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Simple Ways to Provide Effective Customer Service

By Alex Gaggioli, October 7, 2016

Introduction

Customer service is the pinnacle of any hospitality business. There are so many different factors that influence how a guest feels about their stay. There are also a lot of different questions to ask to gauge their experience. Were their expectations met? Overall, were they happy with the service you provided? What could have gone better? The biggest hurdle in getting answers is asking the right questions. Taking the time and effort to follow up with guests can help you uncover valuable information.

Recently, I had a customer service experience where I felt that their team went above and beyond. While it wasn’t related to travel, it was related to a service provided. Usually, after you receive any type of service, whether it be a stay at a hotel or servicing your car, the company offers some sort of post communication, usually in the form of an email.

But, in my latest experience, before any email communication was sent, I received a call from the service manager who wanted to ensure my visit had gone as planned. Unfortunately, in this situation, something had gone wrong. But, because he decided to call, my problem was dealt with in a timely matter.

After the call, I received several email communications updating me on the status of their resolution. It wasn’t until after the problem was solved that they sent me a survey where I could rate their service.

This experience serves as a perfect example as to why every service-oriented business needs a customer-service plan. The service provider had a clear internal protocol for handling complaints. For businesses like hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, and inns, it only makes sense to have a similar internal process.

How to Handle Post-Stay Customer Service

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Your property’s customer service opportunities extend far beyond a guest’s visit. In order to provide a “wow” experience, it’s important to include both pre and post-stay customer service opportunities. Here, we’ll talk about ways you can set your property apart for every guest.

Create a Customer-Service Plan

Most properties aim to please each of their guests while they’re on the property. But, there’s more to customer service than when someone is physically inside your property. Before and after matter just as much. That’s why you should create a plan that helps create an encompassing customer-service experience.

Create a plan that lays out how you’ll ensure a guest has a great stay. Decide if you’ll call or email them before their stay, and how far in advance that should happen. Depending on your property type it might be only a day, or could be an entire month beforehand.

Then decide how will you ensure their stay is great while they’re on the property. Most properties I’ve been to or talked to already have a plan for guests on property. For full-service properties, there is a more hands-on approach. Select service properties may find that’s it more effective to respond to ongoing customer needs. Both are fine, but it depends on your specific property.

And finally, what will you do after they leave to make sure their expectations were met. Most properties use a combination of phone calls and emails to gauge customer satisfaction.

The Phone Call

While a majority of people prefer communicating through text or email these days, a phone call is still pretty powerful. In my experience above, it was the post-service phone call that helped alleviate the problem quickly and efficiently.

Some properties call their guest prior to arrival. This allows the property to understand the nature of the guest’s trip and ask if they can do anything to prepare for their arrival. It also lets the guest know that they can call the property with any requests, such as early arrival, late arrival, etc.

Then, after a guest leaves a property, you can call them to make sure everything went as planned. If everything went great, you can follow-up with a request to review your property or fill out a survey.

If things were less than perfect, you can make a plan to fix it. Being proactive about post-stay feedback can help you avoid negative online reviews. Also, most importantly, it shows that you value your guests’ happiness.

Use Email

Pre and post-stay emails are pretty standard today, but you should use them to ensure a positive customer service experience. A pre-stay email should include any and all information that’s necessary for a guest to know. This includes everything from check-in and check-out time, to weather, to on-going activities in the area.

A post-stay email’s purpose is to ensure that a guest’s experience met their expectations. What I liked about the interaction I had mentioned above is that they called before they sent an email with a survey. A call that comes before the email gives you, the service provider, the ability to manage a problem before they take a survey. However, post-stay emails are still a great way to manage your property’s reputation on their own.

We previously created a guide on post-stay survey best practices that you should check out here. Surveys are a valuable way to gain information about your property. It’s also another effective way of reducing the number of negative reviews.

Conclusion

While every property handles customer-service differently, these tips are universal for most hospitality businesses. The first step is to create a plan and decide how you’re going to approach customer service before, during, and after a stay. Then, implement and measure the results of your actions. In order to surprise and delight your customers, it may take some time and extra effort to ensure they had a good stay.

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