Hotel Customer Loyalty: Easy Exceptions +

Recent studies show that loyal customers are the ones that find your service easy.  For hotels and the hospitality and travel industry, this has morphed into frequent guest profiles on room type, or rental car preference, or aisle/window choice on an airplane.

They have created a standard process on certain service items to earn customer loyalty. It’s just a beginning.

Hotels must go far beyond that and rewards programs to earn the customer loyalty especially of frequent business travelers. They must:

Make it easy for customers to get exceptions to the standard process and sustain those exceptions throughout each stay.

Make exceptions easy to get and remember them!

Most hotels don’t sustain customers’ exceptions. The hotels are driven by standard processes and handle each exception as a transaction. You can make a special request and hopefully they deliver on that exception. Yet if it’s something you want every day during the stay or for every stay, you must request it each time.

A recent example: Sheraton hotel provided two bath towels, two hand towels, and two wash cloths in the room. I asked for two additional bath towels. They delivered. The next day housekeeping gave me — you guessed it — just two bath towels, two hand towels etc… Each day I had to request the same exception to their standard process.

Delivering great customer service when requested may get you high customer satisfaction scores. Delivering pro-active customer service may win you great acclaim.

But to earn customer loyalty, deliver easy exceptions and sustain those exceptions. Why? In this example, it’s just one easy phone call each day for some towels right? Easy maybe. Loyalty building it isn’t.

Customer loyalty is earned from easy exceptions that you remember to deliver each time. When you sustain the customers’ exceptions, you are telling them you remember their needs. Being remembered and cared for creates psychological comfort. That earns you the customers’ trust and thus their loyalty.

Picture yourself as a customer. Think about the diner waitress who remembers exactly how you want your eggs. The dry cleaner who knows your name and remembers your preferences. The consultant who already knows your hot buttons and key concerns. The dentist who knows your pain tolerance and how to ease it. The florist who remembers what flowers you send your mother even when you don’t!

This type of customer service becomes more than service. To the customer, you become an essential part of their easy life. If a hotel makes my life easy, I don’t even consider a different hotel for my next trip. You prevent the question mark from forming in my mind. Your hotel becomes my sanctuary when you sustain my exceptions to your standard processes.

This is a challenge for large scale operations yet it is feasible with modern technology. How about easy online portals for all customers to send in their exception requests in advance — without having to call? Or even when they are on site? How about special request kiosks on each floor? Perhaps hand held devices on housekeeping carts that give the staff just in time info on what each customer wants?

Capitalize on the fact that most people don’t like change. They like comfortable easy situations that they can rely on especially when far from home. Following your standard process is a change. You earn their loyalty by making exceptions easy to get and remembering to deliver them each time.

Will it be your brand? If yes, let me know and I will be a regular at your hotel!

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™

©2011 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish this post, please first email for terms of use. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers actionable customer service insights through workshops, keynotes, consultations, and DVDs. Now in her 21st year in business, her stellar results are well known in the customer service industry. See this site for more information.

6 Responses to “Hotel Customer Loyalty: Easy Exceptions +”

  1. Kate, this was good. This should be obvious, and yet I think we can always improve in this area. I will share this post.

  2. Kate, great post. Here’s some food for thought . . .

    Expected service involves a level of service that is expected and taken for granted. For example, no client will ever get excited if you show up on time, if a project is produced within budget, or if billing is accurate. But if you’re late for a meeting, go over budget, or produce billing errors, you can be sure that they will get irritated.

    On the other hand, there are conditions in every service encounter that, when present, can build high levels of customer satisfaction. However, if these conditions are not present, they will not dissatisfy the customer. For example, if you brought in your car to be serviced and the mechanic not only fixed your problem, but found something else wrong and fixed it at no charge, you would be pleased. But if they didn’t address the problem, you would never know that it existed. I think this is the area that your blog post addresses. It is this area where you build customer loyalty. Well said Kate! (I hope all of the hotels are listening)

  3. Kate,

    Found this article, and your site on twitter. Thanks @tedcoine.
    Really excellent article. I’ve written about good customer service being when you meet the customers expectations every-single-time. But your article puts another spin on how to go beyond that, without lame statements like ‘exceeding expectations’.

    Your article shows that it’s more complicated, and yet simpler than that.

    You’ve inspired my next blog post. In fact I’ve been thinking about it all weekend. Will let you know when it’s done (with attribution for the inspiration).

    Thank you.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      As I read your comment Steven, I felt you had the same sense of it as I did. It is complex yet simple. The customer wants it to be simple, comfortable — and that requires remembering to deliver what they asked for last time. Customer create a roadmap for us of what is “outstanding” in their eyes. Then it’s just about the doing.

      I truly look forward to reading your post and am grateful for the attribution.
      Thanks and regards,

KateNasser on Facebook KateNasser Blog KateNasser on Twitter KateNasser on LinkedIn KateNasser on Pinterest