Four Ways to Improve Customer Service

Raising Skills for Top Line Success

Four Ways to Improve Customer Service

This is a blog by Seth Godin that I found and inserted some “hospitality” ideas into — My ideas are in green. What are yours??? Insertions by Janis Mitchell, HSN

1, Delegate it to your customers. Let them give feedback, good and bad, early and often.
By asking for feedback from our customers, be it good or bad, we win. Knowledge empowers us to repeat what is good and gives us the opportunity to correct anything bad. When you ask a customer, “How is your stay?” what are you doing with the answer? I love to quantify this in a day’s work — if I ask 10 customers, “How’s your stay with us?” and I get 5 good responses and 5 responses that need some work — I have absolutely succeeded. Getting those 5 responses that need some work to the management quickly and, if you are the management, reacting quickly and turning these lemons into sugar is what we do — that’s the WOW factor and that’s Customer Service.

2. Delegate it to your managers. Build in close monitoring, training and feedback. Have them walk the floor, co-creating with their teams.
This is clearly “managing by walking around” and, this is one of the most powerful management tools we have. By interacting with our employees, observing good and poor behavior as our employees interact with our customers, we are able to offer feedback, insight, and on-the-spot training and re-training. We are only as good as our feedback from management/ownership — sometimes we are negligent in this area and forget just how powerful on the spot feedback is.           General Managers must take the lead in this and guide their line managers to do the same. Discussions around what we are finding absolutely make this a meaningful customer service trigger. If you are not managing by walking around — start! It takes minutes per day and causes a tidal wave in increased customer service awareness and delivery.

3. Use technology. Monitor digital footprints, sales per square foot, visible customer actions.
This is our “research” level in hospitality — from this we find new patterns from our customers, we find new users of our amenities, and through just observing our customers, we find ways to WOW this customer while he/she is with us. Think about it — if we could offer one WOW to every customer — what a new feeling we have built for our hotel. If 3-5 employees take this on, then 6 – 10, then 12 – 20 as something they want to contribute to daily — we are changing our culture. Managers have the job of selling ideas and concepts to our employees — one employee by one employee, conversion begins. Manager, start selling this now.

4. Create a culture where peers inspire peers, in which each employee acts like a leader, pushing the culture forward. People like us do things like this. People like us, care.
You’ve probably guessed that the most valuable one, the fourth, is also far and away the most difficult to create. Culture is a posture that lasts. It’s corroded by shortcuts and by inattention, and fed by constant investment and care.
Altering the culture of a hotel is short range work and long range vision. It starts with the top person in a hotel, of course, the General Manager. By empowering our department heads to do the same exercises daily — re-enforcing all the steps above day by day, customer by customer — we begin to change the course. A customer service focused hotel certainly is appreciated and noticed by our customers. By asking for feedback — it will be noticeable that our positive feedback remarks will increase and our complaints and grumbles will decrease. I love this math!

Big company or small, it doesn’t matter. There are government agencies and tiny non-profits that have a culture of care and service. and then there are the rest…

We will not be “the rest”. This is your new mantra — say it again and again, write it again and again, demonstrate it every day again and again. Turning a tidal wave of poor customer service is not easy – it is built into the fabric of the hotel — but with steadfast push from management down — it begins to “take” and you will see and hear many of your mantras being repeated by your management team and then your employees. Make it happen. Start TODAY.