Can you retain Guests who complain?coaching-for-peak-cstomer-experiences.pdf
Absolutely! Most lifetime relationships are won or lost on the basis of how you
respond to complaints.
Most Hoteliers mistakenly believe that the critical point in developing a relationship with
a Guest is the early stage—when all the wining and dining and getting to know each other occurs.
Actually, the critical steps that determine the life span of the relationship are all the unexpected events that occur later. Guests watch how you handle their
complaints, how you deal with them when they are upset. By using the following
strategies, you can turn your most irate Guests into loyal, lifetime Guests.
Generously Listen to Guests’ Concerns
Llisten to Guests. Don’t interrupt. Let Guests talk. Hear them out completely. Let them vent. Don’t let Guests go overboard, but let them express all their feelings. Until
they get their anger and frustration out, they will be hard to deal with.
Listen specifically to a Guest’s tone of voice; that usually tells you how angry your Guest is. Your goal is to relax the Guest. As your Guest is speaking he or she should
be calming down, not getting angrier. The Guest’s tone of voice should be a
good barometer of how you are doing.
While Guests are upset, recognize and remember that they are not upset with you; they
are upset with the situation—with not getting complete satisfaction. Plus, a Guest might just be having a bad day. Whatever the reason, you will be more effective
dealing with a challenging Guest when you do not take a complaint personally.
Keep your angriest
Guests focused on the facts and on your desire to help them. After Guests have told you why they are upset, thank them for sharing their concerns with you. A thank-you
acknowledges that you’ve heard what Guests have said.
Apologize and Empathize
How would you handle the one angry Guest out of 26 who took the time to write you? Some people in workshops suggest informing the boss or writing a response
letter. If you took the time to write a letter, how do you want to be responded
to? The best response is a simple telephone call. After all, if you wrote the
letter, wouldn’t you want a personal and immediate response?
After you have completely listened to and thanked the Guest for bringing this issue to your
attention, genuinely apologize for whatever went wrong. Even when the problem is not your fault, give the Guest the benefit of the doubt and apologize. If the fault lies
elsewhere in your company, assume responsibility anyway. The last thing an upset
Guest wants to hear is about internal company issues. A genuine apology goes a
long way toward soothing a disgruntled Guest, and soothing a disgruntled Guest
will lead to your keeping that Guest for life. After you have listened and
apologized to your Guest, empathize with him or her. Let your Guest know that
you appreciate how he or she feels, that you understand. This should not be
shallow or disingenuous. It must be sincere.
Fix the Problem or Offer Restitution
If you resolve a problem on the spot, 95 percent of Guests will stay.
If complaints are handled to a Guest’s satisfaction, 90 percent of upset Guests will stay.
Fix the problem—and the sooner the better. If you truly want lifetime Guests, apologies are
not enough. You have to fix the problem that is the source of the complaint or, if you can’t fix it, make up for the Guest’s trouble in some other way.
Offer another, more expensive product if the product you’ve delivered is faulty and can’t be
replaced. Offer some free service in the future if slow or faulty service caused problems for the Guest that can’t be fixed. Better yet, if Guests don’t like your
proposed game plan, ask them, “What can we do to make this better?” In my
experience, unhappy Guests will invariably ask for less than you are willing to
Thank Guests for taking time to call you and make you aware of how you can serve them better. Take control of the situation, and ask if your Guests need anything
else. Let your Guests know that you are always available to them. Restate your
name at the end of a telephone call and encourage your Guest to call you
personally the next time he or she needs anything.The Way to Learn
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