When an international hotel chain developed a service recovery program, one thing was overlooked: the customer. Through the Livework lifecycle approach, we pointed to the ignored stages in the customer journey, both before and after the actual stay. Looking at both the customer and guest mind-sets, Livework revealed opportunities for problem prevention instead of service recovery.
Service recovery programs have been around for a long time in the hospitality industry. These programs are created to streamline the activity of solving problems when a guest is dissatisfied. Obviously, the guest will feel taken care of when a problem is sorted out, but wouldn’t it be better to prevent certain problems from happening in the first place?
It’s not only about the time spent in the hotel
The customer and guest can be two different people, and have different needs in different parts of the service. Consider the scenario of a secretary booking a hotel for her boss. In this case the secretary is the customer. She is involved in the booking and payment process, while her boss enters the hotel as a guest.
Livework piloted new service approaches around the booking process, providing both the customer and guest with better information long before arrival and the day of arrival. The work also explored ways to connect and be relevant to customers after the stay in the hotel.
Measuring quality before, during and after the stay
The hospitality sector spends money and energy on measuring service quality. However, most of the KPI’s are related to the physical building and guests in the hotel: room quality, noise, front desk, facilities etc.
These points are only a small part of your stay – locating the hotel, getting to your meeting on time, advice on when to leave for the airport are all essentials that are almost never measured – but mean a lot for the guest experience.
"My secretary booked the hotel, I assumed she gave the correct contact details"
Treat your guest, manage your customer
By acknowledging the difference of what’s important for the customer and the guest, many problems and challenges during the booking and check-in phase can be prevented.
After a long flight, the guest will be annoyed not only with the hotel, but also with whoever made the arrangements, if something is amiss with the booking. This means that catering to the needs of both roles will increase the likelihood of the next booking being within your hotel chain – not the competitors.
Good customer service prevents service failures
Running a successful service recovery programme involves a lot more than solving a problem in the hotel. The root cause of a problem can be in a different stage of the customer journey. Identifying the difference between customer stages and guest stages enables hotel groups to increasingly prevent problems, improve customer satisfaction and achieve higher customer loyalty.