Ms. Nedry

Guest Service / Customer Experience Mgmt

Lip Service Versus Guest Service

By Roberta Nedry, President, Hospitality Excellence, Inc.

Consider the following episode which took place at a "full -service" spa. On the agenda: a manicure and a pedicure. When I called to schedule this pampering experience, I was told to plan for two and a half hours. Perfect. I had a three hour window and my toes already were wiggling with excitement. I asked the receptionist to confirm that treatments for me and a companion would begin exactly at noon and be completed by 2:30 pm as we had another engagement. She reassured me they would.

We arrived at noon, our feet already undressed. The receptionist noted our excitement, remembered our time window and let us know our therapists would be with us shortly (always be wary when anyone uses this nebulous phrase!). At 12:25, our therapists came out to greet us. My anxiety was slight at this point. I selfishly wanted all two and a half hours to pamper my feet and hands and knew we had just lost 25 minutes.

Nonetheless, we were led to a private room, seated in comfy armchairs, received herbal tea and water-but then had to wait some more. Our therapists still had to assemble lotions and potions to get the job done and at 12:45, the real treatments began. With increasing anxiety, we began to resent paying full price for the 45 minutes that did not involve our feet or hands.

Although flustered, our therapists reassured us we would be out by 2:30. At 2:55, with tissue still between our toes and polish still wet, we had to leave. Although everyone involved knew of our time restraints, our bill was not ready and had to be redone twice before we could finally leave.

The next day, the spa called us to tell us we owed an additional amount due to a billing error. Amazed, I returned the call and spoke to the spa manager. I relayed how upsetting our experience had been, how the time commitment had been broken during each step, how the service was not even close to satisfactory much less the expectations we were given and how surprising it was to learn that we had to pay even more because of a billing error.

Aghast with my comments, she told me that, in 20 years, no one had ever complained about service at this spa. Although that may be true (though I doubt it), I was not looking for a history lesson and certainly was not feeling any better about my first (and final) experience at this spa.

Once we got through all the excuses and defenses, she realized she had an unhappy customer and tried to make amends. She now had a huge opportunity to turn a negative into a positive. Her commitment to me was that she wanted us to come back and have a positive experience.

She promised that her assistant would call me the next morning to set everything straight. Several months later, I am still waiting for the call.

This entire experience can be summed up in two words-lip service. At each point of contact, promises were made and broken. Service was not delivered. It merely was implied to get us in or off the phone.

What message do most organizations communicate to their employees when management does not illustrate the exact service they want delivered? Why did the spa manager pass me on to her assistant instead of resolving my concerns and setting up a solution immediately? What model should employees follow--lip service or guest service?

Obviously, the employees in this spa follow their leader and leave the guest experience to the guest. If a business makes a commitment to guests and charges money, it has the responsibility to follow through. If it wants guests to return, that business must create a reason. Service expectations must be set up properly and realistically. In each step of this experience, each expectation was set up to fail. A solid foundation for delivering real service was not in place.

When dissatisfaction occurs, that business should address the concerns head-on and work with the guest for a mutually happy solution. This often creates even greater opportunities to secure a guest for life.

Being defensive or challenging a guest's reaction only makes matters worse. Each guest experience is personal and real for that individual guest. Guests want to be happy and they want their needs addressed. Sometimes a simple acknowledgement and apology will do. Making amends, where reasonable, is even better. Going above and beyond is superb.

These simple concepts apply to very link in the personnel chain, from top to bottom, back to front. A broken promise is twice as bad as the promise that never was made. Guests remember how they are treated, and they love to tell others. Repeat and referral business affect the bottom line and those who do not manage the guest experience guided by these facts probably will not be around for long.

As a guest, I have not returned to this spa and would never recommend it to others. In fact, I'd say my lips are sealed.

