‘A lavishly imagined dream’, the Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi is one of the world’s most luxurious hotels. Described on their website as ‘the definition of an unrivalled and Arabian fantasy” and costing £300 per night, already your expectations are heightened. The website oozes five star luxury and anything short of perfect could be viewed as a massive failing by guests.
Then there’s the Premier Inn where, ‘a great stay starts’ and they boast about their exclusive rates and brilliant value meal deals. Price and value are used to set expectations about staying at a Premier Inn. However, the brand also promises a ‘great stay’. What does this mean? Well, the soundest sleep, seriously tasty food, kid friendly, bike friendly and free wi-fi are top of their agenda. There is a slight nod to ‘our people’ however the service you might expect is largely ignored.
Two very different hotels. Both very different brands. Two very different experiences. And two very different types of customers. Expectations set through their website, underpinned by their brand.
It’s easy to differentiate between these two types of hotels. You know what level of service to expect based on price, star rating, the brand, the location and so on. But how do you manage your client expectations when your business isn’t as clear cut as a five star hotel or a budget hotel? This is exactly the case for property factoring and block management firms where service is paramount.
Jan Carlzon famously turned around failing Scandinavian Airlines using his ‘Moments of Truth’. These moments are the touch points that customers go through an experience with the airline. Carlzon recognised that no one in the industry at the time was focussing on customer service. They identified where customers had an interaction with staff of the airline, or with the brand and ensured these touch points were experiential with an element of ‘surprise’.
What’s important to take from Carlzon’s implementation of exceptional service is how he communicated to staff. “An individual without information cannot take responsibility; an individual who is given information cannot help but take responsibility.”
How do you impress your clients every time you interact with them? Do you empower your staff to be accountable in delivering their moments of truth without being prescriptive?
How do you manage client expectations?
Premier Inn focuses on value for money and the basics of a ‘great stay’ – wi-fi and a good night’s sleep. They don’t talk about great customer service or even try to set a standard – which subconsciously sets a low expectation about the sort of service you should expect. Not a lot.
It’s important to manage your client’s expectations and not to over promise and under deliver. Whether it’s something as small as returning a phone call when you say you will or setting and keeping to Service Level Agreements, this should be clear to everyone involved.
Getting it right when things go wrong
Can you remember the last time you received outstanding customer service? Perhaps someone went above and beyond to make you feel welcome. Or was there a time when a business let you down but they managed to turn it around?
Often, it’s only when things go wrong that we get a chance to prove how well we can delight clients. Accepting that mistakes happen and having a strategy in place to overcome any potential mishaps, could make all the difference to clients and staff satisfaction.
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