It’s a phrase that can strike fear into the hearts of business owners, employees and clients alike. But it doesn’t have to! The idea of customer service can change depending on what industry you are in, how large your company is, and even where you are located. In the past three years, our team has undergone a major philosophy shift on customer service. Our guest satisfaction scores have surged and we have increased our scores on sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp. We have seen increases in bookings as a direct result of our positive reviews, which makes everyone happy in the long run. What did we change? How did the scores climb so rapidly? And what can you do with a limited budget to improve?
1. Smile more.
We have received comments about our staff being too friendly, I am not kidding you. Now, I won’t give away the names of the Grinch-wannabes who have shared that ‘concern’ with our team, but I will tell you this: erring on the side of being too friendly is better than coming across as cold and robotic. But be genuine about it. No one likes talking to a “mask” instead of a person. Any disingenuous exchange can leave a customer with a bad taste in their mouth – you might as well have scowled at them and told them that they’re dog was ugly. Get your staff to invest in their guests; get them to buy-in to the idea that their smile can change a person’s day and impact an entire family. They need to fully understand that they have the power to make or break another person’s experience, and to quote Spider-Man, “with great power comes great responsibility.”
Listen to what your customers are saying. Whether it is guests at a hotel, patrons at a restaurant or shoppers in your store; their feedback will enable your company to be the best version of itself. If 10 people say that the soap in the bathroom is terrible, then change the brand you use. If every week you get a comment that Cindy in housekeeping is rude, then maybe someone should go talk to Cindy and find out what’s going on. Online reviews, comment cards, and surveys are all wonderful tools to improve your customer service but only if you use them.
3. Pay attention to the little things.
If you are paying attention to details and enhancing small parts of a customer’s experience, then the overall feeling of their business with you will be impacted. A mole hill can become a mountain if there are enough moles. Simple phrases like “please” and “thank you” go a long way. You can verbally recognize a customer’s loyalty by saying something like “Wow, a Platinum Rewards member? You must know hotels better than I do!” In one second, you have validated the customer and complimented them all without giving them a discount or spending money on a gift (although those are nice things too, don’t get me wrong). You can even give them a handwritten note thanking them for their business; once upon a time I used to be a waitress in Times Square, and let me tell you, adding a small handwritten note to the receipts at my tables almost guaranteed me a good tip.
These three small adjustments can make a world of a difference to your customers, and in turn, to your company. But be warned, this is only the beginning of your journey. Once your customer service eyes have been opened you can never shut them and go back to the bliss of not caring. Once you start listening to your customer feedback, you’ll get hooked (I’m telling you, it’s like service-industry crack). Take the time to celebrate with your team when customers recognize the positive factors of your company. Gather your information and analyze for emerging trends and repeat issues to resolve, but make sure not to overreact to and overhaul your practices because of one awry comment. Because once your employees become invested in the happiness of each person they interact with, you’ll find some Grinch who will tell you that Cindy’s smile was too bright and that she needs to stop using whitening toothpaste.