The hotel industry is notorious for guest complaints. If you’ve ever worked retail, you know the saying “the customer is always right.” This applies to the hotel industry as well since the customer is buying a room for a night or more. How customer complaints are handled is often key to keeping that customer and gaining more.
I recently stayed at The Damai Resort in Orlando FL and overheard a very upset guest’s reaction to the pool being closed for routine clean up. While I was also looking forward to the pool that day, I understand that routine maintenance must happen. But what I was most impressed with was how the staff member handled this upset guest and seemed to turn his attitude around by the end of the conversation. It seemed that by simply listening to the guy and giving value to his concerns and offering fun Orlando alternatives, the guest left happy and content.
Here’s what I learned:
THE EASY FIX
A guest calling to request an extra blanket or towel isn’t complaining, yet. But that request can turn into a complaint if not handled properly. At current hotel prices per night, a customer expects his request to be met quickly. Maybe the call was placed and the customer left the room for a few hours. That blanket should be on the bed waiting for the customer upon return. There should never be a second call for a simple request.
LISTEN AND L.E.A.R.N.
The word LEARN is an acronym for how best to handle a customer with a complaint. First, you need to L or listen. This is absolutely the most important because it’s only by listening that you can assess exactly how best to handle the situation. Allow the guest to explain the problem.
E or empathize is next. Be empathetic to the situation by recognizing the inconvenience or disruption. Don’t point fingers or try to explain why something isn’t your fault. It may be that the customer is upset about something else and the complaint is a way of blowing off steam. Regardless of reason, convey sorrow that the customer is upset.
A is for act. After listening and understanding, you must act. If the room is dirty or the bill is wrong, see to it immediately or as soon as humanly possible. Wasting time or putting off repairing the situation will only make it worse.
R means a report must be made. In order to keep the same thing from happening, report the problem to the supervisor so it can be addressed in a staff meeting. Sometimes, discussing a complaint can lead to innovative solutions and fewer repeats of the issue.
N is for notify. Notify the customer that the problem has been handled. If the customer is already aware that the problem is handled, simply check with the customer later. You can do this on the same day or the next, but be sure to find out if everything else is ok or if there is anything else that needs to be done. A little extra attention after a complaint goes a long way toward making the customer feel he matters.
The overall attitude of the staff has a lot to do with customer satisfaction. If guests hear staff gathered in groups complaining, it lowers the satisfaction level. When bringing a problem to the attention of staff, a guest doesn’t want to hear the staff complain or explain why something didn’t happen correctly. After all, it’s the guest paying for the room and amenities.
Bottom line is that there are several ways to turn around a disgruntled guest. Many times it ends up being something small that could have and should have been fixed and doesn’t. If you can manage to turn around a frustrated customer, you’ll have a repeat customer for sure and may even get new business from them as well. Whether it’s the fault of the staff or the hotel or not, the end goal should still be a happy guest. That is the goal of customer satisfaction after all.
This post was contributed by Carla C. Burton. Carla is a self-employed Mummy blogger with a BBA in Business Administration from Bond University. Although a Gold Coast native, Carla moved to Melbourne in 2008 to further her writing career and raise her children. Carla has become a top contributor to many blogs worldwide and thoroughly enjoys the freedom that self-employment has provided her. To find out more about Carla or to follow her other posts, follow her on Twitter @CarlaCBurton.