I was off on a week’s holiday with the family in norther Italy near the Austrian border. This was a birthday present my wife had wished for. So, what better way to spend your birthday than to head off for a week to a wonderful place you have never been before? I can’t think of another. But I digress. This is supposed to be about hotels and what makes for good, or better, what makes for excellent service? What makes for an fantastic customer experience? Here is my entry while I was there.
I am at a resort in the hills here and they advertise a particular interest in the well being of their clients, making sure every thing is taken care of. Perhaps, even every wish is fulfilled. Now, how often does a company even try to do that? So, what does it take to achieve that? Of course, how you measure that is also an interesting point as well. But to begin, is it just a point of throwing many bodies at the customer, engulfing them in a constant sea of “caregivers”? Does that make the client feel well taken care of, does it cover all those wishes a customer may have? Probably not. I have been in wonderful hotels in Asia where the number of staff to clients is perhaps almost 1 to 1 or at least it seems that way. But what often is contained or hidden in the smothering effect is the lack of skills or empowerment of the individual members. Yes, there are many players but they just blend into a mass of people, a mass of well-minded caregivers. But what the client is looking for is individual treatment. One which gives the feeling they are almost at home. Even better than home. A home where someone is taking care of them.
So, back to my current experiment. This hotel has 49 rooms and a staff of 44. Seems pretty high, but then the offering is quite broad as well. I am not addressed by name at every corner. I am not visited by the evening staff looking to turn down my sheets (who does that at home anyway?).
What makes the difference?
I have sat with this post for a few weeks since we were at this hotel. I have come to the conclusion that there is one item which more than all the others makes the experience both rememberable and remarkable, it is constancy. If the first impression is 4 stars then that feeling must be maintained throughout. That may be a tall order for some but I noticed this during this trip. When later in the week the service changed during breakfast it was noticed by everyone in my family, even the kids. Sitting at the pool looking at my kids trying to figure out how to turn on the heating for the chairs (yes, a real problem) no one came to their help. But at many other parts of the complex there was always an attentive eye to the clients wishes and needs. These were not one time experiences but collected throughout. Overall it was an excellent experience but was it fantastic? Was it remarkable? What will I tell my friends of it?
It is little value shining once then delivering good or really good service. What will be remembered is that it was not consistent. That seems to me to be the key. Companies need to know what is their level of service they can maintain. What is that level of expectation they can repeat over and over? Once that has been identified and determined then delivering a repeatable experience is the target and should be achievable. This is what I think will be remembered.