Describe about the Best Practices in Customer Service?
In order to maintain status & goodwill in the market, it is necessary to achieve customer satisfaction. So there is a need to maintain good relations with the customers. Staff of the organization must be properly trained regarding ways to satisfy customer. In this report being a Customer Service Manager of Marriott International Inc., (Prospects (2004))am required to guide the employees regarding customer service policies & promotion of customer focused culture. There is also a need to study the reasons of decreasing customer satisfaction level.
Marriott International, Inc. is a leading hospitality firm in UK. Globally it has around 19 hotel brands & associates at more than 3800 (National Career Service (2012))franchised properties. It was founded by J. Willard & Alice Marriott. Its main headquarters are at Bethesda, Maryland USA. In 2012, its revenue was nearly $12 billion. It has been known for promoting culture that gives preference to people first.
Reasons for using customer service policies
Customer service is mostly demanded in hospitality industry.Following are the reasons behind using customer service policies:
Stable completion advantage
It helps in providing competition advantage as competitors can also sell same type of products at same price but cannot match the customer service policies followed by the organization.
If greater customer service is provided people will be willing to pay more for the product which further will increase profitability.
Good working environment
Greater customer service will result in customer satisfaction which further will create stress free working environment with efficient productivity & lesser conflicts among staff.
Increasing cost Efficiency
Better customer service will reduce cost as customer will be more satisfied & hence lesser cost will be incurred in satisfying their complaints.
It will help in building good reputation among customers & will further increase credibility of the organization.
Discuss the purpose of evaluating a customer service policy, indicating how this can assist future staff training and development
The purpose behind evaluating customer service policy includes: accurate feedbacks, data collection methods & relevance. Providing good customer service is an important consideration for Marriott hotels as they are required to treat all their guests equally. In order to provide good quality service there is a need of continuous care, communication, leadership skills, planning & lots of practice.Whenever any issue arises the customer has one thing in their mind as no matter what hotel will find solution to every issue. The next important requirement for hotel business is customer feedback as it will divert the business into positive direction. It will help in maintaining necessary improvements to the business. The customer service policies are relevant for hospitality organization in order to maintain the quality of their offer at right time. The data collection method of Marriott hotel involves gathering staff reports & feedbacks from social media. The most common methods used by hotel industry to gather feedbacks of customer involves getting feedback forms filled from customers, providing comment cards , using online media etc.
Customer service can be improved by providing proper training to staff as to how to deal with the customer. A culture of customer satisfaction should be created in organization which can be achieved through effective leadership training to staff where main aim is to provide best services to customer.
Evaluate different communication methods and how these are used to best effect customer focused culture in organization
Communication refers to the act of conveying information from one person to another through written or verbal messages, visuals, signals or behavior. It involves two parties one sender who is sending the message & other is receiver who is receiving the message & communication will be complete when receiver will understand the message sent by sender.
There are two types of communication; verbal and non-verbal communication
Verbal communication as expressed by Marriott hotels includes conveying message through sounds. There speech under verbal communication should be clear, calm & focused. The starting minutes of verbal communication is important as it will create impression in the mind of consumer & this impression will decide whether customer will be interested in further communication or not. Another important aspect of verbal communication is active listening. Following are the factors on which active listening depends:
Person listening must be prepared
His mind should be open & focused on speaker’s message
There should not be any disturbances
Judgement should not be based on half listening
Let other person complete his/her information
Non-verbal communication as defined by Marriott hotel includes conveying message through facial expressions, movement of body & postures, gestures, eye contact & written communication. Hence it can be concluded that in hospitality industry communication methods play an important role & effective communication is necessary to convey the message properly.
A better customer service also involves interactions with them regarding their opinion about product & organization. The recommendations of the customers can also be given through communication process. It can be said that communication play an important role in handling an important aspect of the hospitality industry i.e. customer service. The success of industry is also dependent upon effective communication with the customers. Communication is necessary for assessing the customer needs & expectations. There are various techniques through which customer’s expectations can be judged such as; Surveys, Service, questionnaire, Complaints, Customer database, Staff training.
Analyze how customer service perception is influenced by customer service provision
It can be concluded that good quality of customer service may result into customer satisfaction, increased credibility & repeat business. Customer satisfaction refers to meeting their expectations. If the needs of the customers are satisfied they will automatically feel satisfied.Another benefit is repetitive business by customer or in other words we can say customer retention. If the customer is satisfied he will deal again and again with our firm. Moreover if they are rewarded for being regular customer, there are chances that they became permanent customer of the organization. It is easy to maintain old customers then making efforts to attract new customers. The key to the success of hospitality firm is to retain their customer for longer period as cost of attracting new customer is more than retaining the old ones. The customer can be retained by giving them special treatment, giving delivery of orders on time & informing them regularly regarding updates of business.
