Lessons from the Hotel Industry for CX Practitioners
The success or failure of a top hotel is directly correlated with the customer experience that it delivers. If a 5-star hotel cannot deliver an exceptional customer experience, it is detrimental to their business. If, however, it continues to consistently maintain top standards, often a prerequisite in this competitive industry, their reputation is enhanced and with all other things being equal they should be rewarded with a high REVPAR – REVenue Per Available Room is a critical metric in the hotel industry.
A reputation for unparalleled customer service often comes with ridiculously high customer expectations. In this post, we will discuss some of the essential strategies that are employed in the hotel industry to deliver winning Customer Experiences. These strategies can be applied in almost any industry, and while they are more relevant for some industries than others, we recommend that you keep them in mind as you set out your customer experience strategy.
At top hotels, employees are told to put the customer first no matter what. Every employee serves as a customer experience expert and is given the initiative to go above and beyond to give guests the best experience possible. This can be done through actions that make the customer feel like choosing this hotel over a competitor was the right decision. For example, if a concierge or even bellhop overhears a guest come to the realisation that she has forgotten a toothbrush, they can leave their post to run and fetch one for her. Or upon realising that guests are celebrating an anniversary or birthday, sending balloons and champagne to the room before the guests even notice. These special gestures based on employee initiative never go unnoticed by customers and it becomes a reminder to them to return and to recommend a really great hotel to their friends and family.
Any business can make customers feel like they made the right decision to pick you due to the kindness, generosity or efficiency of the employees they are dealing with. This only works though if employees aren’t made to feel like they will get in trouble for not following protocol, they will go out of their way to help customers and deliver the best service possible. If they are intimidated by their managers or feel they need to cut corners the customer will ultimately be the one who suffers and they may not remember you fondly enough to come back or recommend your business to others.
The best hotels do an excellent job of making individual customers feel really special. It can be easy for hotels, as special occasions are great opportunities to personalize a guest’s experience, but there are plenty of ways for any business to customise a customer experience every day and there is a myriad of ways hotels are successful at this. For example, if a parent is travelling with a child, leaving a teddy-bear in the room with a welcome note as a gift to make the child feel like a special guest. Or if a guest has stayed with the hotel before, remembering that they like the room a certain temperature and presetting it for them or that they are vegan and leaving vegan chocolate on their pillow rather than regular chocolate. These types of acts show customers that you value their business.
Prioritising personalisation within your business can range from customised marketing materials to in-store experiences that are reflective of individual needs. Identify patterns in customers’ past experiences with your business to learn what they desire. For most companies, this can mean investing in technology that captures the customer’s voice and their journey.
Attention to Detail
Hotels are generally designed to make amenities and services readily available and easy to find. No guest is impressed when it takes them 15 minutes to connect to the WiFi or if they have a coffee pot in their room but no milk or sugar. In top hotels, there isn’t a single detail that hasn’t been thoughtfully decided upon which led to its implementation. From the brightness of the lights in the bathroom to the weight of the curtains to the placement of the towel rails, no detail is too small to be contemplated and considered with great care.
Examine who is purchasing and using your goods or services and if the details in your business serve them to the best of your ability. If there is a product that elderly people tend to buy frequently, place it on a shelf where they can easily see and reach it. Is there a place for people to place their umbrellas safely when they enter one of your stores? Can the layout accommodate a pram? Do the IVR option in your contact centre follow a logic that would be easy for everyone to follow? Take great care in making decisions in everything from logistics to design to colour palettes. Details that may seem tiny can ultimately have an important effect on how customer experiences and interactions.