- What is 5 star hospitality service?
- Offer supreme service to show your professionalism
- Show genuine interest to understand your customer better
- Exceed expectations to add value to your business
- How to build service excellence and consistency
What is 5 star hospitality service?
If there is one industry where customer service is of utmost importance, it is the hospitality industry. You may have heard of the phrase ‘5 star hospitality service’; but what makes a hospitality destination 5 star? This may surprise you, but there are actually no international standards. One rating which is internationally known and respected is the rating outlined in the annual Forbes Travel Guide. Anonymous and independent inspectors travel around the world reviewing luxury hospitality destinations; testing them rigorously against 900 standards. The final score is based 75% on the hotel’s service and 25% on the quality of its facilities.
Last February Forbes Travel Guide announced their Star Award Winners and 265 hotels received their prestigious Forbes Travel Guide 5 Star. What makes these hotels the elite of the elite? As quoted by Forbes Travel Guide CEO Filip Boyen, “Each deserving recipient excels at enriching people’s lives through the power of exceptional service.” Three specific criteria which measured exceptional service were ‘supreme service,’ ‘genuine interest’ and ‘exceeding expectations.’ Let’s take a closer look at these three.
Offer supreme service
“When asking consumers what impacts their level of trust with a company, offering excellent customer service is ranked number one.” — Zendesk 2019
Offering supreme service gives your customers the feeling you are highly professional and give attention to detail. You must possess great product knowledge and communication skills. For the former this means being able to inform, advise, or take action competently — be that on the spot or within a respectable time frame. For the latter it involves a positive attitude which combines great listening skills, as well as speaking to your customers in a pleasant and certainly respectful manner at all times. Your goal is to connect and engage with your customers and avoid situations that may lead to complaints and confrontations. However, when confronted with a complaint, supreme customer service will usually be able to turn this negative into a positive; therefore, preserving the relationship you have. When you notice that your guest has shoes that need polishing, leaving them a note offering to do so, illustrates a level of offering supreme service.
Show genuine interest
“Feeling unappreciated is the #1 reason customers switch away from products and services.” — Newvoicemedia.com
Human beings are social creatures; as such we are often deeply touched when someone shows genuine interest. The best way to do so is by showing empathy. Empathy is being able to place yourself in someone else’s position, and therefore have a better understanding of their needs and wants. Essentially, when you combine this with great communication skills, it allows you to optimally serve your customers. “What makes your customers buy your products and/or services, what challenges do they encounter, what recommendations do they have?” Showing genuine interest ultimately makes your customers feel heard and appreciated, which is a major factor of retention and referrals. Furthermore, their feedback provides valuable information to exceed their expectations and improve your products and services (which is imperative for any business, but that’s for another topic). An example would be to remember the preferred room temperature of a returning guest, and setting the ac to this prior to their next arrival.
“54% of customers have higher expectations for customer service today compared to one year ago. This percentage jumps to 66% for consumers aged from 18 to 34 years old.” — Microsoft 2019
Customers are becoming more demanding, so the best way to differentiate yourself is by exceeding their expectations. This of course is easier said than done. First of all you cannot exceed expectations without successfully offering supreme service and showing genuine interest. Then, using all the information you already know about your customers, you can provide products and services that will positively surprise them. These deeply personalized gestures are usually complimentary. However, the memorable emotional experience you created greatly outweighs any investments. A fantastic example is when a hotel surprises a returning guests traveling by themselves with a handwritten card, chocolates, flowers and champagne to congratulate their wedding anniversary.
Build service excellence and consistency
“Increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits anywhere from 25% to 95%.” — Bain & Company
“Investing in new customers is between 5 and 25 times more expensive than retaining existing ones.” — Invesp 2019
Implementing 5 star hospitality service requires planning, commitment, and consistency. For the first two, a clear vision and standards must be set and communicated to every individual in your team. The process of owning these standards requires time, whilst providing product knowledge, excellence service and empowerment training are key (to name a few). Finally, consistency is threefold; firstly, monitor your team, secondly analyze any feedback and then use the former and latter to improve your standards and performances. The third step is ongoing personalized training for your team; this is often lacking or not done at all by businesses.
My previous experiences with regard to improving customer service include service excellence design, evaluating service standards and delivering service excellence training. Most recently I delivered a service excellence and brand values training for Melia Hotels & Resorts amongst 1,000 of its staff (general manager to rank and file) across five hotels in Southeast Asia. The main objective was to introduce new brand values, which all focus on creating a sense of belonging and memorable experiences for both guests and staff. Spread over two half day hands-on workshops, participants were encouraged to think creatively and team activities were implemented to discuss and practice excellent service techniques.
Are you in need of designing a service excellence culture or looking for ways to boost your customer service? Book a complimentary 30 minutes chat with me by emailing [email protected], where I can offer you insights and advice.
About the author
Oky Ceelen is a founding partner of OML Consulting. He is an experienced trainer and certified Transformative Coach with a hospitality and vocational education background. His passion is to guide individuals and teams in their learning and development.