And How Are You Enjoying Your Stay? 6 Steps To Service Recovery

For hotels, success comes hand in hand with your ability to provide first rate service, but what happens when something goes wrong? Paul Russell of Luxury Academy London talks service recovery.

Hotels possess unrivalled opportunities for the creation of competitive advantage through outstanding customer experience, but conversely as they are produced by people it is almost guaranteed that, on occasion, service failures will happen. It may be that these service failures originate in the tangible elements of a guests’ stay, a dissatisfaction with their room or with the culinary experience for example, or it may be that service failures are caused by the gap between expected and what guests perceive that they received in terms of intangible service, in the welcome from the front desk or in the response from the concierge. Overall, guests are becoming less tolerant of service failures, and wherever the failure occurred, it is down to your staff to turn things around. If they do it well, you can triple customer intentions to return. Here are our 6 steps to effective service recovery.

1. The zone: A customer’s zone of tolerance is the area between their ideal and adequate service, and whilst all customers will have a zone of tolerance (some smaller than others) it is important not to take advantage of this as over time this tolerance will erode. Additionally, staff who are able to identify guests that are still within the zone but nonetheless not as happy as they could be, can initiative service recovery before it reaches crises level.

2. A planned system: Service recovery should be a planned, controlled aspect of your service delivery system rather than a haphazard add on. Staff need to be trained to not only identify areas for possible service recovery but to implement and be confident in its delivery.

3. Know your ‘fail’ areas: In any hotel there tend to be similar potential ‘fail’ areas like at check in, or when a meal has just been served for example. These are the crucial interactions between hotel and guest, looking for feedback and reactions at these points helps providers to establish customer satisfaction.

4. Reliability: A key ingredient for happy guests is reliability in delivering the service, and when this fails, this means demonstrating reliability in putting things right. Whether you’re offering a refund, a return or a repeat of the service, ensure that you do what you have said you will do, when you said you would do it.

5. Look at involvement: When you’re delivering high involvement services like spa breaks or a luxurious leisure weekends then service recovery (or the ability to provide it) will be even more vital. Expectations will be higher for the service, the investment is greater and the stakes for all involved rocket. Remember though that involvement varies person to person, and what is a fairly routine service encounter for one person can be unusual and highly involved for another.

6. Look at intangible compensation too: In service recovery, the tangible elements of a refund or a complimentary return visit are important but so too are the intangible or psychological elements as expressed through a staff member’s attention to the issue, alongside their genuine apology for the service dip.

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