For hospitality organizations, quality is the cornerstone of customer relationships. It’s the difference between “meh” and magnificent service that turns guests into loyal brand advocates. Yet at the heart of quality is consistency. Customers expect quality service not just once or every so often but across their end-to-end experience with a brand. For hotels, this means across every interaction, transaction and touchpoint—not just when customers are actively staying at their property.
Customer relationships are most affected by the level of quality a company provides. Here are four ways hospitality leaders and managers can improve, streamline and maintain quality standards:
Define and Document
Surely, you have expectations regarding quality of service (for example, guidelines for handling customer conflict) but are they defined within your organization? That is, are they documented in some form and presented across the entire company—all employees, partners and properties—in an easy-to-understand way?
Doing so ensures a solid understanding of expectations, policies and procedures to drive consistent, quality service that keeps customers coming back. This also provides security for employees who can feel overwhelmed or stressed due to a lack of structure. Best of all, this will clearly distinguish the characteristics that set your property apart from competitors, enabling every employee to clearly paint the picture of service excellence.
Pair quality standards with measurable criteria for your organization to use to ensure you’re consistently meeting service expectations. Consider room availability: create benchmarks in preparation for early arrivals and heavy check-ins, and work to ensure you always have enough associates on hand (i.e. housekeeping, mid-shifts). In terms of courtesy, you might make cleanliness and comfort top requirements with specific ways to measure these key drivers. Virtually every business area can be measured in this way with target goals for driving consistent, memorable service: interior (lobby, reception desk, guest rooms), floors, public areas (parking lot, pool), amenities, etc.
Create a Rewards System
Mix things up by offering staff incentives for positive performance. One of my favorites is the “Name Challenge.” It’s a great way to improve guest service scores and maintain quality standards while rewarding hard-working employees. The idea is to motivate employees to work together to deliver exceptional service, which will hopefully drive positive guest reviews. Those employees that go above and beyond have the best chance of having their name mentioned in a response. Have your HR team or department managers track employee names and document them in your customer relationship management (CRM) or workforce management (WFM) system. Those employees with the most name mentions will receive points and be eligible for rewards. It’s just one more way to drive superior, consistent quality with measurable results.
Superior service is experienced across the entire guest journey, not just with customer-facing staff. That means bringing back-office employees to the forefront with tools that allow for transparent, personalized communications and collaboration. This could mean reassessing your existing technology or implementing new solutions to ensure more efficient and aligned quality of service. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a rip and replace (though keep in mind systems over five years old should be upgraded). This can be an easy collaboration tool like Slack that streamlines and strengthens team coordination.
Here are three actions you can take now to start delivering more consistent, quality service:
1. Create a roadmap of quality standards: Create a timeline of deliverables for maintaining and/or improving your quality standards. For example, by June you’ll have all quality standard guidelines documented in some form. By August, you’ll roll out a new employee incentive program. By October, you’ll have the first draft of a proposal for better gauging customer satisfaction. By December, you’ll have three new ideas for improving quality standards in the coming year.
2. Document five quality standards best practices: Start documenting now—as in right now, today. You already have best practices established in some way, shape or form. Type them up in a formal document and make them accessible via an intranet (a restricted company network) or private document-sharing program that all employees, partners, managers, etc. can access. These best practices can be as simple as ensuring there is always someone at the front desk to greet guests. Documenting in this way sets a clear precedent for employees, with guidelines now acting as reference points for success.
3. Identify one way to turn associates into brand promoters: Be it by implementing a “Name Game” of your own or some other method, determine one way you can engage, empower and excite employees/teams so that they in turn will promote your brand. This is the first and perhaps most critical step to turning guests into brand promoters of their own.
Have any questions? Let me know in the comments section below or reach out!