Trends Assessment 2 “Personalized Customer Service” November 16, 2012HT-344 Hospitality and Tourism Marketing and Sales By: Kate Smuda and Lauren Flory
BackgroundThe hospitality industry has always worked with creating a better environment for the customer.Customer is always right and what they want is what needs to happen. This type of service wasonly limited to the front desk clerk or room service. There was no way for the guest to give theirpoint of view on what they would like their room to look like. I have stayed in many hotels withmy family for vacation trips or family gatherings. Never did I feel like I was at home in theserooms. The article “Personalization is Becoming a Reality across the Hospitality Industry” statesfor years companies have relied on mass marketing (one size fits all) or traditional approaches,such as RFM (based on customers’ Recency, Frequency, and Monetary value), to communicateand sell to their customers and prospect. Most of the hotel industry fits this characteristic. Thehotels who come up on top are the ones who make their rooms a home to the travelers while theyare staying.The hotel experience is becoming more desirable. Guests want to enjoy their stay rather than geta good night’s sleep. The article “ Personalization is Becoming…” mentions according to arecent study by Fast Forward and Amadeus, customers want an increasing say, if not totalcontrol, over what they expect of their hotel and what they are willing to pay for. More hotelguests will expect their stay to be personalized around a set of choices they make at the time ofbooking or prior to arrival. I remember this was nowhere near the thought of staying in a hotelwhile I was younger. The only customer service we were given was at the front desk checking inor if we had a problem with our room.Customers are beginning to be verbal on what they would like for hotels to do for them. This hasbecome a standard for new guests at a hotel. The hotel now needs to be asking the questionsrather than the guest asking them. From the article “Future Hotel Trends- 8 Hotel GuestsDemands that will Shape Hospitality” Life is made up of moments. It’s these you remember, cherish, crave. And sometimes service experiences blow you away… a lot of times they leave you a nervous wreck. I want to be able to share my feelings, be they elation or frustration immediately… when they are at their most intense. I want to ensure my voice is heard, is handled with discretion and is acted upon.This article talks about the guests giving “instant feedback” when the information is needed andwhen it is not. I love technology and the convenience automation offers. But sometimes I missjust talking to someone… another human who will listen to me, empathize and help me—also isstated from the article “Future Hotel Trends…” I think bringing the guests back to reality is keywith this customized service. The hotel industry has become so enclosed in the technology fieldthat we start to loose having a human body present. With the hotel industry looking to advancetheir market by connecting with the guests we feel this will become the new attraction to hotels.People will want to stay at hotels that make them feel at home. Instead of having high technologyitems encompassing the business, we are now getting back to having front desk clerks anddoormen to greet guests as they arrive. The doormen even are given names of guests toremember.
Case StudiesThe Luxury Collection, St. Regis hotels have taken personalized customer service to the nextlevel. St. Regis is part of the Starwood Hotel & Resort collection and they have three majorcustomer service commitments. They call these three commitments “promises” and thesepromises guide their everyday actions. The three promises are; go the extra step, play as a team,and do the right thing. They include taking actions that build lasting connections and loyalty,working globally and across all teams in the company, and using good judgment and respectingeveryone from guests to the environment. The Starwood collections uphold the promises and arecommitted to creating a good work environment and diverse guest experiences. St. Regis alongwith other Starwood properties strives for personalized customer service and providing theirguests with exceptional service. Starwood Hotels & Resorts are using FaceTime for preferredguest members to connect with the company’s customer service agents. “Starwood Hotels isproud to offer face-to-face video calling for SPG members with FaceTime. Apple’s innovativetechnology allows us to provide a meaningful, personalized experience that will resonate withour most loyal customers,” said David Godsman, vice president Global Web Services. He alsostated, “By offering our member’s access to FaceTime, they are able to enjoy a morepersonalized customer service experience.” Facetime is a video calling feature Apple provideswhich links computers, iPhones, iPod Touches, and iPads. This feature allows preferredcustomers to actually see who is helping them make reservations, book award stays, checkaccount balances, or just learn more about the hotel chain. Technology is making a major impacton the hospitality industry and this technology is continuously making customer service better.Starwood hotels followed the trend of a luxury hotel in Miami who started to provide theircustomers with Skype sessions so they could interact with family and friends that were not onvacation with them. Starwood took that idea a step further and started to interact face to face withcustomers via technology. The hotels and resorts took a step in the right direction by usingFaceTime, but they do need to consider the preferred customers that do not use Apple productsand come up with another way to video chat with them.The Mandarin Hotel Group has worked with creating a better experience for the customersvisiting. The article “How Mandarin Hotel Implements its Unique Customer Loyalty Strategy”talks about