Dealing with guests directly can sometimes be challenging, especially if they are unhappy. But, gaining a general understanding of how people think and act can make you more effective when responding to unhappy guests. Although every guest is unique in terms of character, personal experiences, values and beliefs, there are general psychologically-based tactics that could be applied when interacting with guests to improve the outcome.
It has been proven that guests will pay more to receive better guest service and to feel more valued. To provide guests with memorable experiences, hotels should work to improve every guest touchpoint to make them feel appreciated. This will yield a positive perception and make them more likely to return, even at higher prices.
Personal attention is key to improve guest service. When they’re upset, guests want to talk with a human being, not a company. So, when addressing the guest via email, personalize that communication and include your name, not just the company’s or a department’s. The same goes with face-to-face interactions. Always introduce yourself by name and with a positive, energetic demeanor as first impressions matter greatly. In fact, when a positive initial impression is made, the recipient is more likely to perceive everything else you do or say in a positive manner. This is a psychological phenomenon called the halo effect.
Dealing with angry guests is difficult and in many situations it’s instinctive to go into defensive mode. But when dealing with dissatisfied guests, a defensive tone will never be effective in resolving an issue. Instead, adopt an active listening approach that will fare better in these delicate situations. Try to determine the why behind their anger to get to the root of the problem and put yourself in their shoes. Empathy will go a long way to turn an angry guest into a satisfied one.
Keep your replies to guests, whether verbal or written, positive by removing any negative phrases or tone and employing a more encouraging one. Avoid phrases like “I don’t Know. You’ll have to call another department.” Instead, say “I’m not sure, but I can gladly find out for you.” This small touch can make a big impact.
Apologizing does not mean you are at fault. According to a study at Arizona State University’s Carey School of Business, 37% of customers were satisfied with service recovery when they were offered something of monetary value like a refund or credit. But when the business included an apology on top of the compensation, satisfaction doubled to 74%. Providing an apology means you are empathetic to the situation, and care about what they have to say.
Applying psychology principles to guest service is based on understanding the wants and needs of the guest with the intention of making them feel valued. This means adopting strategies like personalized service, active listening, empathy and a positive tone to make the guest feel understood and important.