The latest J.D. Power North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study (2015) revealed that guest satisfaction has risen to a record high, driven by a significant drop in the number of guests who experienced a problem during their stay. The study found that staff interactions with guests have a huge impact on mitigating problems; there is a 50 percent reduction in the average number of problems experienced when staff members greet guests with a smile “all the time,” compared to when guests are only greeted with a smile “sometimes.”
Despite all the technology available to us today and the digitization of customer care, face-to-face service is still key to great hospitality.
Here’s how to maximize positive employee-guest interaction for maximum guest satisfaction.
Find the Right People.
It only makes sense that people working in hospitality should be hospitable themselves, but I’m sure we’ve all experienced interactions with hotel or restaurant staff that we hoped were just having a bad day!
Take time to find the right people for your business. In hospitality that typically means friendly, empathetic personalities with the ability to remain calm under pressure and anticipate guests’ needs. You want staff who are willing to go above and beyond for your guests, earn their loyalty, and turn them into advocates for your property.
Cross-Train & Empower Your Staff.
Opening this winter, Arrive Palm Springs is a next-generation hotel that aims to make guest service as smooth and simple as possible by doing away with many traditional hotel formalities like the front desk. To fulfil such a mission, the hotel has adopted an “anyone can help” attitude; recruiting employees that are willing and happy to perform tasks outside of their job description, and cross-training staff to help each other out.
We like how Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, puts it: “Customer service shouldn’t just be a department, it should be the entire company.”
Cross-training your staff empowers them to take responsibility of various situations, helping to ensure that customer requests and complaints are dealt with quickly and according to policy, increasing not only guest satisfaction but employee job satisfaction too.
Engage Your Employees.
“Highly engaged employees make the customer experience. Disengaged employees break it.” — Timothy R. Clark in The 5 Ways That Highly Engaged Employees are Different.
A while ago we shared some tips on how to increase staff engagement, which included fostering a learning culture with ongoing training and frequent feedback, sharing company goals and numbers with your employees to give them a sense of ownership, recognizing and rewarding high performance, and creating a strong team environment to ensure that all departments run together like a well-oiled machine.
Equip Your Employees with the Right Tools.
From training to software, strive to provide your staff with the tools that empower them to perform their tasks excellently — not just adequately. Take, for example, your front desk software: an efficient check-in process is crucial, but imagine the enhanced level of service that can be achieved with a system that allows reservation-specific notes and pop-ups to be set for service personalization purposes, like congratulating the happy couple checking in for their honeymoon. As another example, mobile property management systems free your staff from the front desk, allowing them to tend to guests promptly from anywhere on your property.
“Never underestimate the power of the human element. Whether it’s assisting a guest with a special request or a friendly greeting from staff members in the hallway, the people aspect plays a key role in guest satisfaction and loyalty.” — Ramez Faza, Sr. Account Manager at J.D. Power and Associates.