A business keeps its customers by treating them right every time!
A consistently superior customer experience cultivates customer loyalty, strengthens the brand value and gives better revenues. It also turns the customers into advocates of the company. In today’s hyper competitive market, it is just not enough to have the best product at a nominal price. To sustain and progress, the business must deliver a great customer experience – a delight! Hotels must deliver superior guest experience from its view point.
In my hospitality career, spanning over a decade and a half, I have met people right from the entry level staff to general managers and managing directors. All these interactions have been extremely fruitful; each one has been a learning experience. When I joined a reputed five-star hotel as a management trainee, I came to know more about hotel operations, which I was unaware when I was a student. While working in the housekeeping department, I came across room attendants who were working for more than 25 years, were good at work but didn’t understand some finer nuances of the trade. I always wondered why and started looking out for the answers.
I have seen room attendants who haven’t ever used the rooms that they make. For that matter, even the Executive Housekeepers may have worked in the same property for many years but never have spend a day in the hotel room or had a shower in the rooms that they are responsible for. They would’ve never experienced the services that they provide to others. In case of Chefs and kitchen staff, they have to test and then taste the dishes on the menu. The same applies to the Food and Beverage service staff, each dish or a drink is reviewed before it finally sees itself on the menu card. But we do not look at the room as a product. In fact, it is a product that gives the highest revenue to the hotel. It deserves the same level of commitment that goes for the items on the menu. The guestroom is the customer’s personal space till the time he is staying at the hotel. Housekeeping staff are the eyes and ears of the hotel as they get the first hand feedback of the guest experience.
Housekeeping staff need to know what happens when they make the bed a bit tighter, or ignore areas below the vanity counter or the area under the WC. Sometimes guests may find no soaps and at other times two are present in a packet, or no shower gel but two shampoos, on which something is written, and is so small that it is impossible to read while taking a shower.
Guests sometimes keep their personal belongings in the place according to their convenience. But, while cleaning the room, the housekeeping staff tucks them away at the right place. Guests may feel annoyed because of this. The situation can be altered if the housekeeping staff stays in the rooms for a day or two to experience the services and understand the product that they deliver. They will learn about the aspects that they need to focus on or areas that they can’t afford to overlook. For example, a guest while lying down on the bed can see the dusty writing table. The housekeeping staff may have overlooked while checking the room. Similarly, while having bath guests can notice the areas below the vanity counter and the WC. These areas require the same attention as the vanity counter or the mirror.
The housekeeping department should evaluate their standard operating procedures and practices making sure that they are guest friendly and at the same time convenient for the staff. Guest feedback can come very handy here. The key is to make the housekeeping staff experience the product that they deliver – the guest room and its facilities. Thus they can provide a zero defect, comfortable room to the guest.
Laxmi Todiwan, Associate Professor & HOD (Accommodations), Apeejay Institute of Hospitality, No.1, Sector 10, CBD Belapur, Navi Mumbai