Little touches take customer service to another level

Legendary basketball player and coach John Wooden said, “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” When it comes to customer service, those little details can make or break a company. That little extra bit of encouragement or support (or lack thereof) can make all the difference between a positive and negative experience—and a corresponding thumbs-up or thumbs-down review.

Property management system Webrezpro.com called out five “make or break moments in the guest experience.” Their website notes, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. When working to create an exceptional guest experience, hoteliers would do well to remember Maya Angelou’s wise words. A seamless holiday full of five-star amenities can be overshadowed by one poor interaction with staff. On the other hand, a well dealt-with crisis can earn loyalty for life. It’s all about how your guests are left feeling when they walk away.”

My near-perfect hotel experience last April in San Francisco was blemished only by a rude coffee vendor in the lobby. Technically, he was part of the hotel so it reflected on them. Isn’t it amazing how one seemingly inconsequential hiccup can stay stuck in the mind? After all, here I am recalling it three months later.

Given that interactions with anyone, not just customer-facing staff, can impact overall impressions, it’s vital to provide customer-service training to everyone. In a hotel setting, this includes housekeeping, food service, maintenance, et al. Any one of these people can make or break a customer’s evaluation of a particular experience or service.

This can seem daunting. After all, how can any company cover every base all the time? The key is to train customer service as a core part of everyone’s job—and empower and incentivize employees to take initiative to help.

In a hospitality setting, make sure the housekeeping staff is tuned into checking out rooms every time they clean. Is a light bulb out? Is the TV remote control balky? How’s the coffee maker performing?

By being hands-on daily with rooms, housekeeping can provide valuable “eyes and ears” to ensure everything’s up to snuff—creating fewer issues with the “little things” that can spoil a stay. In compensation for their due diligence, housekeeping staff should be incentivized through recognition and tangible rewards—so that this becomes a “want to” instead of a “have to.”

This seems simple and basic, but the positive impact on customer service adds up.

Many hospitality companies, particularly the larger ones, may balk at this idea. After all, it takes more time—and time is money. And, tangible rewards cost money—right?

Both these concerns can be relegated to bean counters who only see dollar signs. In reality, regular room checking can be done in a small fraction of the time it takes to clean the room. And, “tangible rewards” come in all sizes, shapes and denominations.

Working a trade/cross referral deal with local eateries and the like can establish a cash-less cache of perks. As with the “little things” themselves, small rewards that show acknowledgement can bring big benefits.

With a bit of brainstorming, most companies can find cost-effective and efficient ways to improve customer service—along with their reviews and positive press.

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Mark Lusky is a veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience.

Author of A Wandering Wondering Jew… and co-author of Don’t Get Mad, Get Leverage,  Mark (aka The Happy Curmudgeon) is the owner of a Denver-based marketing communications firm.

One thought

  1. Your comment about how one small negative experience is often remembered longer than many more positive ones is true. Perhaps we, as customers, have unrealistic expectations? How can any business meet an unrealistic expectation?

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