Introduction to Customer Service
Customer service is defined as service to customers. Customers are not only served at the time of purchase, rather they are served before and after the purchase also. In the words of Turban et. al (2002), customer service includes various activities which are formulated to deliver higher level of satisfaction to the customers. If the customer is thoroughly satisfied, it means the service or product delivered to the customers has met the expectation level of the customer. In case of hospitality industry, the concept of customer service has gained lot of importance because hospitality industry deals with offering hospitality to the customers and thus it requires human touch (Torres and Kline, 2013).
The present report will throw light on various policies related to customer services in the context of a hotel Holiday Inn Express London Swiss Cottage. It will also discuss why it is important for all the organizations, more particularly operating in hospitality sector to promote a customer centric culture. Last section of the work will deal with the expectations of the customers from the service providers.
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Task 1: Customer service policies within business and services contexts
1.1: Customer service policy within Holiday Inn Express London Swiss Cottage
Like all other hotels, Holiday Inn Express London Swiss Cottage has also developed some customer services policies for its staff and it is mandatory for each staff member to adhere to those policies. The main customer service policies formulated by the hotel are:
- All the staff members have to treat all customers with courtesy and respect, irrespective of their cast, color or country.
- It is mandatory for the staff to listen to all the complains of the clients
- Whenever possible, the hotel employees need to provide customized services to some of the clients as per the situation demands (Chen and et. al., 2013).
- The service must be prompt, that is, whatever is asked by the client, the staff must be ready with that. In addition to this, if there are certain changes in the services, all must be communicated to the customers with proper reason behind it.
- It is responsibility of every staff member to respond efficiently and effectively to all enquires of their customers.
- Moreover, staff members must consult the likes and dislikes of the customers and must act accordingly (Chen and et. al., 2008).
- To maintain safe, clean, healthy and hygienic environment in the hotel and nearby places for the clients and fellow workers
- To dress in proper attire, that is, if certain dress code is given, staff must follow it and they must wear their ID badges so that clients can easily recognized them.
Above stated are some of the most important customer service policies followed by the Holiday Inn Express London Swiss Cottage. It is very important for all the staff members to stick to the customer service policies. Here are some of the reasons which will make it clear that why it is important for the staff members to follow the customer service policies laid by the hotel management:
Firstly, it will enable the staff to deliver high class services to the customers. if the hotel staff will follow all the policies formulated by the hotel in regards to customer service, staff members will have adequate information regard the clients and as per their likes and dislikes they will be able to provide hospitality. For example, following the policies will enable the kitchen staff to have complete knowledge regarding his eating habits (Jones and Dent, 1994). Thus, he can prepare dishes according to the taste of the customers and thus can deliver better satisfaction level. Secondly, prompt service deliver with quality will enhance the brand image of the hotel. The existing services users will recommend the hotel to their friends and family members thus hotel can attract more customers. Finally, it will help the hotel in retaining its loyal customers.
1.2: Evaluation of customer service policy
Like all other organizations, Holiday Inn Express London Swiss Cottage also evaluates its customer service policies from time to time. It is very essential for the hotel to frequently evaluate its customer service policies as so as to determine whether customers are satisfied with the current customer service policies or not. In case, if the customers are not satisfied with the existing customer policies of the hole, the hotel can take timely measure to bring improvement in its customer service.
Changing policies will ensure that organization is committed to deliver high level of satisfactions to the customers (Ford and et. al., 2011). Thus, by doing this, it will not lose its customers and in addition to this, its improved customer service quality will attract more potential customers towards it.
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Task 2: The purpose of promoting a customer focused culture
2.1: Communication methods
Various styles of communication are used by the hotel Holiday Inn Express London Swiss Cottage for communicating with the customers and fellow staff within and outside the organization. The most common form of communication practiced by the staff is verbal communication. All the guests are communicated verbally regarding various facilities that are available in the hotel. Since in hotel business, customer can be from different country and there can be an issue of language barrier.
To overcome from this issue, the hotel management hire such staff which are polyglot so that they can effectively listen, understand and communicate with the customers. in addition to this, hotel also takes help from various sign boards to overcome from the problem of language barriers (McKinney, 2002). The management has placed various sign boards at many locations so that even if customers are not able to understand the language, they can be made understand through these sign boards. Apart from this, for blind customers with language barrier, the hotel developed its customer service policies and booklet regarding all the facilities provided by them in Braille writing.
All these communication methods show that hotel has adopted various communication methods to communicate effectively with the customers within the organization. Similarly, for communicating with the customer external to the hotel, management takes help of mails, telephone calls, social networking websites, etc. Through these platforms they remain in contact with the customers. They frequently mail customers regarding add on in their services or regarding some offer. In addition to remain in contact with the customers, hotel management occasionally calls the customers o some special occasions (O’Fallon and Rutherford, 2010). All these communication tactics shows that management is committed to create customer centric culture in the hotel. It will retain the existing customers, attract more and more new customers and will enhance the brand name and brand image of the hotel in the market.
2.2: Customer perception and customer service
The perception of the customers gets influenced by two thing, firstly, from their own experience and secondly, on the experience of their friends and relatives. In the hotel industry, customer perception is highly influenced by the quality of customer service provided by the staff to the customers. for example, customers expect that at the time of their arrival, they must be greeted properly by the hotel staff and the person sitting at the reception (Enz, 2010). If the hotel is able to do that, customer perceives that hotel is committed to deliver quality customer services. On the other hand, if the hotel staff do not show any kind of enthusiasm on the arrival of the guest, customer perceives that staff is not motivated enough to provide best possible services.
