Customer service is crucial to the guest experience and your bottom line. But it isn’t only about what happens at the front desk. Customer service is about how quickly and effectively any requests or issues are resolved, whether they are expressed in person, by phone, or online. It’s about anticipating your customers’ needs throughout the entire guest journey to make them feel welcome.
Here’s how to implement stellar customer service at your property to win loyal guests and drive revenue.
Hiring & Training
Find employees with strong emotional intelligence (EQ) and train them well. Ask interviewees for real-life examples from their previous customer service experience or use hypothetical scenarios. (This tests both their EQ and ability to think on their feet.)
However, high emotional intelligence is still ineffective without training. Staff should know when it’s okay for them to bend the rules and when they should stand firm. It’s not a good idea to charge an upgrade fee if the showerhead is broken. Problem-solve and run through hypothetical situations with your team during regular refresher training sessions to boost confidence.
In-person conversations enable you to learn more about the guest (why are they staying with you? what are they looking to do?) and offer recommendations. How can you make their stay even better? Suggest relevant upsells or local partnerships, but avoid the hard sell. Guests can sense commission-breath.
Be attentive. Focus on what the guest is saying, not what you’re going to say next. Use the guest’s name.
Ask questions. You don’t know which recommendations and upsells are appropriate unless you know about the guest.
Smile and make eye contact.
Guests and potential guests have many reasons for calling your front desk. They could need fresh towels or have a question about your restaurant. Or they could need more details before they make that booking. The key word is “need.” It’s your job to figure out what their need is and how to meet it.
Listening is paramount, same as it is in person. However, tone also takes precedence here. They can’t see whether you’re smiling or not, so you need to show that welcome with your voice instead.
Record the details of the call in your reservation system whether or not the person books with you. If they call back, all their information is already there, and they don’t have to repeat themselves. WebRezPro property management system allows you to save notes to guest profiles for future reference, as well as create profiles and tentative reservations for customers who don’t end up booking right then and there.
Display your phone number prominently across your website and all online listings, including OTAs and your Google Business Profile.
Consumers expect efficient service via your website and social media, with 57 percent preferring brands that have customer service on social media. Use a social listening tool or reputation management system to keep up with what’s said about your brand online. You can’t respond to a negative comment or poor review if you don’t know it’s out there. And don’t forget to link to your booking engine from your Facebook page!
As for your website, make sure it’s easy to navigate and your FAQ page is up to date. Consider using a chatbot to answer common questions, but potential guests should always be able to reach a human if they need something more complicated answered.
Guest Messaging Platforms
Efficiency is key to customer service. No one likes hearing hold music for half an hour even if they are a fan of easy listening. Luckily, you have more options to communicate with your guests than just a landline (though a landline may still be useful).
Integrate a guest messaging platform, such as Akia or Revinate, with your property management system to give guests multiple—fast—options for communicating with you, including text, email, or app. Guest messaging apps enable guests to get in touch with your team whenever, from wherever. They can text you their room service order while they’re still at the spa, and you can have it ready by the time they return to their suite.
In addition, guest messaging integrations allow you to automate routine communications and upsells to enhance the guest experience.
Unfortunately, not every customer interaction goes as planned. Showerheads break, and miscommunications happen. It doesn’t matter if it’s the guest’s fault or yours; what matters is that you have to deal with it. (Though if the guest did something truly egregious, WebRezPro allows you to put them on a banned guest list. This is a good feature to use if too many other guests complain about someone.)
The silver lining here is that guests can become more loyal to your property if you successfully fix a problem than if there had never been a problem at all.
Don’t take complaints personally. But do take a second to breathe before responding.
Start by listening to your guest with your whole mind on what they’re saying. Empathize with their situation and offer an apology. You should be honest if something has gone wrong on your end; being cagey here is like a red flag in the matador ring. It establishes an adversarial relationship rather than one where you work together to find a solution.
Once a solution has been found and the customer has agreed to it, make a note in the guest’s record to help you remember to follow up later and check that the solution worked. It also allows you to identify common problems. Are multiple people complaining about the same issue?
Use profile information to anticipate guest needs and surprise and delight. Was your guest a little chilly last time? Add an extra blanket and set the thermostat to 72. Is it your guest’s birthday? Give them a cupcake and candle.
Showing guests extra care increases loyalty and the chance they’ll come back. It’s much easier to retain an existing guest than attract a new one. Though you still have to hunt down new ones too (sorry).
Your first impression matters, but so does your last. You want to leave guests with positive feelings when they check-out. Ask them how they enjoyed their stay and if there’s anything else you can do for them. Do they need a taxi to the airport? Your check-out experience defines your aftertaste, so make it a good one.
Extend that aftertaste through post-stay messaging. You can create post-stay email templates or use an automated guest messaging solution to send personalized messages automatically, inviting guests to provide feedback and thanking them for staying.
Customer service is the name of the game in hospitality. Whether in person or online, every touchpoint with a customer is an opportunity to win a loyal guest. Use these customer service tips to make guests feel valued and keep them coming back.