The credibility of the company can be increased by providing them better services as it will build a good image in the mind of consumers related to organization. A better customer service will not only build the reputation, it will also increase the sales of the firm & also the profitability which further will increase the salaries & benefits of employees.
Assess sources of information on customer requirements and satisfactions levels
A customer can be satisfied if his expectations are fulfilled, so we can say that customer’s expectations influence satisfaction level. Also there are many factors influencing customer expectations such as personal needs, past experiences, explicit & implicit service communication etc. It is a well-known fact that, it is necessary to understand the customer completely in order to satisfy him. Whatever is promised to him must be delivered. There are many ways through which we can create better understanding regarding our customer such as:
Keep yourself at their position & know their point of view regarding the business
Collect necessary information related to their behavior & analyzing it
Another research required to be conducted is of staff that have their own perceptions related to business & the customers. Key issues in relation with feedback of staff include:
Methods adopted should be supportive to other methods used by direct service users
Impact of feedback related to delivery of service should be considered & reported
Creation of customer database shall help the hotel to identify customer mix & important benefits from different segments. It also ensures whether services provided by hotel are meeting customer’s desires or not because if the customer will be satisfied with the efficient delivery only then he will continue with us in future. The information related to customers can be collected through different sources & then input that information in Hotel information system. Information related to customer includes front line information, spontaneous information, information related to customer’s behavior etc.
The methods for collecting information includes primary research method which aims at collecting data through interviews & qualitative research method which includes deep research on human behavior & also find out reasons behind them. The information collected from such research provides strong evidence which will be helpful for business. A survey can be successfully conducted through planning. (UK Essays (2003))Planning plays an important role in determining requirements of the consumers & their expectations. When customer’s expectations are satisfied he will be ready to pay for & will become a permanent customer of the organization.
The research process also provided that there are 3 strategies to increase attention of customers:
Cost leadership strategy which says that a business can sell the product with better quality to customer at lower cost as compared to competitors.
Differentiation strategy which aimed at developing a unique product in the market.
Focus strategy which includes applying both cost leadership & differentiation strategy more intensely.
In hospitality industry there is direct link between staff & customers. Staff must possess right experience & knowledge of handling customers. If they are satisfied from their jobs only then they can satisfy customers. Thus in order to achieve customer satisfaction it is necessary achieve staff satisfaction first.
Suggestions to increase staff satisfaction:
Help them in achieving their objectives
Take proper care of staff & people working with them
Keep them informed regarding necessary things
Keep yourself at staff’s position & treat them in a way you want to be treated by others
Carry out research on requirements as well as satisfaction levels that Ibis Hotel customers usually have. Suggest potential improvements to the customer services to bridge the gap between the two.
Marriott aims at providing high quality service to their customers at better price. Since it is offering better comfort level by providing best rooms, better service facilities there is tendency that customer’s satisfaction level is high as they are getting what they want. The staff of the hotel is dedicatedly providing 24 hour service to customer at reception, kitchen & restaurants. This will increase the satisfaction level of customers. (UK Essays (2003))Another strategy that can increase customer satisfaction includes offering weekend promotions to customers such as offering lower rate at weekends, offering special weekend deals & long weekend deals to customers. The study of feedbacks of customers regarding hotel shows that customer has high satisfaction levels related to comforts & deals offered by Marriott group. However there are negative feedbacks also such as so much noise at front desk, poor customer service at some branches of hotel etc.
As it is a known fact that growth of business depends upon customer’s satisfaction level. So it is necessary to provide good customer service. Also the staff should be properly trained so that they provide best treatment to customers. Hence we can say that the top planning strategy for growth of business includes employee as well as customer satisfaction.
The study on customer requirements reveals that following are the satisfaction levels of the customers:
Meet Customer Expectations
It can be defined as minimum level for staying in business as customers’ requirements will be fulfilled, they won’t be having any complaints from business. (R, Attner & Allen (2007))But in this case there is no guarantee that customer will stay for longer period as business is just satisfying their requirements, it is not doing any extra effort to attain their loyalty. The competitors can easily divert the customers towards themselves by providing them special treatment. (A & Woods. (2012))
Providing services more than their expectations
It involves providing customers the treatment they are not expecting & keep their satisfaction level high. (Zeithmal. (2000))This will increase the loyalty as they will be attracted towards such special services provided by the business & there are fewer chances that competitors can divert them. This will increase profitability also as if customer is satisfied he is willing to pay more for this service.
