extend it further shortly.
To avoid such a minor but painful glitch, pre-arrival messages can be scheduled ahead of time to be sent at a given time through the usage of AI and automation. This can be very effective in reducing dependency on staff, which helps in omitting any human error, streamlines the entire operational process, helps in effective utilization and deployment of human resources, and improve hotel customer service.
However, simply collecting reviews shouldn’t be deemed sufficient!
Rather collecting positive reviews in large volumes should be the aim.
To do so, the modern guest expectations should be met which primarily revolve around providing personalized and contactless service. Various issues have been highlighted while collecting reviews, especially the survey process. Hence, to be more effective, such surveys can be personalized according to the guest. For example - If a guest is fond of a particular food dish or activity, you can frame your questions keeping in mind this particular fact. The survey questionnaire can be designed as follows:
“Hey, Steve! Please rate our pizza and provide us with feedback based on your experience. Thanks!”
“Hello, Jennifer! We hope you enjoyed the skiing session at Blue Mountain and we believe our skiing equipment served you well? Is there anything we can improve here? Quick feedback won’t hurt, right?”
Hence, it is very important to always keep your hotel website updated regarding the availability of any particular service, especially the changes ushered in by COVID- lack of housekeeping, infrequent housekeeping, no breakfast, pack-and-go breakfast, suspended services, etc. If your property doesn’t own a website currently, you can always opt for an app that will provide your guests with up-to-date information about your hotel and help them make informed decisions. This might help you to create a positive brand reputation along with providing a hassle-free and contactless service. This will largely help to improve hotel customer service.
53.3 percent of customers expect businesses to respond to their negative reviews within a week. However, most of them are left disappointed as 63.3 percent of them say they’ve never heard back from a business about their review.
Hence, reviews should always be responded to as soon as possible along with including a personalized touch to the entire process. This will not only help you to turn the situation in your favor, but it might also lead them to change the review from a negative to a positive.
The administrative and operational efficiency of hotels can be drastically improved through tools such as guest messaging. Guest messaging can perhaps be the answer to your question regarding how to improve hotel facilities? This enables hoteliers to anticipate the expectations of the guests which in the current hospitality sector is a prerequisite in order to improve hotel customer service.
As a hotelier, clarity in communication is crucial. Coupled with the need to remain within the paradigms of health protocols, guest messaging can be regarded as a low-cost, high-value option to be responsive to the needs of guests and share important information before they arrive. Offering texting as a fast and convenient medium for guests to connect with your hotel is one way to stand out from the crowd and be viewed favorably, especially among younger generations who use their smartphones to text far more often than to check their email or make calls.
“Nearly 80% of consumers prefer to communicate with a business via text, and 90% of text messages are read within 3 minutes of receipt.”
Hotels of all shapes and sizes are and will always be on the lookout for adopting technology and implementing it in the quest of answering questions such as ‘How to improve hotel business?’
The outcome of years of rapid technological progress in the form of tools such as Automated messages/emails, Guest messaging, QR Codes, WiFi logins, and Printed URLs among others have been enjoying rising popularity. These tools have a wide variety of usage and can help you provide services such as customer-focused messaging to monitoring online reviews. Automated text messages have the potential to eliminate any underlying issues and amplify the quantum of efficiency of the hotel which can be a major hurdle otherwise.
Apart from providing swift replies and being available 24x7 for serving visitors, it helps in reducing costs, enhancing operational efficiency, and improving services, thereby elevating a holistic customer experience. Both customers and businesses can benefit from improved communication, reservations, and guest messaging. A quality experience is often followed by a positive comment, which in turn helps to improve hotel customer service.
To reach a certain level of customer satisfaction in the hotel industry and improve upon the current levels of operational efficiency, the various stages of the customer can be analyzed and worked on. Guest messaging can be optimally utilized at the different stages of the customer journey to create a long-lasting impact.
A guest journey mapping or customer journey mapping can be regarded as a visual picture of the different stages of the guest journey. The different stages usually depict the contact points or touchpoints which include the process of interaction between the hotel and the guest.
The idea is to outline the various points of contact across the various stages of the customer journey mapping and integrate tools such as guest messaging to be able to streamline the entire communication process. Furthermore, to improve hotel customer service and be comprehensive, hotels might need to create various customer journey maps which are based on a 360-degree point of view of the process of customer engagement.
The various stages of the hotel guest journey start from the pre-arrival stage to the check-out stage. One single text can help guests by allowing them to request a special service, ask for a personal concierge, and even communicate with the hotels after they’ve departed!