Roberta Nedry is President and Founder of Hospitality Excellence, Inc., Leaders in Guest Experience Management. Ms. Nedry has developed a unique 3D Service® methodology to take guest service to the next level. The Hospitality Excellence team focuses on guest, customer and client service, concierge concepts and service excellence training for management and frontline employees in all industries. To learn more about Hospitality Excellence online and onsite programs, Experience Evaluation and Design and their proprietary 3D Service® techniques - a New Dimension in Service Excellence, visit www.hospitalityexcellence.com Ms. Nedry can be contacted at 877-436-3307 or roberta@hospitalityexcellence.com Extended Bio...

HotelExecutive.com retains the copyright to the articles published in the Hotel Business Review. Articles cannot be republished without prior written consent by HotelExecutive.com.

Receive our daily newsletter with the latest breaking news and hotel management best practices.
Hotel Business Review on Facebook
RESOURCE CENTER - SEARCH ARCHIVES
General Search:

APRIL: Cultivating Guest Satisfaction and Retention

Michael McCall

Customer loyalty programs have become a 6 billion dollar a year industry, and yet for many firms they remain an expensive customer benefit that is unconnected to the firms overall marketing strategy. In this brief report a number of mechanisms are proposed that may help firms to retain customers and increase overall satisfaction. READ MORE

Dawn  Wells

Juggling the needs of guests, the personalities of associates and the demands of owners makes the daily life of a general manager anything but routine. As a multi-tasking GM, where do you start? Award-winning GM Dawn Wells, a seasoned professional in Charleston, South Carolina, shares her the insights and experiences working with associates that have resulted in top guest satisfaction scores at her hotel. She notes that showing the staff that you care is an important first step. Giving encouragement and recognition to her team coupled with building and maintaining relationships combined to make a difference with her associates, guests and ultimately the hotel’s bottom line. READ MORE

Sapna Mehta  Mangal

Counterfactual thinking is an overlooked cognitive notion that can adversely or favorably sway a hotel guest’s satisfaction and retention level. Research has shown that counterfactual thinking can magnify customer satisfaction or customer dissatisfaction levels. Counterfactual thinking is a conduit to a range of human emotions like feeling of regret, anger, and relief. These emotions in the context of hotels can be linked to a guest’s post purchase service evaluation. Examples of counterfactual thinking, alongside with guest satisfaction, and retention levels is also laid out. The write up helps to bridge these conceptual gaps, and other related issues to establish pivotal connections among these otherwise unrelated concepts. READ MORE

Tom Conran

A hotel is more than a building. It’s a place. It should not be viewed as a commodity but rather a distinct buying proposition with meaningful benefits. By creating and delivering the right kinds of experiences it can accomplish that mission and be transformed from merely a physical space to a dynamic destination and, as a result, become the preferred spot for guests and travelers. The key to doing this is to develop an “experience framework” that details the proposed positioning of the hotel. Once established, the various contributors and property attributes should individually and collectively align and reinforce the experience proposed. READ MORE

Coming Up In The May Online Hotel Business Review


Feature Focus
Hotel Sustainable Development: Integrating Practices for the Environment and the Bottom Line
The term “sustainable development” was first coined in 1987. In a report entitled, “Our Common Future,” the Brundtland Commission defined sustainable development as follows: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This definition immediately caught on. In the business world, it is sometimes referred to as a triple bottom line – capturing the concept that investments are profitable, good for people and protective of the environment. Within the hotel industry, companies have taken an active role in committing themselves to addressing climate change and sustainability. Hotel operations have realized that environmentally sound practices not only help the environment, but can lead to cost reductions, business expansion, and profit growth as consumers increasingly seek environmentally sustainable products and services. In a recent survey by Deloitte, it was noted that 95% of respondents believe that the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives. Additionally, 38% of respondents said they made efforts to identify “green” hotels before traveling, and 40% said they would be willing to pay a premium for the privilege. These results suggest that consumers want and expect sustainability in their travel plans. In response to these trends, many hotel companies and on-line travel agencies have even begun offering their consumers an opportunity to purchase carbon offsets to reduce the environmental impact of their trips. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document how some leading hotels are integrating sustainability practices into their hotels and how their operations, consumers and the environment are profiting from them.