Successful service recovery is key to customer retention

In the business of sales, it is more than just “Get out and bring ’em in.” We have to be sure that those we “get in” come back for another visit. We will all agree that the repeat guest costs us less than getting a new guest. Do they all come back? Of cou

In the business of sales, it is more than just “Get out and bring ’em in.” We have to be sure that those we “get in” come back for another visit. We will all agree that the repeat guest costs us less than getting a new guest. Do they all come back? Of course, not! But, we want to be sure that we do not lose them because of a “service recovery” situation. That is, did something happen during the visit that made the guest unhappy? And, what we did to resolve it?

All hotels have seen these comments: “My air conditioner was not cooling; I contacted the front desk but nothing was done." Or, “My room did not have any towels; I called the desk and was told I would have to come to the desk to pick up towels." It is a failure to not respond and recover.

These issues were brought up by Ray Hobbs, VP of operations for Kelco Hotels, who said, “Guests who share their concerns with us provide us with an opportunity to respond to and resolve situations. When we do this right, we can retain our guest loyalty. When we do this wrong, our guests will take their business to our competitors. And, worse yet, disgruntled guests will air their negative impressions in one of the on-line review sites.”

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Kelley Slay, president of Kelco Hotels, made everyone (both GMs & DOSs) aware of Kelco’s goal to be recognized by their guests for outstanding service. When he realized this goal was not being achieved, they found the disconnect to be linked to the responses of their associates. Kelco has now changed the line-up of their training programs to provide each associate a service recovery guideline at the very beginning of training. Hobbs remarked that with many hotels seeing high turnover among staff, there needs to be a continual training effort before they start interacting with guests. This training instills confidence and empowers them to respond properly, quickly resolve or offer solutions to guest issues and follow through to initiate actions needed from others.

Sales staffers at all hotels work hard to bring in business, and rely on property staff to provide good service. However, those in sales are often also responsible for handling guest issues that may arise.  

For a free copy of Ray Hobbs’ “Step by Step Service Recovery Process,” email [email protected]

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