Carol Verret Consulting 
and Training
Consulting
Training Seminars
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The "Tipping Point"
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Touch Points Make a Difference
in Customer Service Training
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by Carol Verret, March 2006 (This is the first article in a series of two – the next one will speak to the “Tipping Point in Sales”.)

Malcolm Gladwell’s book “The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference” has tremendous applications in the hospitality industry in terms of customer service! Ours is an industry of ‘little things’ – identifying which ones will ‘tip’ our guests positively or negatively is the challenge!

There are many issues affecting the delivery of customer service and how our guests select us. Thanks to web sites such as TripAdvisor, among many others, a potential guest has an opportunity to preview the service delivery at any hotel through the eyes of past guests.
Guest Comment Cards, many hotels’ primary measurement of service delivery, tend to be skewed by those guests who had a problem or those guests who had an extraordinary experience (and the goal is for all of them to have extraordinary experiences). It is safe to assume that the ‘rating web sites’ have the same skew, discounting any attempts to seed the reviews by the hotel staff. (You wouldn’t do that, would you?) 

However, the instructive part of these sites is to be able to identify those ‘touch points’ that ‘tipped’ the guest positively or negatively in their perception of the property. Not all touch points are of equal importance and there are some that will not make a positive difference in the guest perception if all is well but will score negatively if it is not. For example, a guest doesn’t smile with glee if all the lights in the room work when the switch is turned on but will be displeased if there are lights that don’t work.

In the delivery of customer service training, we struggle with drilling down customer service delivery to our service associates and they are all service associates, even the maintenance engineers! The more specific our expectations of our associates’ customer service delivery the better the chances of success.

The important touch points can be engineered by focusing on them in customer service training so that our GSAs understand them, why they are important and the guest service behaviors that will ensure they are positive. It is an accumulation of positive ‘touch’ points that eventually ‘tips’ the guest perception positively or negatively.

A few actions you can take now to identify the ‘touch points’ that ‘tip’ your guests to perceive the hotel positively or negatively and begin to engineer them:

1. Monitor your hotel’s reviews on the web sites. There are many sites that feature reviews of a hotel including the franchise site, Travelocity, etc and Trip Advisor. Without getting emotional, coolly analyze the reviews for commonly mentioned patterns in customer service gaps. When a pattern emerges, try to break the complaint down into the ‘touch points’ of guest contact.

2. Share the reviews with your staff at departmental meetings. Please remember that we entrust guest service to the least paid and the least committed people in the hotel. People respond to requests better when they understand why you are asking them to modify certain aspects of their behavior. The staff doesn’t log onto the web sites and won’t understand where you are coming from if you don’t show them.

3. Set goals and incentives for improvement in the targeted areas. Why would people modify their behavior if they are going to receive the same paycheck –regardless of whether they implement your suggestions or not? Set the terms of measurement for improvement and benchmarks – the reviews are not going to turn totally positive in one month. ‘Tipping’ the guest is a process – there is no quick fix. Set up incentives, money is always preferable, to reward your associates for making positive changes.

4. Implement a guest service training program not just for the associates but a ‘train the trainer’ program so that your managers have the tools to train the associates. A good trainer can help you do this. If front line turnover is high, and most hotels have high turnovers in these areas, any training you implement for them will last only as long as the last employee.

5. Insert guest service performance into the employee review process. People tend to perform those functions that they perceive to be the most important to their supervisors. If their initial training and review focuses on the technical training they received on the PMS or in F&B on menu knowledge the associate assumes that this is the most important part of their jobs. Imbed your new employee training with guest service training on the ‘touch points’ that ‘tip’ the guest positively in their perception of the hotel.

In an increasingly competitive environment, guest service is increasingly the distinctive advantage. If rate and product are relatively similar, guest service makes the difference – just check out what your past guests are saying to your potential guests!




Carol Verret And Associates Consulting and Training offers training services and consulting in the areas of sales, revenue management and customer service primarily but not exclusively to the hospitality industry. To find out more about the company click on www.carolverret.com. To contact carol send her an email at carol@carolverret.com or she can be reached by cell phone (303) 618-4065.