Hotels need to understand, anticipate, detect and finally satisfy the guests' requirements to enhance the overall guest experience while simultaneously driving the critical business metrics.
Online reputation management or ORM is primarily regarded as a multi-faceted concept that is usually aimed at creating awareness among the public regarding the brand and projecting the brand in a positive light to build up a positive public perception. The idea is to leave your target audience with a great first impression of your brand and the services offered by your hotel.
Since its introduction, the significance of hotel reputation management has only increased over the years. The reason for its rising prominence is based on the fact that it helps you to deal with yet another important aspect - positive online reviews and in turn, having a positive online reputation. Improving the online reputation of your hotel can be regarded as a continuous process that requires you to be proactive, reactive, and perceptive. It is important to remember that guest expectations evolve continuously.
Hence your aim as someone associated with the hospitality industry should be to provide quality experiences for your guests and acquire positive reviews to improve your hotel’s reputation.
The significance of a hotel’s online reputation and online reviews has amplified over time and is going to increase in the coming years. Hoteliers can no longer afford to neglect or ignore the role of online reviews in the process of attracting a wide customer base and creating a positive brand image, thereby impacting the hotel revenue and increasing sales.
To have a positive online reputation, you need to have a clear strategy regarding managing online reviews of your property. A recent study revealed that one negative review can cost your business up to 22% of its prospects. Review monitoring that usually includes sentimental analysis has become an integral part of the system as avoiding or ignoring online reviews can inflict high damage to the online reputation of a hotel. Furthermore, a one-star increase on Yelp leads to a 5-9% increase in business revenue. Hence, having a proper and effective strategy to deal with online reviews, especially the negative ones, can significantly improve the revenue generated by your business.
Contactless service is the new trend in the industry and one that is thought to be around for a long time. Hotels that are looking to offer their customers high-quality service can do so by utilizing tools such as guest messaging and automated messaging services to improve the quality of their service as well as their online reputation. If your hotel website is up to the mark, and you’re investing in improvements, the quality of your customer service will reflect your efforts. Your customers do understand that not everything will be functioning perfectly. But it is the commitment toward learning and adopting technologies such as these that count at the end of the day.
Nowadays, customers want websites that are easy to navigate and responsive along with an efficient booking process. In addition, they heavily rely on the feedback of other fellow travelers and it has become an integral part of their decision-making process.
To be consistent, technologies such as ORM are being implemented by organizations, to monitor and update their social media channels with content that is relevant and targeted. The idea is to create a successful customer service paradigm that can be easily done with integrated communications across the different channels to ensure that customers are receiving every message through the preferred mode of communication. While guest messaging can help in improving operational efficiency through streamlining communication within the organization, ORM can help in dealing with issues related to the reputation of the organization and work towards creating a positive brand image. Thus, to improve hotel customer service, the successful integration of both these technologies is crucial.
If customer service is considered the backbone of the entire hospitality industry, then the hospitality workers or the staff can most definitely be regarded as the backbone of hotels. These are the people who are responsible for providing you with a service that will make you return to a property again and again.
Your staff and the service rendered by them is the face of your property!
Hotels are known for the quality of the service provided by them along with the behavior and attitude of the staff. Hence, it is safe to say the quality of any brand depends largely on these people who are working tirelessly to contribute to the growth of any business. However, with rapid changes in technology along with the ever-changing expectations of the customers, the staff of any hotel must be trained regularly and effectively. Training the staff not only makes them familiar with current trends of the industry but also instills in them the much-needed skills, importance, and confidence to use any technological tools and turn a given situation in their favor. To further enhance the quality of service offered by them currently, the following skills can be worked upon:
A hotel that is truly aiming to transform itself by looking to provide excellent customer service, will try and make every possible effort to invest time in developing the standards of service to an extent that emphasizes exceptional service. The various methods that can be implemented to drastically improve hotel service quality have been discussed below:
So, bid goodbye to the practice of relying only on the old school comment cards and feedback forms!
Here's a quick checklist for you to gloss over:
The hospitality sector has been taught a harsh lesson by the pandemic but it has also in a way helped it to adapt to technologies that were to date considered a thing of the future. The future is here and with it, there’s been a drastic change in the way things were dealt with in the past. The pandemic has forced the hospitality industry to leverage technologies such as guest messaging, express check-in and check-out, AI, and automation in the different aspects of its operations to offer the best hotel customer service experience. Furthermore, the aim is to increase efficiency and promote contactless service which even a year back was virtually unthinkable. The shift from face-to-face interactions to contactless service has been surely rapid.
Stay up to date! Get all the latest & greatest posts delivered straight to your inbox