What is the Modern Face of Service?

This morning I was at The Independent Hotel Show speaking on the topic of “What is the Modern Face of Service?”

The panel was led by Alan Williams from Servicebrand Global and the other members of the panel with me were Andrew Pike, General Manager at The Milestone Hotel, Anne Blackburn from Sidona Group and Simon Pratt from Portico.

Speaker Panel Independent Hotel Show

The themes we explored were:

1) “Many organisations focus on service excellence but do so in isolation without making the style of service relevant to the organisation’s values or brand essence?” Do speakers agree with this and, if so, can they cite any examples of how this can have a positive or negative impact?

This is a topic I wrote about in Hotel Industry Magazine in my article on “What is your Service Style?” and reiterated this during our discussion.

2) Measurement – how do you strike the right balance between capturing and analysing data based on rational assessment versus understanding customer emotions.

The viewpoint I expressed was that one of the key ways to measure what is happening in your establishment is to listen to your customers – by this I mean your suppliers, your staff and your guests. There is no point in just measuring your guest feedback as if this is not 100% then it suggests there is a fault in your operations further down the line – by which point is it is normally too late, as you have a customer concern to address or your guest has already left.It is great to capture guest feedback although this should be done throughout the customer journey and not just at the end. This will then give you the opportunity to turn around a concern and rectify this before your guest leaves. A lot of measurement from the guest is going to be subjective and emotive which will be based on their perceptions and expectations.

You therefore need to have a mix of rational assessment and subjective feedback. The subjective feedback would come from yourself as the owner/ manager, your staff and your guests. The reason this is going to be subjective is because you are involved with the business – what you want to gain from this feedback is the customer experience. So a good hotelier will have experienced the customer journey in their own property, and they would have also let their staff experience this too. This is always a good starting point although as you are involved in the business it is very difficult to be completely objective about this. The rational assessment would come from a mystery auditor or a consultant who would be professional enough to give objective feedback on what areas of your product and service are good and which areas could be improved upon. Now the consultant will not just look at the customer experience but will look deeper than this and give assistance on how to measure the effectiveness of the internal procedures. This is normally the crux of the problem which many hoteliers do not see at first.

Each panelist answered the question in turn and then the audience were invited to comment and ask questions on the theme. It was a very engaging session and the 30 minutes allocated for it flew by!

I explore these themes in more detail my book “Star Quality Hospitality – The Key to a Successful Hospitality Business” soon to be published where we look at your hospitality business, and how your customers are your lifeline. From this I look at how your relationship with your supplier, staff and guests can help you to run a more profitable business.

The business seminars at The Independent Hotel Show are free for attendees and help to keep Independent Hoteliers up to date with industry trends.