copyright © Carol Verret, 2002-2003 -2004 -2005


 
Contact:
Carol Verret, Consulting and Training
Carol Verret
5910 S. University #C-18, PMB 374
Greenwood Village, CO 80121
Telephone: (303) 618-4065
carol@carolverret.com
Web Site: http://www.carolverret.com/
Email: carol@carolverret.com
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Also See: Selling Up! Taking Group Room Revenue to a New Level / Carol Verret / February 2006
Revenue Management 2006; The Risks and Rewards / Carol Verret /January 2006 
Revenue Management and Group Sales - The Partnership Not the Disconnect / Carol Verret / November 2005
Habits of Highly Successful Hotel Sales People / Carol Verret / September 2005
Triple Witching Hour - The Marketing Plan, Revenue Management Strategy and RFPs for '06 / Carol Verret / August 2005
"Smile" is a Learned Behavior - Creating a Culture of Customer Service / Carol Verret / July 2005
Revenue Management Systems -- Considerations for Evaluation / Carol Verret / June 2005
Disconnect -- Aligning the Revenue Management and Sales Strategies / Carol Verret / May 2005
Independent Hotels & Resorts; Ride the Wave or Float with the Tide? / Carol Verret / March 2005
Hospitality Sales Training Companies Reach Across the Competitive Playing Field to Combine Live Seminar Expertise with  the Convenience of the Internet / Carol Verret / January 2005
Revenue Management - The Challenge for Hotel Sales / Carol Verret / January 2005
Hotel Sales Departments -- Issues in Processes and Functionality / Carol Verret / November 2004
The GM'S Role in Revenue Management / Carol Verret / October 2004
Transforming the Hotel Sales Organization; Alignment with the New Realities of Sales / Carol Verret / August 2004
The Revenue Management Strategy - The Pre-Plan Marketing Plan / Carol Verret / July 2004
Hotel Revenue Management this Summer - a Game of Skill, Art and Most of All Nerves / Carol Verett / May 2004
What Do Meeting Planners Want? Hotel Sales Managers Want to Know! / Carol Verret / May 2004
Revenue Management -- The Integration of Revenue Drivers / Carol Verret / March 2004
CYBER SALES -- Hotel Sales in an Internet World is the New Reality / Carol Verret / February 2004
The New Realities of Hotel Sales - Focus on Revenue Generation / Carol Verret / January 2004
Hotel Sales -- Innovation in the Face of Limitations / Carol Verret / November 2003
The Good News & the Bad News; Improving Economy = New Hotel Development / Carol Verret / October 2003
Leadership - General Managers Managing the Sales Process / Carol Verret  / October 2003
When the Crystal Ball is Cloudy; Marketing Plans for 2004 / Carol Verret / July 2003
Partnership of Sales and Technology; Using Tech Tools to "Sell" the Hotels / Carol Verret  / July 2003
Back to the Basics? The Basics of Hotel Sales Have Changed! / May 2003
Creating Sales "HUNTERS": The Skill Sets Required in the New Hotel Sales Environment / April 2003
Heightened Security Requires New Strategies in Hotels Sales / Carol Verret Consulting and Training / Mar 2003
Revenue Recovery - Building The ‘A’ Team in Sales / Carol Verret / January 2003
Contingency Marketing Plan – War In Iraq! / Carol Verret / November 2002
Playing the Rate Game - Positioning -- Positioning -- Positioning! / Carol Verret / October 2002
The Rate Game - Playing to Win / Carol Verret / October 2002
The Challenge of Marketing Independent Boutique Hotels / Carol Verett / August 2002
Hotel Sales in a Limited Service Environment - The Rules Have Changed / Carol Verett / August 2002
The General Manager’s Role in Sales -Chief Marketing Officer of the Hotel / Carol Verret / April 2002
100% Market Share Penetration is Not Good Enough / Carol Verett / January 2002
The Key to REVPAR Recovery –  New Business Development / Carol Verett / December  2001
Trash the 2002 Marketing Plan - And Just Start Over / Carol Verett / September 2001
How to Use Consultants Effectively –  A View From the Other Side  / Carol Verret / August 2001
How Soft Is Your Hotel's Economic Landing?  / Carol Verret / Aprl 2001
The ‘Value Proposition’: Marketing Yourself to Prospective Employees / Carol Verret / January 2001
Generation Y:  Motivating and Training a New Generation of Employees / Carol Verret / November  2000
Why Customer Service Seminars Don't Work / Carol Verret / October 2000
Creating a Culture of Customer Service / Carol Verret Consulting and Training / Sept 2000 
FAT, DUMB AND HAPPY – The Seasonal Boom and  Bust Cycle / Carol Verret / August 2000
Surf's Up - Ride the Wave or Miss the Boat -The Effective Use of Technology in Hotel Sales / Carol Verret / July 2000 
Measuring Effectiveness of  Hotel Sales Departments / Carol Verret / June 2000
Hotel Sales Training - The Need for Immediate Results / Carol Verret/ May 2000



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