Hotel Customer Loyalty: Easy Exceptions +
by Kate Nasser |
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.
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™
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.