Delivering the Best Customer Experience
Good communication in the hospitality industry is essential for long-term success. Hospitality success requires consistently excelling at customer service and exceeding guests’ expectations. You must create experiences to make guests feel welcome and special.
Customer service is critical to hospitality success because delivering the best customer experience creates loyal customers who will repeatedly return. Happy guests also provide positive personal recommendations or submit positive reviews online, helping drive growth and profits. According to a study by American Express, 42% of consumers said that a recommendation from a family member or friend would influence their purchase more than a sale or promotion.
The opposite is even more true: unhappy customers can destroy a business. These statistics from Inc. demonstrate the impact of unhappy customers:
- When customers are unhappy, there’s a 91% chance they won’t do business with a company again.
- Dissatisfied customers typically tell 9 to 15 other people about their experience; some tell 20 or more.
In fact, only 4% of unhappy customers will complain to you directly about a bad experience. Instead of providing feedback to you, unhappy customers are more likely to complain to friends, family, and the internet. Negative customer experiences lead to bad online reviews, and bad reviews hurt your business. You need a lot of 5-star reviews to erase the damage of just a few 1-star reviews.
Why Hospitality Teams Need to Communicate Effectively
Good Communication Drives Good Customer Service
Providing the best guest experience requires good communication. You can’t provide top-notch customer service unless you listen to your customers to understand exactly what they are telling you. You need to clearly and effectively share that information with relevant members of your team and collaborate to deliver the ultimate guest experience.
Resolving an issue quickly and effectively can delight customers. For example, suppose a hotel guest loses her wallet. She immediately calls the front desk to ask if anyone found it. The front desk manager must listen to the guest with empathy and concern while gathering relevant details: where has the guest been, what does the wallet look like, when does she think she misplaced it? If the front desk manager is distracted or acts indifferent to the guest’s concerns, the opportunity to delight the customer is lost whether the wallet is found or not.
Having shown the appropriate level of concern, the manager must now communicate with her team. This is where a unified communications platform (UC) helps. Unified communications platforms enable teams to communicate with each other without requiring everyone to use the same type of communication device. With Orion’s UC platform, team members can seamlessly communicate across VoIP desk phones, radios, and Orion’s PTT 2.0 solution.
If the guest arrived early in the morning, played a round of golf in the morning, enjoyed a massage at the spa, and had dinner in the hotel restaurant, the wallet could be in several locations. With a unified communication platform like Orion’s Push-to-Talk, the manager can communicate with all the relevant departments at once with the click of a button.
She quickly explains the missing wallet to the valet, golf course, spa, and restaurant. Everyone in these locations is alerted and can quickly have someone check the golf carts, spa rooms, restaurant, and surrounding areas to locate the missing wallet.
If the hotel team does not communicate effectively with each other, the process is completely different. The manager may attempt to reach the spa, but she can’t reach anyone because no one is monitoring the phone, and they are out of range as they move around assisting guests. She tries the golf course, but they communicate using radios and reception is bad on the course. She attempts to contact the valet, but they are busy in the garage where there is no reception, so she can’t reach them either.
In this scenario, the manager struggles to find anyone to help while the guest nervously waits for an answer. In an effort to help the guest, the manager may even leave the front desk to try to find someone to help. If she had a way to reach everyone at once across the entire property, the guest would have her wallet, and peace of mind, much sooner.
Good Communication Improves Productivity
Good communication also improves the hospitality team’s productivity. In the example above, when the manager could not communicate immediately with the spa, valet, and golf course, she had to spend time calling them over and over again. She neglected other tasks while she tried to find someone to help her.
Unified communications enables the manager to reach every team no matter where they are located and what communication device they are using. There are no “dead zones” and everyone is connected even if they are walking around helping guests.
In this example, team members may have additional information to help with the search. If the spa responds to the initial call saying that they remember the guest using the wallet at the spa, the golf course and valet do not need to search for it because the guest had the wallet later in the day. They have already narrowed the search.
If the manager could only reach the golf course without a way to contact the other teams, the golf course crew would begin searching golf carts or even go out on the course to check for the wallet. They may continue to search long after the wallet is found, simply because no one can reach them as they search the golf course.
