How to deal with an unhappy customer?
The hotel business is where hoteliers possibly encounter the most myriad varieties of people. Yes, any sort of customer service job involves dealing with people of various temperaments. But, these temperaments shine through more vividly when these people are supposed to make the hotel their temporary home for the time being.
Yes, it can be frustrating to deal with unhappy and angry customers. Especially when 8 out of 10 times the problem has nothing to do with the hotel. There’s not much that can be done about not being able to live up to a customer’s extremely unrealistic expectations.
But regardless of whose fault it is, as a hotelier, it’s important to know how to make peaceful conflict resolutions. This is because when a customer uploads a nasty review about the hotel onto an OTA platform, there is no way to make the other potential guests believe instead of the customer.
Sometimes, the customer is always right. And even one irate customer can cost thousands of dollars to a hotel if you’re not careful.
This article has been written for the exclusive purpose to help other hoteliers how deal with an angry customer. Follow these tips and you won’t be losing out on a fortune every time the hotel gets criticism.
8 Foolproof Ways to Handle an Irate Customer:
First, apologize. No, it doesn’t matter if the hotel didn’t do anything wrong. When dealing with an angry customer, it’s important to always apologize first. It might not be right, but it works. And that’s what’s important in conflict resolution.
What the hoteliers say and also what their body language says matter a lot. Don’t unconsciously give off signals that the hotel does not care about the customer’s problem or that it is not being taken seriously.
No matter what the problem is, it is impossible to behave like it’s a top priority.
The worst word to start a conflict resolution with is “but.” Make it seem as earnest and concerned as possible and start with “I’m extremely sorry for the inconvenience you’re faced. I’ll look into it immediately.”
Automate the Process
Once the conflict resolution attitude is right, it’s now time to focus on the practicalities.
Whenever there’s manual labor involved, there’s room for mistakes. After all, to err is human.
No, as a hotelier, you cannot rule out all forms of manual labor at the hotel but there are a lot of mundane, repetitive processes that can be automated.
A Property Management System like Stayflexi allows doing exactly this. Scared of angry customers rushing up to the front desk because of double bookings? No need to worry. With StayFlexi’s automated inventory management system, there’s no way you can mistakenly double book a room, even if the same room is listed across 100+ OTA channels. StayFlexi’s seamless two-way sync makes sure the inventory is always updated.
Not just this, every single process including housekeeping, payment, booking extensions, etc. can be automated through StayFlexi. This reduces the room for human error as much as possible.
Automating the processes of managing a hotel also increases accountability. Take StayFlexi’s Smart Housekeeping feature, for example.
Previously guests had a hard time conveying their grievances to the housekeeping department because the front desk receptionist acted as the middleman. And even when the message was conveyed, often the problem found no resolution because no one knew whose job it was to deal with the issue.
With the Smart Housekeeping feature, guests can directly lodge their complaints through the Stayflexi mobile app. This notification immediately reaches the cleaning staff who is in charge of the room. The task can be only marked as completed once the staff member actually solves the problem that the guest had been facing.
In the rare case that the problem is not resolved, it can be directly pinpointed whom to hold accountable for the issue.
Provide Conflict Resolution Training
Even in staff-less hotels all across the US, the housekeeping staff still has to be present on-site. And no matter how great the hotel is at dealing with angry customers, it is important to provide the same training to every staff.
There cannot be a staff member rolling their eyes in the background as the hotel is trying its best to resolve the issue. As mentioned before, individual words and body language can be triggering.
Staff members need regular training on these triggers that they need to avoid while dealing with irate customers.
Don’t Pass the Parcel
One of the most annoying things that happens every time a customer brings up an issue is that the department that is being currently addressed tries to pass the parcel to another department.
It doesn’t matter if a customer is approaching the housekeeping department for an issue with the internet connection, the problem needs to be solved then and there.
You might be wondering “How?” First, almost all hotels now have a host of versatile staff members who travel between various departments according to the requirement. So, they might know how to deal with issues that don’t revolve around the department they are currently stationed in.
Second, the staff members must always know whom to contact in case a problem arises. Instead of asking the guest to contact another department, it should technically be the job of the hotel employee who is being currently addressed.
Third, to get rid of this entire “pass the parcel” issue by opting for StayFlexi. Through StayFlexi, the exact department that can solve your problem is alerted immediately when you raise an issue. No human intervention is needed at all to carry the message forward.
Settle Payments Immediately
One of the easiest ways to get prevent angry customers and chargebacks is by not settling payments immediately.
Hotels have this habit of piling up all payments till the very end when the customer is provided with an elongated list of charges during the checkout. This is when they have no time to go through the list properly and they only start noticing the discrepancies when it’s too late for the hotelier to explain the matter.
Stayflexi allows hoteliers to set up POS shops for all the e-commerce ventures inside the hotel. It also allows settling payments immediately so that the customer can easily keep track of what he is being charged for. Otherwise, it would be justifiably difficult to keep track of all the little charges that pile up during the stay.
This ensures that the customer has enough time to notice any discrepancies while they are still within the hotel premises. Even if there are any issues, the problem can be solved there immediately instead of getting the bank involved in it.
Believe the Guest
Hoteliers should never have the predisposition to disbelieve the guests. If the guest has a complaint regarding the room’s lighting, that problem might actually exist.
As a hotelier, you do not regularly stay in the rooms of the hotels. The customers do. So, they are way more likely to notice problems that you haven’t noticed yet.
Hoteliers should always thank them for making them aware of an issue that was previously not known. It might save you from losing out on thousands of future customers.
Always Take Feedback
Whether or not the guest had a great stay, make sure their feedback is always collected. Even if there are some harsh criticisms, this might help to understand the behavior and expectations of customers better.
Also, always follow up on the customers who have previously faced a problem. They should know that the hotel is dedicated to making this stay as pleasant for them as possible.
Following these tips can get the hotels out of some really messy arguments with the guests. How have you handled conflict resolution with irate customers in the past? Let us know in the comments below!