what makes this system noteworthy is the way data is collected, shared, and turnedinto service that meets guests’ needs an reflects the rare qualities of the Group’s varied hotelsaround the world. Data collection comes from three sources: Information the guests willingly provide about their likes and dislikes Preferences the hotel discerns from guests’ actions, such as the room temperature they set Information the hotel staff gathers from guests to improve their stay.I thought this was interesting because of how they watch the guests’ actions on how they kepttheir room. The smallest detail can really make a difference. I think that if my hotel room wascreated to fit my needs I would want to stay there for an extended period of time. The article“How Mandarin Hotel…” also talks about the housekeeper might have a conversation with aguest, where she says, “I’ve noticed you never eat the green apples, only the red ones,’ and takesnotes, “prices says. The Global Guest system collects this information and has it available tohotel staff anywhere in the world when that guests checks in. A guest can create their ideal roomwithout having to talk with the staff about it. Hotels can use their actions to the businesses
advantage. Body language and habit are almost the best way of getting feelings across tocustomer relation personnel.Great Clips salon has become the next best thing in customer relations. Their business hascreated a database where the customers who come in to get their haircut will be remembered inthe system. That way the next time that they need to get a haircut again, the style they got beforeis already in the system and the hairstylist knows what to do before the customer has to say aword. We liked this because having to explain what you want done to your hair is always anevent in itself. Usually the hairstylist doesn’t understand you and goes for the easy route and thenyou come out with something totally different than what your ideal was or you end up having avery long argument of what you would like done and what they can do. On the website for greatclips it states, Great Clips understands that with today’s fast-paced lifestyle, you need a salon that fits your schedule. That’s why we’re open evenings and weekends; no appointments necessary. At Great Clips, you can relax, because you know you will get an affordable, quality haircut in a comfortable, friendly salon.We thought this was a good example because the business Great Clips has worked withcustomers to figure out what they wanted and what was expected of their business.J. Crew is a clothing store that was first debuted in 1983 and feature specialty shops for men,women, and kids. CEO Millard Drexler pushes service, quality, and innovation to the next level.J. Crew has begun providing more personalized customer service by providing a 24/7 live chat.The chat box pops up automatically within a few minutes of being on the site and a customerservice representative responds quickly. The customer can ask for suggestions about outfits,about return policies, about certain materials, and many more. Since the customer is alreadylogged onto the website J. Crew offers a convenient and fast way of connecting with theircustomers. Although live chat is convenient for customers to contact a representative, chat hasbeen around for many years. The company needs to look at new ways of providing customerswith personalized service, which could include video chatting or skyping.Interview ResultsKristine’s was a small family diner in Three Lakes, WI that was located on the Three Lakeschain of lakes. The restaurant provided a comfortable setting that made customers feel like theywere right at home. Besides the fact that Three Lakes is a small town of about 500 peopleKristine made sure all customers felt like family. Kristine Bassett ran the restaurant for about 20years and in that time she made sure to provide customers with personalized customer service.As owner and manager of the restaurant she realized it was important for her to get to know hercustomers and contact them face-to-face. By getting involved with customers she created a loyalcustomer base that supported her small business. She said as a business owner it is important tomeet and learn about your customers so they feel appreciated. She said that personalizedcustomer service is a great marketing tool because as word of mouth spreads about the greatservice more customers are willing to support the business. Although Kristine’s Restaurant was asmall scale restaurant customer service still remains a high priority. She believes the key tostaying ahead of this trend is by having positive employees that are aware of how to provide
excellent customer service.ConclusionIn conclusion the industry of connecting with customers is becoming a bigger trend. We bothfeel that this will continue to grow because of the new market of customers. They wanteverything to be the way that they ask it for. I believe that each customer will benefit from thenew customer service and will become more relaxed with the environment. Having a home awayfrom home has always been the goal for the hotel industry and now they are making it intonormality in the hotel industry.SourcesSt. Regis News. Starwood Hotels & Resorts, 1 Jan. 2012. Web. 15 Nov. 2012. <http://www.starwoodhotels.com/stregis/news/news_release_detail.html?Id=FaceTime01 102011>.Luxury Collection, St. Regis Hotels Personalize Commnication with Mobile Video Chat. Luxury Daily, 12 Jan. 2011. Web. 15 Nov. 2012. <http://www.luxurydaily.com/luxury- collection-st-regis-hotels-personalize-communication-with-mobile-video-chat/>."Company History."J. Crew. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2012. <http://www.jcrew.com/help/about_jcrew.jsp>.Bassett, Kristine. Personal interview. 11 Nov. 2012.http://blogs.msdn.com/b/microsoft_business_intelligence1/archive/2011/02/09/how-mandarin-hotel-implements-its-unique-customer-loyalty-strategy.aspx