News for the Hospitality Executive
Is YOUR Service Priovider Providing Service to YOU?
by Terence Ronson, ISHC
November 16, 2011
I attend meetings, talk with clients and Associates, read various articles and BLOGs, and when I do so, all too frequently I unfortunately hear adverse comments about Service providers and how woefully inadequate they are about providing service to YOU - The Hotelier.
In an industry that exists solely to provide service - I ask myself why is this? Why is it that a Service Provider (You) are not receiving service levels commensurate with your expectations? Is it conceivable that the customer - YOU, are being too demanding or have too high expectations, or is it really the case - the service you receive sucks?
Let's firstly ask ourselves - what kind of service levels are we looking for?
Personally, I think it's as follows:
When I hear the above points, I also challenge the person making the statement asking why they need to contact support - trying to understand the underlying reason(s):
To draw a parallel - if you cut your finger at home, and all you need is a Band Aid, or sneeze a couple of times - do you call the emergency services to send an Ambulance? I hope not!
Let's talk about in-house first line support
Firstly - day-to-day support of application solutions [like PMS, PABX, POS, S&C, HR, Accounting to mention a few] is not the job of the IT Manager! What? I hear you say. Yes, it is NOT his/her responsibility. The IT Manager should be responsible for the entire network making sure all systems work harmoniously - interconnect via interfaces and function smoothly - they manage the sum of all the parts - the IT ecosystem.
If you have a software issue with say your PMS - and you can't print a report, or something simple goes awry with the Point of Sale system [and I don't mean a hardware failure], then the System Owner - people within the owning group for this system (Stakeholders) in which it is a business tool should firstly try to handle this utilizing their diagnostic skills and higher level of training as a Super User. And in the unlikely event that they cannot handle the case - then the incident should be escalated to the IT Manager to call the Support line. If you don't already have Super Users in place - then you should develop some quickly to take care of this gaping need.
When you call Support - you MUST log the particular incident/case in some form of System Log - some Hotels use a Spreadsheet, some use a physical log book, and some have more sophisticated tracking systems - Like Unify. Whatever method you use, and you must use one - the call should be logged with at least the following information:
The IT Manager should review logs on a Daily basis so he/she knows what's going on - even if they have been woken up at home in the middle of the night to help support the case. This should be done prior to the daily Morning Briefing, since some of the issues may be raised at that time - especially if they were critical and affected the operation.
It's also a good idea to summarize system issues and find any trends/patterns. These should appear quickly if Logs are well maintained and analyzed. For example if you see printers keep failing, reports don't print, system hangs during a certain process - then you know there is a trend. More importantly if Support is being called because a certain process is not working on a regular basis.
Vendors should also be logging Support Calls and analyzing them on a regular basis with clients - understanding where issues are happening, and see if patterns emerge that perhaps require additional training or some form of operational modification.
It is important to point out to the Hotel if a particular person keeps calling Support for issues that could easily be handled on-property, then additional training should be given to enhance that individual's First-aid skills. This especially rings true with employee churn and after an upgrade has taken place. I know this is one of the arguments CIO's are using for moving systems off-property/tothe Cloud - and by doing so, reduce the need for on-property skills.
Fact is that the existence of (up-to-date) SOPs, which include the use of system functions (input/output), are a convenient vehicle to administer training (and re-training) ensuring consistent service. There is nothing worse for the business than outdated SOPs and I would go as far as binding the SOP maintenance and training activities to the annual bonus scheme of every supervisor. It includes updates as a result of either system enhancements/upgrades or business driven changes.
But until that happens - both parties can benefit from higher levels of on-property skills, and more importantly by doing so, the Hotels' operation will be improved, and the Support line will receive less calls. Overall, it's WIN WIN
(C) Terence Ronson ISHC
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|Fairmont Hotels Installing Self-service Kiosks in All North America Hotels; Includes Guestroom Mapping and Airline Check-In Features / June 2005|
|Hilton Tests New Check-In/Check-Out Self Service Kiosks at Two Flagship Properties / Sept 2003|