Can you relate to any of the following scenarios?
- Your computer crashes, so you call the manufacturer’s IT support line for help…
- Your car breaks down, so you call the auto repair shop to set up an appointment…
- You’re hungry, so you call a local restaurant to place an order for delivery…
However, you are placed on hold for a long time, you’re asked to leave a message or no one answers the phone at all!
It’s likely that anyone who’s ever had to call a business to place an order or receive support has experienced the frustration of attempting to get their initial issue resolved, only to encounter another problem due to poor customer service. It’s in situations like these where consumer brand loyalty that took months to develop is diminished within minutes and revenue that was previously expected is now placed into the pockets of a competitor. Of course, losing some customers to competitors comes with the territory in business, but companies must be aware when it’s their poor customer service that’s driving away revenue.
The foundation of every successful independent hotel is exceptional customer service. However, with increasing competition within the lodging industry and the growing importance of digital distribution and social media, the customer service cycle begins well before guests arrive in hotel lobbies. Exceptional customer service will never go out of style, so here are a few tips to help ensure that independent hoteliers are living up to their guests’ expectations.
- Regularly review every phase of your online booking process, via OTAs and direct booking, as if you were a new guest. Scrutinize each step and check for broken links, misspelled words, incorrect information and any other mistakes that could turn guests away during the booking process.
- Check online mapping services, like Google Maps and MapQuest, to ensure your hotel’s address and location are correct.
- Claim your hotel on 3rd party review sites and update the contact information listed for your property.
- Review your hotel’s online reviews on OTAs and social media weekly to identify any ongoing trends that may be upsetting or pleasing your guests. Also, read through your competitors’ reviews to determine their strengths and weaknesses and use this information to make improvements at your property.
- Review every customer-facing point of communication, such as voicemail message and team member email signatures, to ensure all contact information is uniform, current and correct.
- Use a call forwarding service to route front desk calls to a manager’s cell phone during busy periods, so booking opportunities are never missed.
- Create a formal follow-up system for all inquiries, including emails, phone calls and social media messages, and assign the responsibility to a reliable team member.
- Re-train team members on preferred customer service tactics and policies, so guests receive the attention and hospitality they deserve throughout their entire experience.