by Alan Campbell, Featured Contributor
ACCORDING to travelers who rate hospitality brands in order of classification, it comes down to the best out of 100 score. Every year around this time publications publish their findings. It has been established that the average score is around 77 points. The good thing about this is that low scores produce business for those companies that provide customer service training. Some of the larger brands have their own in house trainers, but judging from the numbers it would be hard to tell.
The thing about service training is that it is expensive, and must be done at certain intervals, not once and forget it. It is a constant ongoing procedure. It seems that the chains just don’t get it. If they did the scores would be higher. So, what are they doing? Why is customer service satisfaction such a hard item to accomplish?
Let’s take a peek at an imaginary hotel shall we? The curb appeal should be clean neat and bright. Entrance, sparkling clean well maintained. Reception area cheerful, warm, should be screaming welcome to my home. Guest service agents should be glad that customers are in their hotel.. Use their name, smile engage provide, no anticipate what they will need. Be genuine, sincere, and most of all talk to them.
The room should be clean, well maintained, no torn edges, chipped paint, stain on ceiling, dirty corners in bathrooms. Room should have good lighting and ample electrical connections for today’s equipment, and by the way outlets that you don’t have to look for under the bed.
Guest should receive a phone call from desk, as to the satisfaction of the room and any other concern that may arise. Staff personnel should be aware of all activities that are advertised in the hotel, restaurant, lounge, entertainment and what hours that they open. Now we could go on, but this is how your property should be. Well according to the scores, sad to say they are not.
In the luxury division: JW Marriott did above the average, while Grand Hyatt came in second (77).
Upper-Upscale: Hilton Embassy Suites scored above average, with Sheraton a distant second (76)
Upscale: Hyatt Place scored well, while Hilton Garden inn scored (77)
Mid-Scale Hampton Inn & Suites did well, however with their guarantee of guest satisfaction they should be way higher. Ramada a distant second. (69)
Economy: Days Inn average, while Super 8 scored a (68)
I am only pointing out those scores that are lower than the average of 77. First let me tell you that no score should be lower than 77. At least we should be at the national average. The property can be old, bit there is no excuse for, poor maintenance, dirty or dilapidating exterior. Yet in my travels I find just that, chain hotels that do not look inviting at all. Let me tell you about the Best Western Inn in Douglas AZ. The only one, and it was brand new. Arrival: now try to picture this, upon entering the lobby, not a soul anywhere to be seen. I could have been a burglar, they would never know. Had to wring bell on desk, service agent came out from the back, and the only thing he asked was “do you have a reservation” there was no greeting, no how are you, how was your trip, or any other kind of salutation. I received the keys and the agent went back to the TV set.
I was only there for the one night, I say the room was clean and well appointed. The breakfast was very good. Upon check out, again no one at the desk. I had to ring the bell. The clerk (female) comes out from the back, now let me tell you what I was confronted with. This clerk had on a uniform that was totally wrinkled, it looked like she slept in it. Her hair was all over her face. Her words “checking out” that was it, turned and went back to sleep I would say. There was no have a nice trip back, how was your stay, did you enjoy our breakfast. I wrote a letter to the GM, never did get a response, I also copied BW customer service department, again no response. Now you understand why low scores are given by travelers.
I spend a lot of time traveling and setting up training sites for hotels and providing the latest training technics that are available. But, if they are not followed up by the management it becomes a waste of good money. Owners only see when it does not work, so they are very reluctant to spend money on proper training.
Training is expensive, and in order for it to work it must be repeated several times during the year. New people come on board, and it becomes essential that it continues. Case in point Starbucks is rated at a whopping 96% in customer satisfaction. They spend a lot of time, and money on training their baristas. First of all they can tell you what every item on their menu is and what is in it, and make it. They talk to the customers, they know the name of those that are in the store on a daily basis. You want a 90% customer service score train your people like Starbucks. That’s my take on the Travelers score card.