10 Sure Fire Ways to Give Great Customer Service

June 5, 2019 by Jennifer Hansen

This week we are featuring Samantha Irwin’s article on the best ways to give great customer service. Samantha is a customer service expert and a former owner of a boutique 18-room hotel, making her one of the best people to ask about hotel service. The busy tourist travel season is kicking into gear! The best way to maximize all those marketing dollars and time you’ve spent on your website, social media, photos, room prep, etc. is to be at the top of your Customer Service game. In an age where choices are many, your business needs to find a way to stand apart from the competition.  

“70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated.”

~ McKinsey

“66% of consumers who switched brands did so because of poor service.”

~ Esteban Kolsky – CEO of thinkJar

#1: Know Your Stuff You need to know your product inside and out, backward and forward. ONLY then are you able to concentrate on the customer. Try the food you serve so you can recommend your favorite. Stay in some rooms! You’ll not be able to speak to the comfort of the beds, the different room styles, or fall in love with the scent of your soaps unless you’ve experienced them. #2: Know How to Do the Processes Learn that POS (Point of Sale) and reservation system so well that you could check someone in or out with your eyes closed. This allows you to pick up on customer cues. Are they looking impatient, hot, thirsty, hungry, haggard, etc? Picking up on these clues will help you deliver extra care and solve a problem they may have. #3: Know Your Area Learn about your surroundings! Go to the museum, coffee shop, the bakery, and take that hike. You can enhance your customer’s experience with your recommendations based on finding out their interests. Imagine checking into a hotel with your motorcycle helmet and having the guest services representative take notice and recommend some great rides. You’d appreciate getting the inside scoop and feel like a special A-lister! (You don’t have to be the moto rider as long as you know someone who is! Ask them what they recommend and then pass it along to your guest.) #4: Track Your Customers This is vitally important. Know your customers preferences, likes, dislikes, interests, and personal information. We had a couple that came to the hotel every year for the summer solstice. They were both busy and sought-after writers. We knew that they always wanted room #15, they didn’t really want much attention. They preferred to retreat to their rooms and balcony with their books and one another. What could be done to enhance their experience? Prior to their arrival we could make sure we placed some balcony chairs out for them and maybe slip a gift card for a local bookstore into their room. It’s the little things that make people feel special! We also pre-booked their room each year, reserving it for them ahead of time before they asked. Know the guest’s profile before they check in. Prepare for them. They’ll notice. #5: Smile It’s really that simple. Smile at people! Look at them when they enter, smile, and give a greeting. Do this every single time. People have a need to feel recognized, especially in this digital age where many people are on their phones walking down the street and in the check-out line at the grocer. Be different. Be the place where people go and feel like their presence matters to someone. (See the power in a smile by clicking HERE. Who would you want to greet you at the front desk?) #6: Be Grateful Yes, some guests might not be your favorite. Sometimes personalities simply clash. However, always remember that the person standing in front of you (maybe even annoying you) is choosing your establishment. They’re choosing your place to spend their dollars and they could choose somewhere else. Their dollars are paying your wage. (I think of these personality challenges as “growth opportunities”. There are always “growth opportunities”!) #7: Thank Your Guests A simple ‘thank you for choosing us’ speaks volumes. Gratitude is an excellent attitude. #8: Exceed Expectations Mistakes will happen. You’ll mess up a reservation, get an order incorrect, bring caf. when they wanted decaf (then they’ll be up ½ the night). We double booked, by accident, on a Friday night in the busy summer season. Oh MAN that’s the stuff nightmares are made of. When I realized our error, I quickly got on the phone to a boutique hotel not too far a drive from us, explained my predicament, and booked a room that was a equal to or upgraded from the one they originally booked for two nights at our place. Solved the problem and hopefully met the guests expectations. We double booked, by accident, on a Friday night in the busy summer season. Oh MAN that’s the stuff nightmares are made of. When I realized our error, I quickly got on the phone to a boutique hotel not too far a drive from us, explained my predicament, and booked a room that was a equal to or upgraded from the one they originally booked for two nights at our place. Solved the problem and hopefully met the guests expectations. Then I took it one step further: I asked the agent to help me with choosing some treats to leave in their room. We gratefully paid for the room and the treats. When they arrived at our place I quickly explained the error admitting our mistake and then solving the problem (I wanted to move them from irritation to ‘ok, we can deal with this’, as fast as possible.) Up the ante more: When they returned to our place the second night it was complimentary. The hotel room was not discounted 10%, 15%, 20%, etc. It was discounted 100% AND there was wine and a personalized thank you note in the room. In that thank you note was a gift certificate. Exceeding Expectations: The additional two-night gift certificate was completely unexpected to the guests (as was the free night). We also intentionally left the gift certificate blank and let them know that if they wanted to give it to someone as a gift that they were welcome to it. Imagine this was you. Hopefully you would have left our hotel and been overwhelmed and impressed by how we worked to not only solve the problem we had caused, but also by how much we worked to gain your continued business. #9: Be Observant Take note of the people standing in front of you. If it’s hot outside and they look sweaty, offer them some cucumber ice water. If they’re struggling with their luggage, jump in to help them. If they look a little lost, approach them and offer your guidance. If you can preemptively provide the solution to their problem, your guests will appreciate the thoughtfulness and be able to relax and enjoy their stay that much more. #10: Ask Questions Get your guest talking! Then, of course, listen. You can pick up a myriad of clues ranging from interests, to family, work, etc. Just by asking questions, and actively listening we’ve found out that an anniversary stay booked a year ago was now a respite for his wife battling cancer. She needed more pillows to try and rest upright. We found that the double-booked room couple (above) had just lost their beloved dog that week. UGH! (To think that they were walking into our place needing to grieve. What if we hadn’t gotten them a room at another place but instead had to turn them away? Oh my that would have been so awful.) We found out that a regular who booked an annual anniversary stay was actually bringing a girlfriend. A lot can happen in a year. . . Important to note when leaving room names inside the door. Practice these 10 tips with your employees and brainstorm fun ways to ‘up the ante’ for your businesses customer service. Your guests will love the way they feel when staying at your place! They’ll come back and bring their friends. That’s what customer service driven growth gets you. It’s fantastic.   Do you have a Customer Service WIN story to share? Shoot it over so we can publish and inspire other businesses with your story! info@Kaizen.Zone  Samantha Irwin is a former owner of an 18-room historic boutique hotel. She’s a business coach, consultant, and blogger with a passion to help small businesses succeed. Her website is www.Kaizen.Zone.com     Great customer service leads to great reviews. Did you know reviews are critical for your search engine rankings? Learn more – watch this webinar on demand!