Can You Define Customer Service?

Can you define customer service? Phil Benson goes in search of the meaning of excellent customer service.

(Note: if you think you can define excellent customer service, please share your thoughts in our Q&A)

Providing excellent customer service is what makes and strengthens customer relationships, which is an incredibly valuable asset for any hotel or business to have. Repeat custom is what hotelier’s should strive for from their clients, so building associations and nurturing links is key, with the level of customer service received being pivotal.

The hospitality marketplace remains as competitive as ever so establishing important interaction with customers through high-quality customer service is as important as ever and improving on this vital, to remain one step ahead of your rivals.

In her recent column for hotel-industry.co.uk, Caroline Cooper wrote:

“it’s no longer enough just to deliver good or even great customer service; it needs to be something outstanding and something that will wow your guests if you want to talk about it and give them a reason to return.”

“The service you provide is an ideal opportunity to create a key differentiator for your hotel. Getting your customer service right can do far more for attracting and retaining your custom than any amount of marketing or refurbishing. But it won’t happen by magic!”

Defining Customer Service

To be able to improve the levels of customer service, it is important that hoteliers define what it actually means and stands for. This is likely to be different from business to business as expectation levels change depending on the market that the hotel is geared. In a recent interview with hotel-industry.co.uk, Mario Dolcezza (author of the book ‘How to Be Great at Customer Service’) admits it is hard to put a definition beside customer service:

“This is actually quite a tricky question. Customer service is the degree of assistance provided by the business in order to facilitate a purchase by the customer. More importantly the customers experience is directly related to the effort put into customer service and can be positive, indifferent or negative.”

Taking a booking for a bedroom or being approached to use a conference room and having one free does not constitute good customer service. Developing an engagement with that customer is essential for building long-term relationships and for strengthening the customer service experience.

First Impressions Count

The customer service experience starts with a first impression. Whether that is using a booking system to make the reservation or actually arriving at the hotel for the first time, a good initial impression of the business will influence the relationship with the customer thereafter. Long-term business can be won or lost in the first interactions between hotel and customer, so ensuring everything is in place and functioning at all times is vitally important.

All staff members must be trained properly too and is another essential factor in providing good customer service. Not putting the customer first can be the start of a string of errors that will leave guests disgruntled and can easily effect the reputation of a business.

Dolcezza believes this kind of mistake is particularly prevalent in the hospitality industry, saying, “Staff members think that washing glasses, filling fridges or polishing mirrors takes precedence over serving the customer with the end result; a rubbish experience that does nothing to engender customer loyalty.”

Customer service is an intrinsically important aspect for any hotel and should be quite easy to achieve if you want to grow a business. Giving your customers more of what they like and less of what they do not, sounds simple enough and can be achieved by asking them through customer feedback. If this is done correctly, it will show to the customer that you value their business, attract loyalty from them and build profitability through repeat custom and referrals.

(Note: if you think you can define excellent customer service, please share your thoughts in our Q&A)

By Phil Benson

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