How to Deal with Unfriendly Guests
You know customer service is a vital piece to the success of your hotel property. And, you know that it is always easier to provide great service to happy customers.
What is difficult, though, is providing excellent service to grumpy customers, even though it’s just as important. Consider an American Express study that shows more than 30% of Americans say they will consider switching companies after just a single instance of poor service.
So, how do you provide great service to all customers? It certainly takes some forethought and training. Let’s look at how to deal with unfriendly guests so they leave with good feelings about your hotel.
Listen with Care
Your first step when dealing with unfriendly guests is listening. This can be hard for many of us to practice listening skills because minds wander, and your staff member may be thinking ahead as to how to answer.
Yet, you want to encourage your staff to really listen. Let the hotel guest explain how he/she feels in full. You want to then acknowledge that you hear what the person is saying.
The best part of listening is that your customer feels like you care because you’re quiet long enough to hear about their complaints.
While listening, take care to maintain good body language. Staff shouldn’t cross their arms, look impatient, or take a defensive stance. Maintain an open body position and eye contact to further show your customer you’re listening.
Once the guest is done talking, the next step is to summarize what you just heard. This validates their complaint and lets them know you heard them. They can also clarify anything you missed.
Use a calm voice when summarizing their complaint and talk with empathy. They will pick up on any anger or judgment in your voice.
One other tip is to use “I” words. For example, you might say, “I hear what you’re saying, and that you are upset because the cleaning crew didn’t clean your bathroom…”
By using your “I” words, you take out any blame in the statement.
During the entire exchange with your grumpy customer, you and your staff may find this person yelling at you, being rude and hostile, and just plain unfriendly.
It doesn’t help the situation at all if you respond in kind. What’s more, if you scream and yell back, you’re going to escalate the situation to a point of no return.
Practice ways to calm yourself so you maintain your composure.
Don’t Get Defensive
Another tip is to remain removed from the situation by not getting defensive. You don’t want to take the customer’s complaints personally.
In most cases, the customer isn’t really angry at you. They are unhappy with some part of the service they received at your property.
Empathize and Sympathize with Sincerity
There is a difference between empathy and sympathy, and they are both important in this instance.
When you sympathize with someone, you are showing compassion for the hardships of your customer. When you empathize with someone, you are actively putting yourself in their shoes.
Show these emotions of kindness to your customer by letting them know how sorry you are and that you understand what they’re saying. You may not know exactly how they feel, but you can show them understanding by respecting their position.
Whether you did something wrong, one of your employees did, or no one really did, you still want to apologize.
Bottom line – whether their complaint is legitimate or not doesn’t really matter. What does matter is your reaction to it.
Your best practice is to apologize kindly. Why? You’d like them to remain customers, and even more importantly, you don’t want them to speak ill of your hotel to their friends and family or spread it online.
One worst case scenario would be them writing a bad review about you on Google or Facebook. This is just another reason why you want to apologize and be sincere about it.
The worst thing you can do with an unfriendly guest is argue about the situation.
When things get emotional on both sides, the chance of a favorable outcome slip away quickly.
The best thing you can do is let your customer do all the venting. Once done, you can practice all the tips mentioned here.
Find Them a Solution
You’ve listened, and you’ve apologized. Now it’s time to provide them with a solution.
A great way to do this is to ask your guest what he or she feels would be a good solution their problem. For example, they may simply want their bathroom cleaned.
Oftentimes the solutions are simple, and by asking the customer for the solution you put the person in the driver’s seat, again validating that you care about the outcome.
Don’t forget to follow up with your hotel guest as this provides closure for everyone.
For example, if you asked your cleaning staff to go back in and clean the guest’s room, you want to visit with your guest to make sure it was done appropriately and to his/her liking.
Then, take it one step further, and after your guest leaves, send a handwritten personal note to the guest thanking him/her for their visit. This solidifies your stance with the guest that he/she is a valued customer.
You might even offer them a discount for another stay. Hopefully by taking all these steps you will have flipped a bad situation to a fruitful one.
As someone who works in the hospitality industry, you know your hotel guests expect the best in customer service. They want to have a great experience that begins with your staff.
Providing this experience is often difficult when your guests are surly and upset about something. How you and your staff deal with the unfriendly guest separates you from the competition.
Take the tips in this article and provide some training for your staff. Doing this gives them the tools they need to turn an unhappy hotel patron into one that is either happy and/or satisfied.
Customer service training extends far beyond the basics, and you’ll find your hotel has more favorable ratings when you also have strategies in place for dealing with the disgruntled guest.
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