Turning a bad situation around is an excellent opportunity to create a loyal customer.
By Scott Merrick, Training Account Manager, Signature Worldwide
How does working in the hotel industry differ from any other service industry? Sounds like a loaded question, but the similarities are a much more compelling story than the differences. Because hotel guests stay overnight, the customer experience at a hotel may be longer in duration than many other service businesses whose customer experience may be brief in comparison. But a great customer experience is rarely defined by duration.
No doubt, customers in general are in a greater hurry today than 20 years ago. And perhaps this hurry-up world has contributed to some unhappy customer experiences lately. However, regardless of the industry, business, or duration of a customer touch point, at the core of an unhappy customer experience story is likely one of the following 7 Deadly Sins:
An unwillingness to change. Times have changed, people’s expectations have changed, and the way people do business has changed. The Internet has made information and shopping easier and faster. Whether you want to or not, if you don’t understand your customers’ online expectations and experience with your business, you are losing business to competitors that do.
Bad attitudes that reflect in poor behavior. Do you have employees with a bad attitude? How does this attitude reflect in their behavior toward or with your customers? Have you talked to them and found they changed for a couple weeks, then went back to their bad attitude? Your customers do not need to suffer the behavior of your actively unhappy customer service staff. Get to the source of the problem and resolve the issue(s). Moreover, if your employee are unable to consistently and naturally reflect the behavior you expect, get rid of them! Most customers won’t give you a second chance. Even worse, when they leave they are going to talk—to friends, family, business associates, online, and more.
Not providing a timely solution. Customers are going to have complaints. It’s how you take care of the issue that matters. Don’t make your customers ask for a solution. And don’t make them wait for the solution. Does your staff listen to what the customer has to say and then reassure the customer they will do everything in their power to solve the situation? Do they own the problem, even if the resolution is out of their hands? Try to offer a solution while the customer is still on the line or face to face. A quick and timely resolution is more memorable to your customers than the original problem is. Offer a solution before the customer requests one, and make it happen—quickly!
Not having passion for what you do. Hire for great customer service talent and personality for front-line customer service roles. Granted, technology has added the need for computer literacy and computer skills. But hire for talent, train for skills. Hire for the passion you want to see toward your customers. Hearing someone tell you in a job interview that they LOVE meeting and working with people is music to your ears, right? But saying it does not mean they can or will do what they say. Ask them to tell you how they have handled a real customer situation. If they can’t tell you, they haven’t done it. And if what they describe isn’t what you want to see, decide if they are trainable. Passion for providing great customer service is different than passion for wanting great customer service.
Forgetting that the customer is always right. Sometimes it is hard to remember that “the customer is always right,” especially if you find yourself in a situation where the customer is screaming in your face. But remember that the customer made the choice to do business with you and now, for whatever reason, they are not happy. Keep in mind the customer is not mad at you, but the situation. You just happen to be the one they are going to in hopes a solution will be found. They want you to be their problem solver, so take the challenge and be ready to embrace the complaining customer with your amazing customer service skills!
Ignoring social media outlets. Ignorance is not an excuse when it comes to social media. Your customers are using social media Websites whether you like it or not, and whether you understand it or not. They are using social media to make buying decisions based on the comments your guests/customers post. Your potential new customers are listening to your former and existing customers. They also are watching to see how you respond to your loyal customers, as well as your unhappy customers. If you are not responding, this is no different to them than remaining silent over the phone or face to face. And the audience to all this is far greater. Get actively engaged. Your customers see this as a reflection of how much you will appreciate and care about them. And if you don’t care, you can be sure you have a competitor that does.
Getting the customer so upset that they never return. When a customer has a problem, how often do we make it worse? One of the most common mistakes made is offering a solution without really understanding the problem. How do we know if the solution we have offered is what the customer really wants? If we offer a solution without verifying our solution is what the customer wants or the way they want it, chances are one of the other six deadly sins has occurred. Listen to your customers and make sure they leave happy. If not, you have done all that work for nothing and missed the opportunity to create a loyal, repeat customer.
Mistakes happen and problems occur, but don’t be afraid of customer complaints. Turning a bad situation around is an excellent opportunity to create a loyal customer. It takes responsibility and a sense of caring to make it happen, but this is what distinguishes the great customer service providers from the rest. Tackle the seven deadly sins of what not to do at your place of business, and see if it gets to the core of what might be making your customers unhappy.
Scott Merrick is a training account manager for Signature Worldwide, a Dublin, OH-based company offering sales and customer service training, marketing, and mystery shopping services for a variety of service-based industries. For more information, call 800.398.0518 or visit www.signatureworldwide.com. You also can connect with Signature on Twitter @SignatureWorld and on Facebook.