Written by Marcus Collins, General Manager, Ayres Hotel Anaheim
If you search customer service articles on the net you will quickly come across an author who bemoans the standards of customer service in the modern era. We are constantly told that Customer Service is important but a lack of a definable ROI leads business owners to keep their wallets securely in their pockets when training for customer service is proposed. Customer Service isn’t rocket science but we miss so many opportunities to elevate it.
The #1 most important way to identify whether a guest is experiencing a problem with the hotel that they haven’t yet shared with you: Ask! Any time a guest comes to the front desk, looking for directions, a bottle opener, a toothbrush, pool towels or a restaurant recommendation; ask them how their stay is. Change your phraseology so you don’t sound repetitive:
“How is your room, is everything OK?”
Are you enjoying your stay with us?”
“Are you happy with your room, is there anything you need?”
Then make sure to fix the problem quickly. If you don’t know how, make it a priority to ask. A manager would rather hear about a problem right away than in a bad review or in a long complaint email
Look for the signs and the clues and then ask intelligent questions. You hear a guest arranging to be picked up to go to the airport, you offer the business center computer and printer to print a boarding pass, you hear someone telling their friend they have no charger, you offer one, you notice that a child is fussy, you offer a coloring page printed off the internet and crayons or some sort of distraction. You notice a guest frustrated in the breakfast room, you offer help.
Make sure you are forthcoming from the beginning. When you check each guest in, advise them that we are available to help 24 hours a day and to feel free to call the desk for assistance. Some staff members introduce themselves, offer their business card and say what their shift hours are, or if they are going off shift, they advise who will be working. This makes the staff member more approachable and more likely to be engaged when there is a problem. Follow up calls to the room also help identify problems. I tend to wait no more than 5 to ten minutes. Guests will notice most fixable problems within minutes, a smell, a broken ac, a hair on the bed.
The PreparedThere are so many ways we can be prepared before the problem hits. You are sold out the following day and there are lots of requests, make sure to take care of them early, pre-allocate rooms so that the guest staying 2 weeks is not next to the ice machine. Review your report that lists guest requests and address any challenging situations with your boss. I sometimes review the guest requests for the whole of the following week. It has saved me from potential nightmares more than once. Make sure you are fully stocked with the basics. Keep a plastic container full of blankets, towels and sheets for staff working on their own to hand out. Set yourself up with a “WOW” bag. Have phone chargers, sun cream, umbrellas, conditioner, razors, shoelaces, sunglasses, a belt and a tie ready for the guest who forgot theirs.