Guest house and hotel owners will inevitably be required to respond to the occasional case when guests feel they have had a slightly less-than-perfect stay. So, what is the best way to handle complaints?
Leading hospitality finance experts Stewart Hindley & Partners have put together a few handy list of ‘Dos’ and ‘Don’ts in these situations:
- Focus on providing a great customer experience with attention to detail and set realistic expectations before guests arrive. That way, you can ensure that you don’t give customers a reason to complain in the first place.
- Be ready for those few complaints that you might get. This means being sure you know your establishment inside out. You want to be ready for almost any question, or tackle any issue, that your guests could possibly think up. You should also decide what your stance will be when a customer confronts you, what your policy is on compensation and how you will validate a complaint.
- Anticipate – have an outcome ready for as many complaints as you could think of, so try to bring the topic on to this, so as not to draw out the length of the discussion.
- Stay calm, even if the guests are worked up themselves. When a guest does decide to make a complaint, it’s important to think about your tone of voice, staying polite at all times and choosing your words carefully – especially if the complaining guest is quite animated.
- Be sure to also take the nature of the complaint on board, and look to improve whatever it is that went wrong for the guest. For example, look into upgrading a bed if guests complain it is uncomfortable.
- Endeavour to bring about a speedy conclusion to all complaints. Delaying will only escalate the issue.
- Misrepresent or over-promise clients with your promotion. For example, make sure that any promotional images you use are a realistic representation of your establishment. Use a good photographer to capture all of your ‘best sides’, but don’t mislead with images of views which do not apply to your rooms.
- Don’t feel you necessarily have to agree with everything that the complaining customer is saying – especially if you feel that some or all of what they’re saying is unfair. A better way to ‘diffuse the bomb’ is to acknowledge what the customer is complaining about, and try to shift the conversation on to the resolution.
- Don’t dwell on the complaint because, more often than not, a negative can be turned on its head to become a positive. Look upon it as an opportunity to impress with how responsive you are to complaints and to ‘practise’ your customer service skills.
- Don’t forget to treat the experience as a learning curve – to get even better at handling these situations in the future. Use it to hone your customer service skills, taking on board the criticism and using it to give your guests better experiences every time they come and stay with you.
Need a helping hand?
At Stewart Hindley and Partners, we are in an ideal position to help you as we understand the hospitality business through and through. We are long-established specialists in securing hospitality finance. Our experienced team will be able to offer you friendly and informative advice to help you build and improve your business. Browse our site for case histories and more information about the process involved, or call us now to speak to our team of experts.