Customer service is always a tricky affair. It is especially so when it comes to hospitality and luxury hotels. Finicky travelers expect home away from home, and a good front desk will have to comply with an endless barrage of arbitrary and capricious whims.
But it is precisely under those demanding circumstances where we can see how a luxury hotel can provide excellent customer service.
Here’s an inside look at how any business can apply these tips to provide good customer service that comes with inherent rewards.
1. Try personalization through social media
Personalization is one of the most important things a business can do to make customers feel welcome. You want to treat every customer like they are special. Forward-thinking hotels have started to use social media as a way to do this and more by finding out what travelers want and customizing accommodations to their tastes.
For example, the Ritz-Carlton Resorts in Naples asked potential customers in advance how they liked their coffee. Customers who responded and booked a stay would be pleased to find that the Ritz remembered their response and prepared coffee just as they liked, the minute they showed up.
Not every business is capable of doing something as extravagant as that, but even small things can go a long ways towards ensuring personalization. Any business can use social media to find out information about top customers, add those insights to their CRM software and go the extra mile.
Furthermore, a strong social media presence gives customers an outlet and can encourage dialogue, ensuring a company knows (and can meet) their needs.
2. Empower employees to go above and beyond
Hotels have to deal with all sorts of emergencies every single day. A family has left something important behind, someone has ripped a shoe or broken a suitcase, and so on. And yet with those tales of woes comes tales of employees rising to the occasion to find innovative ways to treat customers well.
For example, take this story from the Huffington Post. When a family returned after a stay at a Ritz-Carlton resort in Florida, they discovered their son had lost a stuffed animal. When the hotel found the animal, they helped the father craft an elaborate story of how the animal had stayed at the resort for a little while longer, complete with photographs and a binder detailing the animal’s experiences.
On the surface, the hotel had no reason to go to such extents. But they showed devotion to go above and beyond and thus won a loyal, repeat customer who told others about this great experience.
Similarly, a hotel chain in Costa Rica goes above and beyond and is known to help expatriates relocating to the country to find a long-term property.
How can your businesses go above and beyond? The best way to start is to think how you can empower customers. Your employees are the front lines so ensure they are trained to give every customer a great experience. Develop customer satisfaction goals, remain open to new ideas and give employees the room (without bottlenecks) to make customers happy.
3. Hire the best talent from the start
You can have the best strategy to ensure that employees are empowered and provide the best customer service, but that means nothing if your employees don’t execute.
Empowerment can be a double-edged sword.
While it can provide innovative and good employees the room to find new and creative solutions, it can also provide lazy employees the room to slack off and provide subpar customer service.
So, if you’re going to empower employees, you’ll need to hire the best talent. Simon Cooper, a former president with Ritz-Carlton until 2010, shared the importance of hiring the best employees in a Forbes interview.
Cooper noted that the Ritz-Carlton only hired 2 percent of the people who applied for jobs, as they were determined to ensure that only the best people worked for the luxury hotel firm.
Your business may not quite have the same luxury in finding and hiring new talent, but ensure to thoroughly vet potential employees. One bad apple in a small business is much more damaging than that same apple in a large corporation.
Talk to their references and make sure they have a strong track record. A good reference and interview is far more important than anything on their resume.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Simon Crompton is a freelance journalist and entrepreneur running several online businesses including his marketing firm, Threecolors.blue. Simon spends the majority of his time blogging about business startups and consulting on web development. He has launched multiple online companies. He is also a dedicated follower of fashion, and has written for the Financial Times and GQ. Connect with @PermanentStle on Twitter.