Guest post by Cathenry.
“Customers Will Respect You if You Push Back with Good Reason” is another lesson cited in the Forbes article (Nine Impactful Customer Service Lessons That Can Change Your Business Approach) worthy of consideration. It is difficult to be all things to all people while keeping the quality and best interest of your service intact.
Most of my initial contact for bed and breakfast guests is over email, text, or phone call. I am a brick-and-mortar business but my first contact with guests is not as a walk-in. This precaution is, to be honest, for my safety and to a much lesser degree, privacy. I live on site.
One guideline in place is a 24-hour notice for a booking so I can prepare for clientele as I have no employees per se (I do use the occasional cohost, a cleaning team, and yard service at times). Health and cleaning precautions, heightened during the pandemic, have made this an acceptable guideline.
I advertise mainly virtually through digital venues directing guests to my website and booking mechanism. Still, the occasional road warrior 10 minutes out, who did an internet search on his phone while driving, texts that he wants a room. He hasn’t been to the website to see what’s what (honestly a lot of people don’t read the website hence I have planted, and mentioned, an advertised “easter egg” incentive of a room discount on the website). He just wanted a bed for the night. I respectfully let him know I need a 24-hour notice. As a courtesy, I redirected him to other options in the area to check out.
This fellow eventually shows up at my door (which is when I noted he had a knee brace and a cane…I am not handicap accessible and my guest rooms are upstairs). He asked again if I could put him up. This additional face-to-face confrontation unnerved me a bit, but I stuck to my initial response further explaining to him that my booking agency confirms identity, email, and copy of legal identification not to forget to mention qualifying for liability insurance by these guidelines. He asked couldn’t I just not say anything to the insurance company. Then I looked down at his disability and he followed my eyes. I said no I am not handicapped accessible. He backed off, said he understood and left. (Total transparency: I locked my doors, turned off all the lights, and kept my phone on speed dial to the local small-town cops!)
Along the lines of a previous post about “the customer is not always right,” being prepared to communicate politely, explaining a situation from a business standpoint and the quality of the service provided, the safety or well-being of all staying goes a long way in ensuring the integrity of your business practices.
Another example: The accommodations I offer are also not suitable for small children. This request comes up often. The accommodations in the house are not child-friendly for a child that would need constant monitoring. One couple, a referral from another business in town, had a 3-month-old. I have the accouterments to accommodate little ones but usually don’t because again, if a guest has a crying child, it’s not so good for the guest on the other side of that wall, and therefore not so good for business. There were no other bookings at the time, so I took the risk while letting them know my concerns and it worked out nicely. Another guest became a friend.
Honest communication and respect usually produce the same in return.
This is the sixth in a series of posts. Read all posts here.
Cathenry has operated a boutique bed and breakfast enterprise in her home since 2014. Her business goal is to give guests a positive and memorable customer service-driven bed and breakfast experience. She always has gravitated to businesses demonstrating sound professional ethics, clear communication, and successful customer service. Having known customer service advocate Mark Lusky for more than 11 years, collaborating as a guest blogger is a natural outgrowth of their association.
Drawing on her extensive hospitality, hosting, event planning and customer outreach experience, Cat brings to the table unique perspectives and insights that expand the gravitas of this customer service-driven blog. She also brings to bear intense curiosity stemming from serving as a former reporter, teacher, and organizational coach with certified training.
As research and curating of information have long been Cat passions, she also will offer the perspectives and insights of third-party subject matter experts in the field of customer service as part of her guest blogger contributions.