Nearly every research report in recent memory comes back with the same bottom line: guests’ satisfaction — and therefore your bottom line — hinges on their customer service experience. The warmth and conscientiousness of your staff is the most important factor to producing repeat business. Ninety-one percent of service-related hotel reviews includes comments related specifically to the staff, with “friendliness” and “attentiveness” being the two most frequently mentioned themes. J.D. Power and Associates’ most recent North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study found that not only is overall satisfaction significantly higher among guests with very positive ratings for hotel staff, but that those guests also have a much higher advocacy and loyalty rating as well. And twenty-five percent of guests who stated they would return to a property cited a positive service experience as a motivating factor.

Of course, this is not a revolutionary concept — service has always been important in the hospitality industry. What has changed, though, are some of the ways that hoteliers can assess, train and motivate staff to provide it. Social media has opened up a world of direct, unbiased customer feedback that gives managers and executives an unprecedented window into how guests perceive their experiences and how they discuss those experiences with their peers. The trick is in learning how to use that wealth of information to benefit the guest, the staff, and ultimately the business.

 

Drawing on social media feedback can provide leadership with an easy way to identify standout staff performances and then leverage that information to improve service among all team members. Some hotels give employees get a small cash bonus when they are named in a positive review, with some employees earning more than $100 each month in additional wages. Haddock says the staff is motivated not only by the recognition from their superiors and peers, but with financial compensation that rewards great work.

I like the “Social Hall of Fame” for employees that receive the most positive mentions on social media each month, which instills a further sense of accountability and pride in team members. The winners are recognized in front of the entire staff, and the general manager uses the information to grant coveted shift selections to top performing employees, providing a tangible benefit for those delivering a superior service experience to guests.

Many hotels are often so focused on efficiency that it can be easy to forget how important is it to connect with guests on a personal level. Coach ones teams on managing customers using the acronym G-L-S-R: Greet, Listen, Empathize and Be Sensitive, and React. Following this simple mantra can help diffuse nearly any situation, so that even if a guest is initially dissatisfied, the lasting effect of the positive service experience fosters a deeper brand loyalty in the long run.

When negative trends in staff performance do arise, however, it’s important to quickly identify and resolve them. Online reviews have become an influential resource for people planning hotel stays — studies show that four out of five people will reverse their decision to book based on bad social media reviews — so if a negative theme around service begins to emerge, hotel managers should use the feedback to determine the root cause and work with the staff to resolve it.

Online reviews make this information available practically in real time, which is critical for staying on top of any developing issues and for engaging with employees or customers before the opportunity to do so has passed. “When communicating negative feedback to employees, it’s important to remember that guests don’t lie, but they can embellish,” As Managers we should first use a negative review as a jumping off point to find out exactly what happened and then respond promptly. Never respond to negativity with more negativity — always be positive with the guest and use the experience as a training opportunity for the staff.

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