Susy Roberts is an executive coach and founder of people development consultancy Hunter Roberts. She has worked with hotels internationally to help them enhance their guest experience
How to convert good customer service into an excellent guest experience
All hotels – at least, those who are serious about providing a good product – will be thorough about comfort, cleanliness and customer service. But enabling staff to take the guest experience to the next level is what makes a hotel exceptional.
Luxury hotels with the room rates to match are at a clear advantage when it comes to delivering training– it’s their USP, after all, and they can’t afford to cut any corners. But it is possible to train staff to focus on the customer experience and deliver a first class service, regardless of your positioning.
Start with recruitment
The staff experience should mirror that of the guest from the beginning of the hiring process. If you want your teams to deliver exceptional service, that attitude needs to be embedded from day one. First impressions set a benchmark, and if someone is recruited by a sloppy, chaotic process they’re much more likely to turn up for work with the same mindset.
Your offering – whether it’s a reliable and familiar business stopover or a luxury couple’s getaway –should be impressed upon your prospective staff members from the moment they see the role advertised. Think about where the role is advertised, the wording that’s used and where the interview will take place. Does it truly reflect what you offer as a hotel? Just like the customer journey, every aspect of the staff journey should form a lasting impression of your brand.
Widen the scope of induction
For staff to deliver a quality experience, they need a thorough knowledge not just of the hotel they work in, but the whole sector. They need to see where they fit within the market so they know which position they need to perform. The expectations of guests will vary massively depending on the amount they’re paying for the experience they have been sold; those paying £850 a night will have very different expectations from those paying £50.
With your hotel placed within a wider context, you can then focus on giving your new team members a thorough briefing in what’s expected of them. A staff induction which focuses only on how to wear the uniform correctly or how many coffee cups to leave in each room will leave them ill-equipped to deal with complaints or requests in the correct manner. Your induction needs to help your new recruits understand the lifestyle and needs of your guests.
Think carefully about your offering and what your guests expect to see, then ensure that you are giving your staff the tools they need to support that experience.
Live the experience
Every single member of the hotel team matters. For the guest, everyone they come into contact with contributes to the hotel experience, and every member of your team needs to know how important they are. An induction should focus as much on behaviour and communication as it does on the technical aspects of a position, and the best way to learn this is to live the guest experience by spending at least one night in the hotel.
Until they’ve been welcomed by the doorman, eaten the romantic dinner, climbed into a turned-down bed and drank the freshly brewed coffee, your team won’t know what the guest will experience, or the impact their role will have on that experience.
Behind the scenes
For your team to provide an excellent guest experience, they need to be surrounded by the same values they are expected to deliver. Décor, bathrooms, rest rooms, staff restaurants and all communal back of house areas should reflect the hotel brand.
If you want your teams to be well-groomed, attentive, engaging and alert, give them the tools they need to be able to do so. Ensure there are good quality grooming products in the spotlessly clean bathrooms, don’t ask them to get changed in a cramped toilet; give them a good quality coffee machine for their well-earned breaks, not a jar of supermarket-brand instant; provide high-quality, fresh food in a comfortable restaurant, not limp sandwiches left over from yesterday’s conference.
Your staff are your ambassadors, and their actions leave a lasting impression. If they don’t feel part of the culture your advertising portrays, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to deliver it to your guests.