If the manager leaves the front desk to search for the wallet herself, she spends time running around the property. While she searches, she postpones helping other guests, so overall customer service may decline even if the wallet is found.
Good Communication Ensures Guest and Employee Safety
Good communication is never more important than in an emergency. If there is an incident, your team needs to calmly and effectively communicate among themselves and implement the appropriate emergency response and protocols. The team must share information with guests to help them understand the situation and what steps they need to follow to stay safe.
Automated processes enable the fastest emergency response. If you have a communication platform like Orion’s, one voice command “Fire” can automatically trigger the correct process: notify the fire department, activate alarms, alert all employees both onsite and in remote locations, unlock all doors, secure elevators, initiate building checks, etc.
With one voice command, the process is started, leaving your team free to ensure the safety and security of all employees and guests.
Why Is Communication in the Hospitality Industry So Difficult?
Hospitality Teams Work in Dynamic, Fast-paced Environments
With hospitality teams spread across the property, communication is challenging. Employees are constantly moving around, whether it’s housekeeping going from room to room in a hotel, valets driving back and forth to a garage, or grounds keeping ensuring a golf course is well-manicured. Reception on a golf course may be spotty, so employees miss calls or cannot understand garbled conversations. Parking structures are often underground, where reception is difficult or impossible with traditional communications.
Team Leaders Often Have No Idea Where Employees Are
Because frontline workers are always on the go, finding them when a problem arises isn’t easy. If there is a spill in a conference room, and no one can find or contact housekeeping because they communicate with radios and are out of range, the spill continues to inconvenience guests or interfere with programs until someone can be reached.
Language Barriers Create Challenges
Not all staff speak the same language, which can make managing tasks difficult. Some staff members may misunderstand instructions, creating delays and more work for the team. If an unusual event occurs, describing the event and steps required to resolve it may be difficult, resulting in delays and disrupting guests’ experiences. If staff members are frustrated and confused, their frustration may come across to your guests, impacting customer service.
Additionally, you may have a hard time keeping good staff members if you can’t communicate with them effectively. They may get frustrated and leave. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual average employee turnover rate across all industries is between 12-15%, yet the hotel and motel industry reports an employee turnover rate of 73.8%.
With high levels of turnover, you are constantly interviewing and onboarding new candidates. The best candidates may not speak the same language, so you limit your options if you only interview candidates who speak your preferred language.
You also need to onboard staff as quickly as possible to minimize disruptions to guests. Teaching new skills can be difficult if you don’t speak the same language, making the training process slower and lowering team productivity.
Building Effective Hospitality with Push-to-Talk (PTT) 2.0
Push-to-talk communication has been around for decades in the form of radios with a button you push to talk and release to listen. These radios have significant disadvantages. Radios have limited range, do not work well in locations like basements and garages, can’t transmit photos and supporting files, and can’t tell you where members of your team are currently located.
Push-to-Talk 2.0 brings push-to-talk communication to the 21st century, delivering instant high-quality communication powered by Voice AI Bots and platform integrations. With PTT 2.0, you can:
- Communicate over any network and any distance without installing special network equipment or applying for licenses.
- Enable always-on Voice AI Bots to listen and respond to commands, events, and actions.
- Utilize voice-activated checklists, standard operating procedures (SOPs), and compliance forms.
- Voice-automate routine work like daily check-ins or hourly status checks to make frontline teams more productive.
- Digitize emergency alerts, location breach notifications, and lone worker monitoring to keep employees safer.
- Share all relevant information, including texts, photos, videos, PDFs, etc.
- Use mapping and real-time location to know where your team is at all times, enabling faster deployment of resources to resolve issues.
- Ensure guests and employees clearly understand each other with bi-directional language translation and transcription.
- React faster in critical situations with real-time communication that reaches everyone on the platform at once, no matter where they are and what they are doing.
- Store all messages for safety, compliance, and incident reporting.
Good communication in the hospitality industry is essential for long-term success. Orion’s PTT 2.0 helps hospitality organizations like The Boca Raton deliver exceptional experiences to their guests by providing the instant ability to cater to the whims, preferences, special requests, and concerns of guests. All staff can easily collaborate to deliver the ultimate customer experience.