What does it really mean to have good customer service skills?
Good customer service is all about forming a relationship with your guests. While there are lists of specific traits and practices that can enhance your individual skills, the end goal is the same: bringing customers back and ensuring they are so impressed with your service that they give you good reviews on social platforms and tell their friends, family and colleagues about their wonderful experience.
Customer loyalty is the bedrock of a successful company. According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, repeat customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first stay with you. Acquiring new customers can be up to 25 times more expensive that retaining existing guests (Harvard Business Review). Keeping the right customers coming back again and again is valuable and superior customer service makes that possible.
Of course, the flip side is also true. When someone has a bad experience, they are much more likely to post an unfavorable rating and give you bad press to all who will listen. Unfortunately, the vast majority of customers don’t bother to complain to you (or your manager) directly, they just never come back and they’ll tell other people about the poor treatment they received.
So, while it’s important to hone your interpersonal skills, such as being patient, positive and quick-thinking, what does that really mean to the customer? Ultimately, the 'Golden Rule' is no longer enough: you want the customer to not just be “treated the way you’d like to be treated, but the way he/she wants to be treated.” That means you need to go the extra mile to find out what the guest values and what they want and need.
How can you exceed their expectations? Never be just about "what’s the standard policy,” but what the customer will really appreciate. Offer something they didn’t expect – and it doesn’t have to be something big. It could be a complimentary drink or dessert, unexpected tickets or an impossible-to-get dinner reservation.
Building Good Relationships through Customer Service
Although it can cost a bit of time and money, the very best customer service leads to a level of satisfaction that generates high levels of positive word-of-mouth. That kind of good service can lead to increased revenues and sustained customer loyalty.
Providing the best customer services means:
- Knowing what your customers think is great customer service
- Finding out what their expectations are
- Following up on any feedback you get (good and bad)
- Ensuring your staff has the authority to solve problems quickly
- Constantly assessing and evaluating the level of customer service you deliver
- Are you asking the right questions?
- Are you adapting your approach to different customers’ needs?
- Are you being helpful regardless of any potential profit to the hotel/restaurant?
- Are you reducing the effort a guest has to make to get what they need/want?
To really ensure that the customer service you’re providing is meaningful, you need to demonstrate an understanding of how to foster trust and loyalty beyond the current transaction with a guest. Then you’ll be well on your way to meeting the ultimate customer service goal of bringing your guests back time and again. That’s what really great customer service means.