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Pretend to be your own customer

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending”- Maria Robinson


Having recently made a dinner booking at a 5-star hotel managed by a leading International hotel chain, that had just opened; I needed to find out its address. So I went to the hotel’s website. I thought I could find the address within three or four clicks, but that didn’t happen; not until I clicked away furiously and scrolled page after page… to eventually find what I was looking for.


It kind of made me wonder. A lot of time is dedicated to writing the information hoteliers think are relevant to their hotel. They invest in design to make it easier for their customers to find the answers they (hoteliers) think customers are looking for…and yet, you feel it is a waste of time when you cannot find their property address in a jiffy.


As I said, my query was “where is the hotel and how do I get there in my car?” Done properly, good hotel website content should cover all of its guests’ most vital questions. If not, (and as I was forced to do), they’ll open a new tab and begin Google around to find answers.


Managers must put themselves in their potential guest’s shoes and make sure the content on their website speaks to what they want. ‘Walk in other people’s shoes’ is one of six basic principles for quality-oriented service businesses, inspired by Richard Branson.


Every hotel manager you talk to, will say that ensuring guest satisfaction is a top priority. But very few are interested in hearing from their guests – unless they say good things. Some ask their guests, maybe they listen…but most often than not, fail to act or learn on / from what they hear.


The happiness of customers ranks high when it comes to business success – higher than price and product differentiation. We’ve all heard the business phrase, “What gets measured, gets managed.” But how do you measure customer experience (CX) across an entire population? Will a customer satisfaction questionnaire do the job? It doesn’t. CX is not about covering a fragment of the entire customer journey. It requires monitoring a raft of key customer experience metrics to understand ones customers and remove pain points, if wanting to serve them better.


Unfortunately, most hotel operators have limits on time, money and resources. But there is a quicker, inexpensive and better way to measure the customer experience. Pretend to be your own customer. Don’t get stuck on analysing profit and loss statements or comparing budgets versus actual - they don’t tell you what or where the ground realities are, only the revenue lost because of lapse or oversight. Periodically play the part of a first-time customer!


Give an incognito call to your reservations department and experience the exact same scenario as any other ordinary paying customer. What was the response time of the hotel telephone operator?  Request for something out of the ordinary (do-able of course), and check out how long it takes for the hotel staff to resolve the issue. Is the First Response Time (FRT) inordinately long?


FRT is a customer experience metric that can vary quite a bit from one customer support channel to another. For example, if someone sends an email to customer service, they might not get a response for an hour or longer. But a customer who uses live chat and messaging to contact support may expect a reply in a matter of minutes.


Don’t stay on the side-lines; get into ‘the field’… on and off.


Shafeek Wahab – Editor, Hospitality Sri Lanka, Consultant, Trainer, Ex-Hotelier




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