Same happens at the time of serving food to the customers. If the hotel staff and management is committed to provide greater satisfaction to the customers, they will collect all the required information regarding the likes and dislikes of the customers. When the kitchen staff will be aware of the eating habits of the customer, it will prepare all the dishes as per the like and taste of the customers (Bardi, 2011). This will also enhance the satisfaction level of the customers and they will perceive that the culture in the organization is customer centric and not management centric. Contrary to this, if the food served by the hotel will not be as per the likes and taste of the customers, it will create negative perceptions in the minds of its customers that hotel is not committed to deliver better services or hotel does not promote customer centric culture.
It will dilute the image of the hotel in the minds of its customers and the hotel many eventually lose the customers. the hotel will not only lose one customer, but all the friends and relatives of that particular hotel will also not like to go to that hotel and it will result in great loss for the organization (Labben and et. al., 2003). Thus, from the above discussion it can be said that customer perception is highly influenced by the quality of customer service provided by the organization. If customer service will be of high quality, customer’s perceptions will be positive and vice versa.
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3.1 Sources of information on customer requirements and satisfaction levels
It has been no secret that the customer satisfaction directly reflects the brand loyalty and many other things. Hospitality industry consists of the several sources of the information and some of the popular are media, customers, and information services, internet, journals and many more things that are related to the hospitality industry (Cole, 2003). Some of the other sources are-
Customer feedback form- It has been recognized as one of the best tools in gaining the customer requirement and it is the entailment of customer feedback form which is also called as the direct and primary sources of the gaining responses from all the services who taken the services of the hospitality industry. It helps the organization in taking the quick decisions so that proper environment can be created for them.
Information from staff- There are many times when the people in the hospitality industry leaves their messages to the staff instead of providing them to the particular organization. It will help the organization to gain the proper insights.
Media- It is one of the very strong factors that are involved as during many instances in a day. Using the TV and other sources of the communication that will help the company to get the information regarding the important updates that are going on in the market. Information obtains from this sources are regarded as the secondary sources of information (Powers and Borrows, 2005).
Customer Records- It is another source of the information in which the company can look at the old record of the guests to know that in what field’s organization is weak and what they can do to overcome all those weaknesses. It helps the organizations in involving the steps which acts as a deviation and hamper the complete satisfaction level of the guest.
3.2 Research on customer requirements and satisfaction levels
For this particular portion, Ambassador Hotel is taken into account so that proper information regarding the customer requirement and the satisfaction levels of the particular hotel can be known. Main focus of the research is the primary and it is highly entailed in this particular organization to get the information in this particular subject. People who were involved are waiter, room service, managerial staff, bell boy and the total sample included of the 30 people. Other than these 50 customers of the hotel were also surveyed by using a questionnaire so that proper information can be gained. Aspects that were obtained are-
- It was analyzed that the ambience of the hotel in the inner parts were not as great and it has been one of the most disturbing feature of the organization.
- Laundry services of the hotel are also very poor and they take lots of time to do the service.
- Cuisine of the Hotel was also very poor as there are very limited dishes and also no Indian taste is found in the food.
- Services of waiters are also very poor As compared to other hotels in the Bar which hinders the attraction level of the Company.
Company can make the following changes-
- Company can renovate their interior structure including lobby and waiting area by adding some f the sculptures and modern facilities. They can call different designers to make this thing better.
- Company can update their laundry machinery so that service can be done quickly and in the most effective way (Angoujard, 2005).
- New dishes can be introduced in the restaurant of the hotel by employing some good Indian Chef. Also chefs from different countries can be advised to include new dishes that can attract the customers.
- Staff of the Bar in the hotel can be given proper training so that they can improve their services and make this the strong point of Hotel.
- Company can also give those proper bonuses and other benefits so that their motivation levels can be increased and they can work more effectively.
4.1 & 4.2 customer service in a business and service environment and self reflection
Working in one of the best supermarket that is Tesco in a fast food service counter, I was able to communicate very effectively with all the customers. I used to gel up with them and the positive integrations were the best part of my personality. I communicated very effectively and positively with all the customers through calling, face to face interactions and by guiding them properly. I was able to understand and fulfill all the customer requirements at the first instance through my sharp years and good perceptions about the customers of the organization.
However, assumptions on customers from the view point of staff can easily lead to misunderstandings which can ultimately lead to the unsatisfied customers. By understanding this particular concept, I quickly grasped all the benefits of the good communication and that helped me in fulfilling the needs of customers in the most appropriate way. During the course of my work, I also faced many irate customers and handling them is at all easy tasks but by developing the patience and control over myself, I was able to handle them in the limited time and in the most appropriate manner.
Complains from the different customers are the regular part of the organization. There were many complaints given to me so that I can solve them. I did my best to solve all the complains in the best manner by maintaing the interest level of both the company and the customer. I was also very good in showing the effective teamwork as I used to talk to all my colleagues and helped them in their work also.
To improve myself, I would like to increase my communication skills more by improving the vocabulary and learning some specific words to provide assistance to the customers. Sometimes the customers are very demanding and in my service record I face many problems in this case so it will help me to make better relations with the customers which will allow me to solve their problems in the best and effective manner. Other than this, I would also like to develop my time management skills so that I can finish my tasks in the best time and can also save some of the personal time for family and friends.
Hospitality industry is on the rise in UK and all the hotels of the country are very well recognized throughout the world. It is very important for the companies to provide the best customer services so that they can attract more and more customers towards themselves. Many of the hotels are trying hard to improve this and they are taking it as a path of success.
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