The hospitality business lives and dies by one phrase: the customer is always right. Of course, consumers are wrong the majority of the time, but it’s essential to try and accommodate their wishes. If you don’t, someone else will. Corporate promises are a different beast altogether. “Trying” has no part in a company’s vocabulary: instead it is “yes I will.”
Once you make an assurance, it is the business’s responsibility to keep its pledge and deliver. There are no “ifs” and “buts” regarding this area of customer service. It sounds easy enough, right? All an organization has to do is find a quick and simple solution to a problem. Then, the customer will continue to spend their money with the firm for life.
Still, it’s amazing how many companies renege on a deal that is non-negotiable. It should be no surprise to hear that these hospitality businesses don’t last long. To avoid breaking your word to the people that matter most, take a look at the following. Here are eight methods that are worthy of the mantle “oathkeeper.”
Understand Your Mission Statement
Usually, businesses publish their rules and regs and targets online. Sadly, it’s a PR stunt to appease the consumers who stumble upon the website. For the most part, the mission statement goals are not something which the management keeps in mind during the everyday running of the firm. The problem with this attitude is that it divides the company and the consumers. Customers will expect traits such as quick service and small lines, yet will encounter the opposite. Just imagine if McDonald’s made people wait twenty minutes in line for a Big Mac. The term fast-food wouldn’t apply and the biggest brand in the West would lose custom. Whatever you publish to the public must be apart of the business’s processes to make sure you live up to your brand name.
Time isn’t on your side in this society. Customers, from adults to children, want goods and products and they want them as soon as possible. People don’t have time to waste, which means you have a series of strict deadlines to hit. Unfortunately, the time limits are impossible to keep to when the company only operates from 9am to 5pm. In this scenario, there aren’t enough hours in the day to deliver packages to customers that live halfway around the world. Parcels will soon backup, and disgruntled individuals will flood the phone lines in a fury. There are lots of ways to maintain your shipping promises, but opening 24/7 is the best option. By never closing, it gives you more time to handle an influx of orders and increase sales and revenue. Also, not shutting has an impact on bounce rate. Customers won’t wait until you reopen – they’ll just go elsewhere and never return.
Don’t Make False Promises
Shipping is an area which is full of lies and deceit. The firm knows full well that it can’t deliver in time, yet it “guarantees” to send a package in time. What happens next is obvious. The parcel doesn’t turn up, the customer contacts the customer service helpline, and the company’s reputation takes a hit. And, it’s all because bosses don’t like to admit they can’t compete with the competition. Some businesses have an excellent reputation because they are billion dollar corporations. Others have quality couriers. You are not, so the firm shouldn’t try to win a battle that it can only lose. Instead, focus on what the company can do and then tailor your promises. The times may be longer than the industry average, but they will be legitimate. As such, customers shouldn’t lose their temper and consider changing loyalties because they had a terrible experience.
Maintain The Website
The world is digital and a site is an essential resource. Without it, potential customers can’t browse what the business has to offer and make a conversion. Take a hotel booking as an example. Gone are the days when guests call the front desk to ask for advice. Now, they go online and glean as much info as possible by clicking on links and reading past reviews. First thing’s first: the website needs to contain the vital stats. From opening times to contact details, it all needs to be on the page for people to see. More importantly, the site needs to function perfectly 24 hours a day for 7 days a week. Slow upload times and long waiting times will just encourage a consumer to bounce to a competitor that can give them what they want. A website that isn’t live will force people to find an alternative and never come back. The key is to increase and decrease the bandwidth size as and when necessary. By using an analytics program, you can analyze the peak times and add extra bandwidth to avoid a crash.
Answer The Phones
To say that the World Wide Web is the only place customers go for information is misleading. Certain generations aren’t technologically savvy and prefer dealing with human beings. Therefore, owning a working phone line is a smart move to appeal to those who can’t be bothered with the internet. However, there’s no point in having a phone and not picking it and saying “hello, this is X, how may I help?” It’s shocking how many hospitality businesses let the phone ring out and never answer. To them, it’s a hassle they would rather avoid than a challenge to cherish. Aside from the effects on sales, there is also the customer service element to consider. Ignoring a person is easy, but it will end up with them cutting ties with the company completely. Plus, some people don’t disappear but instead find a way to get your attention. What you should do is create a dedicated team of employees that deal with queries and complaints. Ask them to work 24/7 and then train them so that their tone is professional and helpful. Hopefully, your team should be able to negate problem customers. If that is too much to ask, there are outsourcing companies.
Perception is the key to great customer service. Guests and clients believe the employees are there to enhance their experience, and they are correct. Workers shouldn’t be too busy messing around on the computer to attend to a customer’s question. Among other things, it makes the person feel as if they aren’t valued by the company. Also, it comes across as rude when there is a long silence and the employee doesn’t acknowledge the person’s existence. Completing admin tasks is essential but as important as dealing with paying guests. Therefore, always ask people “on the floor” to drop what they are doing and engage with customers. For example, a group may come into a restaurant and there is no one to greet them. So, another employee should quickly rush over and ask if they are okay. The two minutes it takes to seat a large party is nothing compared to the money it should make the business. And, it won’t take away from the other tasks as they will still be there 120 seconds later.
Be Safe And Secure
Safety and security aren’t two promises that you will hear often. It’s strange to listen to an advert that pledges these two traits as the main selling point. The reason it’s weird is that it is implied. Guests don’t expect to walk into a hotel and end up in a hospital as that isn’t a pleasant experience. Instead, they anticipate checking in and enjoying their stay without incident. The same goes for a data breach. By law, the company has a responsibility to make sure the info is secure and doesn’t end up in the wrong hands. Health and safety make the first issue simple to avoid, but cyber security is a lot tougher as it’s complicated. For the bosses with the budget, an outsourcer is an option worth considering. If you prefer to go it alone, there are a few basic tips to keep in mind. Firstly, pay for an antivirus software program and don’t rely on a free version. Secondly, only use strong passwords and change them once every month to six weeks. Finally, back up sensitive data and store it offline so that hackers can’t access it remotely.
Go The Extra Mile
It isn’t enough to keep promises – you have to go further. The reason for this is market saturation. There are too many rivals in the industry that will “one-up” you at every turn. Of course, that means their service is better and more appealing to customers. As a result, you have to be willing to go the extra mile and provide promises they never asked for or expected. When customers are amazed, it helps the business to stand out from the crowd and keep up with the competition. Remember that it’s the little things that count.
What promises do you make? Do you strive to keep them as best as possible?
* This is a collaborative post and may contain affiliate links
Oh my goodness YES! I am so sick to death with the huge companies that sadly we do need to deal with, who make things so very, very difficult for us when it is they who have made the mistake. Insurance companies are the worst! I now have
a broker from a smallish firm who deals with all of our insurance from house to car insurance. He now deals with the endless calls to different departments and we can just get on with our lives. Best thing we ever did. Don’t even get me started on British Gas ….