September 15, 2020
Guest Service: Choice of Service is the Currency of our Time
Jos Schaap | ROOMDEX
Since the early days of hospitality, the industry has operated on the principle of customer service before everything else. By its very definition, hospitality is the relationship between a guest and a host. For as long as hotels have been in business, hoteliers have believed that these long-standing guest service values could only be delivered and received as a face-to-face interaction. From the warm welcome on arrival, the personal service provided by the concierge, check-in received by a Front Desk Agent – each direct customer touch point achieves a unique and fulfilling guest experience. Any other method deviates from the industry’s core principles of high-touch hospitality, right?
The Evolution of Your Guest
Well, that traditional picture of the hotel experience is actually just one scenario. Times have changed. Whether traveling for work or leisure, family or wellness, guest service preferences and expectations vary. While in-person engagement will never cease to be an integral part of the hospitality experience, today’s customer lives in a world where choice rules. Customers expect to have multiple options available to them. Convenience and time are now the valuable commodities on our lives. The interaction is not as important as the outcome.
For example, the majority of us are well accustomed to using self-service alternatives for routine tasks such as banking, supermarket check-out, etc. So much so, that it’s predicted by Gartner that end of 2020, customers will manage 87% of their customer relationships without interacting with humans. Why? Because most of us would simply rather get what we want faster. The Harvard Business Review notes that “The number one factor in delivering a great customer experience is not delighting customers, but reducing their efforts.”
When it comes to Guest Service, convenience begets more convenience
Naturally, technology has played a significant role in enabling an increasingly convenient lifestyle. “As task after task becomes easier, the growing expectation of convenience exerts a pressure on everything else to be easy or get left behind,” says Tim Wu, of the New York Times. This means your average hotel guest arrives with expectations about checking in/out, room access, billing etc. While some prefer the traditional, one-on-one service interactions, most will want control and favor a more low-touch, digital-forward experience. As hoteliers, delivering guest service now means offering guests a choice of service to ensure you are responding to individual guests’ needs and expectations.
The Empowered Hotel
Not convinced? Consider that 80% of businesses believe they provide excellent customer service, but only 8% of customers agree. There is clearly a significant disconnect between brands and their customers – and a missed opportunity to establish long-term loyalty. The hotel industry is no exception. The Cornell University Center for Hospitality Research found guests wanted greater mobile access of a wide variety of interactions, such as room readiness notifications, amenity requests and check in/out.
Through task automation and self-service options such as check-in/out kiosks, mobile room keys and more, you give guests more control. For staff, self-service mobile technology options are all about removing repetitive administrative tasks from their job descriptions. Empowered staff then focus on interactions that matter most, creating a more memorable experience and happier customers.
Self-Service Opens Doors to Opportunities
Self-service not only offers convenience and improved workflows but also brings exciting revenue potential. Upselling has always been spotty and all too often hotel frontline staff miss out on sales opportunities. Unlike human agents, self-service mobile platforms never forget to upsell. Their wealth of guest-specific data that makes the process of promoting and targeting upsell options automatic. Not only do guests become aware of purchase options without sales pressure, but they enjoy an increased level of personalization. Happy, satisfied guests tend to spend more money and be more loyal. Simply put, guest service automation translates to revenue.
So, in conclusion, don’t get nostalgic for a picture of a service model from the past. Enhancing the traditional hotel model with mobile self-service solutions to will maximize revenue opportunities, increase guest satisfaction and foster loyalty.