Delighting your customers
It involves not only exceeding their expectations but make them feel delighted or we can say they get touched emotionally by such acts of business. (Nash & Nash (2001))This practice will surely leads to winning of those customers & will create high profitability of business. As there are higher chances that customer will stay longer with us as they feel that we value them and care for them. This will lead to tremendous increase in business growth. (Mather (2012))
Amaze the Customers
It is the next level of delighting. Delighting involves bringing a smile on the face of customers but this step involves make the customer feel amazed through the customer service. It will help the business to dominate the market & achieve a bigger place with high growth & profitability.
Potential improvements in customer service
there are various ways in which customer service can be improved such as:
Maintain contact with them regularly:
this can be done by regularly updating them (Hill (2012))regarding new offers, or making them members by offering subscription schemes, regular follow up with the customers regarding their satisfaction level to the new offers & updated services.
Creating customer oriented group:
customer oriented group can be framed who can regularly recommend the changes required to be made in order to improve customer service. (Marc (2014))There should be regular get together with these groups& free products can also be offered to them in order to make them happy.
Easy access: The website should be prepared in such manner that customer could reach us easily whenever there is any chaos in his mind. There should be a “FAQ” page on which they can solve their queries. The focus should be on providing friendly services to customers so that they get an easy access. (Customer Champions (2015))
Resolve complaints: the customer complaints should be addressed quickly through e-mails & Phone calls. (Eyob (2012))If required the owner can also help in resolving their problems which give them a feeling that we value them & care for their loyalty. (Glegorry (2013))
Easily approachable: we should be easily approachable to customers; they should not find any difficulty in contacting the business. (Dennis (2011)) They should be provided email services, toll free numbers, & fax contacts so that whenever they want to resolve any query they can easily contact through such services. (Tracy (2009))
Implementation of customer service policy: it must be ensured that customer service policy is properly implemented by staff. If the staff is properly trained & satisfied from their job, they will also be committed to provide better customer service& satisfy their needs & wants.
Exceeding their expectations: the services provided to customer must be more than their expectations like giving discounts on bulk purchases, sending them bouquets, cards or gifts on their special occasions etc. this give them the feeling that we care for them. (Brown (2000))
Polite behavior: the phrases such as “Thank you”, “Welcome”, “Please” etc. must be used while dealing with the customers. In other words , polite behavior should be followed while talking to the customers.
Long term relations: the efforts must be made to establish strong relations with the customers by inviting them on seminars, workshops, parties etc. this will give them an important feeling as they are valued by the business.
Planning & delivering a customer service program
A formal customer service program is required to reflect the aims of the business towards their customers & how they can be achieved. (Ron n.d.)Forming a customer service program requires strong commitment from staff. It involves planning, developing & implementing customer service program & also making efforts to sustain it. Providing proper training to staff & receiving feedback also forms part of customer service program. (Clair (2000))
Steps for creating an effective customer service program
Identify customer needs·
Prepare a plan to fulfill the needs identified·
Document the plan mentioning the aim of the program & ways to achieve that aim·
Providing training to staff (Kamin (2010))·
Implementation of the program by the staff·
Maintain the sustainability of the program by continuously reviewing changes in the preferences of customers·
Provide support staff for resolving complaintsA successful customer service program will reduce customer complaints & increase the loyalty of customers which further leads to higher profitability.
Customer service program
Staff should be trained that they should focus on customer needs first (Greensland Government (2000)) & resolving their queries & complaints properly. They should create image in the minds of customers that they are very important for the business. It is necessary that staff must have positive attitude towards customers, they should be well trained & should do it with pleasure. He should also make continuous improvements in their attitude & behavior which may attract more & more customers. (Impact Learning systems (2009))
Systems and processes
The system & processes used in the business should be efficient as if buyer gets frustrated with the system there may be (Dale Carnergie Training (2015))chances that we may lose that customer. Following are the steps to be followed to improve system:
The standards of providing customer service must be recorded & compared with business objectives
Regular rewards & special offers for customers for their loyalty
Maintain customer database
Record feedbacks from customers
Frame a customer complaint policy
Training program for employees
Ensure right front line staff
Staff must be provided opportunity to give their recommendations and suggestions whenever they feel to give
Ensure implementation of good service program for customers
It can be concluded from above report that there is a continuous need to provide training to staff so that they could provide their best to customers. There is a need to understand customer needs properly on which customer service program shall be based. Communication also plays an important role in maintaining good relations with the customers especially in hospitality industry.in order to maintain customers loyalty there requirements must be understood, services must be provided beyond their expectations & resolving their complaints quickly.
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