Guest Satisfaction Scores are becoming increasingly important for Hoteliers. Guests are starting to realize the importance of them as well, and are making their booking decisions based on what other guests have said about their experience. It is the staff’s responsibility to make each guest feel welcome and important, if they don’t, it can be very detrimental to your scores and result in missing out on revenue.
One of KPartners’ General Managers, Clinton Kinder, has it all figured out. His Guest Service Scores are well above the brand’s standard and the reviews him and his team receive almost always mention how wonderful the staff was. We decided to interview him to find out exactly what he does to get these high scores.
What are your best practices to maintain such a high level of Guest Service Scores in each department?
“One of the easiest and most successful ways, is to treat each guest as a friend and a visitor. Make sure they feel welcome. Make sure they genuinely believe you want them to stay. The robotic monotone voices don’t work. The last thing someone wants when checking in, is someone who is just going through the motions. Make it a point to ask the guest checking in why they are visiting, and then have a conversation about that. Is the guest visiting their child at WVU? Ask what year they’re in, ask what major they’re pursuing. Above all else make sure it’s a light, fun conversation and make sure the guest knows you genuinely care about what brings them to your city.”
What steps do you take when you see a department dropping in scores?
“The first step is to identify the problem or problems behind the drop in scores. The easiest and most efficient way to do that is to speak with your guests. Breakfast scores are dropping? Come in early, have a cup of coffee and chat with your guests. Ask them how they like the food, ask them if everything tastes good. If three guests tell you the bacon is a little under cooked, it’s probably under cooked. This will create a unique opportunity to show your guests you go the extra mile, and that you are listening to them. Go cook those guests some bacon immediately and bring it out to them. Assure them that upon their next stay, the bacon will be crispy, just the way they like it.”
Do you use long term employees to develop new hires? Why or why not?
“Long term employees are the backbone of the hotel. They are the reason the hotel does so well. Early in my career, I heard the statement, “Take care of your employees, and they will take care of you.” I’ve tried to live by that philosophy ever since. The trust given to long term employees to train new hires empowers them to feel attached to the hotel.”
How do you handle an unhappy guest?
“Above all else, make sure they feel heard. Nothing is worse than when a customer is trying to explain a problem, and before the situation is even described, they’re offered a discount. This creates 2 problems. First, it makes the customer feel as though you don’t care about their problem. It makes them feel marginalized, as though you just want to get them out of your face. Second, it could easily offend them. Maybe they’re not even looking for a discount, maybe they just want to bring a problem to your attention. This is why it is crucial to listen to the problem, acknowledge that it exists, and offer a solution, or some type of action that begins the process of fixing that problem.”
How do you handle negative guest comments on social sites?
“At this point in time, social media sites are more important than ever. Sites like TripAdvisor can make or break a hotel. Although negative guest comments can’t be avoided altogether, they can be managed. Don’t ignore the problem in your response, own up to it. Offer explanations as to how you are fixing the problem, and assure the guest that these problems no longer exist.”
What do you train your staff to do when a guest is unhappy?
Listen, listen, listen. Nothing is worse for a guest than having their problems fall on deaf ears. Listen, acknowledge the problem, and fix it immediately if at all possible.
What do you do when you find an employee has not put the guest first?
“I ask why the customer was not put first. I listen to their concerns, and then remind them about the importance of making sure every customer feels satisfied. Sometimes, it’s as easy as reminding your employees that the entire reason we have a job, is because of the customers.”
Have you noticed a trend in your guest service scores varying based on occupancy?
“Possibly a smaller one, leaning towards higher scores with less occupancy, but any month can be a bad month and any month can be a good month. That’s why it’s so important to stay cognizant about your scores and where you are for the month.”
How do you celebrate and motivate your team to care about the guest above anything else?
“3 things. First, during the stand up meeting every morning we go over where we are for the month, opportunities for improvement, and celebrate success stories. Second, we set goals for every month. If we reach those goals, we have a party. Third, I developed an incentive program where whoever gets mentioned the most in positive guest reviews for the month, gets a pre-paid gift card. At first it was a bit difficult, but with some perseverance, I suddenly had my employees telling me about great guest interactions during our stand up meetings.”
What is your newest goal you have set for your team and what is your current score?
“For this month I set a goal of 9.0. I always look at what score we got last year, and make sure we set a goal to beat it this year. Currently we are at a 9.4.”
A big “Thank You” to Clinton and his staff for making the guests their priority each and everyday and for instilling this idea in all of his staff. If your hotel is not doing these things, take some time to reconsider your priorities. Happy Guests=Higher Revenue.