Chapter 9. Customer Service
- Customer lifetime value (CLV): a view of customer relationships that looks at the long-term cycle of customer interactions, rather than at single transactions
- Customer orientation: positioning a business or organization so that customer interests and value are the highest priority
- Customer relationship management (CRM): a strategy used by businesses to select customers and to maintain relationships with them to increase their lifetime value to the business
- Loyalty programs: programs that identify and build databases of frequent customers to promote directly to them, and to reward and provide special services for those frequent customers
- Moment of truth: when a customer’s interaction with a front-line employee makes a critical difference in his or her perception of that company or destination
- Service recovery: what happens when a customer service professional takes actions that result in the customer being satisfied after a service failure has occurred
- SERVQUAL: a technique developed to measure service quality
- Total quality (TQ): integrating all employees, from management to front-level, in a process of continuous learning, which leads toward increasing customer satisfaction
- Total quality management (TQM): a process of setting service goals as a team
- Complete the checklist for Service Professionals (SuperHost). On a scale of 1–5 (with 5 being highest), rate yourself on the following customer service skills. You can use a recent customer interaction or one from a previous service role. Add any other criteria that relate specifically to your position.
Qualities of a Remarkable Service Professional Score Treat all colleagues with courtesy and respect. Treat all customers with courtesy and respect. Create a positive first impression for all customers. Communicate clearly when sharing directions or information. Be aware of the impact of voice and body language during communications. Use open-ended questions to clarify. Listen in an active and engaged way. Listen without judgment to gain understanding. Demonstrate empathy to customers. Take initiative to deal with challenging situations. Solve problems effectively. Speak highly of the organization’s products and services on a consistent basis. Provide positive recognition to customers. Provide constructive feedback using assertive language. Look for ways to improve as a customer service professional on an ongoing basis. Look for ways to provide remarkable, out-of-the-ordinary service on an ongoing basis.
- What are three key benefits of customer service training for employers? What are three benefits to employees?
- Identify and discuss three ways how tourism and hospitality businesses can maintain a long-term relationship with their guests.
- What kinds of training and credentials are available to tourism and hospitality professionals? What are some of the benefits to both employees and employers of these credentials?
- Take a moment to list all of the loyalty programs you belong to (using cards from your wallet or apps on your phone). Next to each, write the following: the reason you joined the program, the benefits you receive from it, and your estimate of the benefits the issuing company receives.
- Name five instances in which a guest might interact with each of the following types of tourism and hospitality business:
- A tour operator
- A hotel
- An airline
- A ski resort
- Choose a tourism business, hotel, or restaurant that has received excellent reviews, and determine which comments can be linked either directly or indirectly to the quality and level of employee training and customer service. Find at least one example of each of the dimensions of RATER.
Case Study: Accent Inn and WorldHost Training Service (now rebranded as SuperHost)
Accent Inns is an award-winning, family-owned and operated company based in Victoria with hotels located in Victoria, Richmond, Burnaby, Kelowna, and Kamloops. All Accent Inns have developed a reputation for their quality, reasonable rates, and excellent service. Guest and staff satisfaction are key components of their service culture to treat every guest like family. The team at Accent Inns put great effort into making every customer interaction memorable.
In 2013, Accent Inns committed to incorporating customer service training at each property to be delivered by Accent Inns assistant general managers (AGMs). Core outcomes were to raise the level of service, empower front-line staff with the tools to exceed guest expectations, and strengthen the facilitation and coaching skills of the AGM team. Building on the business’s existing training culture and strong corporate values, WorldHost Training Services created a customized half-day program for the AGMs to use in their hotels.
To prepare, the AGMs completed an experiential 1.5-day train-the-trainer session. An emphasis on coaching support and a team facilitation approach led many to gain confidence in this new role. One trainer excelled and was selected as the full-time trainer for Accent Inns. Working with the human resources team from Accent Inns, WorldHost also completed a needs analysis at each property to ensure staff had input into future training. Training continues to be developed and delivered internally.
According to Kathy Gaudry, human resources manager for Accent Inns, “The WorldHost team was fantastic; they worked hard to ensure the training was completely relevant to our employees and our culture. The results were phenomenal — our junior leaders have acquired the skills they need to deliver training locally to their own teams — we couldn’t be happier.”
Visit the Accent Inns website and review the information to answer the following questions about their customer service culture:
- What kind of experience do you expect by reading the website’s information and looking at the pictures? What kind of service do you feel the inns provide?
- Visit TripAdvisor and look up any of the Accent Inn locations.
- Select a review for families. What does the reviewer say about the property? How does Accent Inns respond?
- Select a review for solo travellers. What does the reviewer say about the property? How does Accent Inns respond?
- Are there any negative reviews? If so, how does Accent Inns respond?
- Now that you’ve reviewed the case study, the website, and TripAdvisor for Accent Inns, use the RATER dimensions to provide examples of how Accent Inns is using the SERVQUAL model.
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