Travel sites estimate that there’s anywhere from 187,000 to as many as 400,000 hotels around the world. Yet, only 154 of those are awarded five stars by Forbes Travel Guide. For one of those hotels, the key to delivering superior service and building brand loyalty is communication. These same simple techniques can be adapted for any business with the help of a high quality collaboration solution.
In his Forbes article, contributor Carmine Gallo presents seven communication techniques used by The Sanctuary Hotel in South Carolina’s Kiawah Island. In and of themselves, none of the techniques are revolutionary. But applying them effectively and consistently can mutually benefit both customer and service provider in any services-related business. Service providers build brand loyalty and customers take away positive memories of their meaningful interactions.
Tip #1: Personalize your customer interactions.
“We believe everything is in a name,” says Teresa Keller, The Sanctuary’s training director. Not only do hotel employees refer to guests by name, they take special care to get the proper pronunciation as well as the names of any children in the party. This level of personalization conveys to the customer that they aren’t just any guest, a commodity, in room 528. It also reminds the hotel employees of this, too.
A high quality voice and video solution can help employees engage with customers on a more personal level, and the ability to put a name to a face or pronounce a customer’s name correctly, especially in cases when you are engaging with customers remotely, can help employees remember customers’ names more easily.
Tip #2: Apply what you learn about your customers.
The hotel refers to them as ‘golden nuggets’ – clues about a guest that can be used by hotel employees to help create a memorable customer experience. For example, an employee might see a guest carrying a tennis racket or note that a guest is from Northern California’s wine country. This information can be used to direct the guest to the tennis courts or offer a specific blend of wine in the hotel restaurant.
To make this concept work, employees have to pay attention and apply what they learn. A video call makes this easy to do. Employees can get clues about their customers during a video call based on pictures or other objects in the customer’s environment. This can be particularly effective if the environment is reflective of the product or service discussed. For example, maybe the customer is calling about maintenance services needed for a high-end sewing machine from their textile manufacturing floor. The employee can ask about any projects in the works or simply comment on the workspace.
Companies or services-related businesses (such as hotels) with multiple locations can learn from each location’s unique customer service experiences via regularly scheduled video conferences. Once a week or every month the CS teams can meet virtually to share their “golden nugget” experiences and lessons learned. This will help them learn to recognize those opportunities, as well as be able to replicate a consistent brand experience at all other hotels managed by the same company.
Tip #3: Train consistently and give employees feedback.
Employee training and improvement should be continual efforts, but to be effective these efforts must be accompanied by feedback. With video collaboration technology, employee training programs can easily be broken down into shorter segments, recorded and archived for employees to watch if they were unable to attend the live training or to play back for a refresher course.
Video calls can also be recorded and viewed at a later time. Managers and employees can watch the videos together to identify opportunities for improvement as well as successes. That feedback is more valuable when it’s given to staff face-to-face.
Tip #4: Reinforce your brand’s values every day.
“Most brands give employees guidelines or a handbook and might commit to once-a- month or once-a-quarter reviews/training,” writes Gallo. “But many leaders neglect the crucial element of reinforcing the brands’ values and expectations each and every day, if only for 5 to 10 minutes.”
Taking five minutes to review the company’s mission and values reminds employees why their role is important and helps set the stage for the day, ensuring that everyone is focusing on what matters. Doing so face-to-face over a video call helps build a sense of camaraderie, even over multiple locations. Everyone feels like they are included and a valuable member of the team.
Taken together, these simple communication techniques can help employees engage more personally with customers in a way that aligns with your mission. You’ll also improve customer service engagements and brand loyalty to more superior, five-star levels.