More than any other business, the hotel industry markets itself to the individualized needs of their clients. It is one of the few industries that are attuned to adequate customer experience, which determines how well a particular hotel adapts and survives the crowded market. While most hotels focus on providing extraordinary getaways for their customers, there will be a few customers expressing grave dissatisfaction. Sometimes it is even tempting to write off such customers, but it has never been good for business. As such, conflict resolution as a hotel manager is one of the tricks that will bridge this dangerous gap. It is not all about having excellent management skills but rather having a good plan and some background training on how to resolve conflicts at the workplace. Some of the strategies to employ include:
By the time an issue goes to the status of a conflict, the customer is already agitated. In any case, customers don’t have the habit of complaining unless they feel compelled to. If an issue is negligible, they will go about their business without minding some of the trivial matters. To the extent of reporting an issue, however, a customer has reacted emotionally to the situation, and this can be dangerous because emotions drive people out of control. Moreover, when a client approaches an employee with raged emotions, the employee is also likely to respond defensively, which exacerbates the issue at hand.
Before reacting in any manner, therefore, it is important to stay calm as you contemplate the matter. Staying collected is something inevitable especially in a large hotel where you are selling customer satisfaction. The first response will determine if and how well the conflict will be resolved. A calm approach is more likely to resolve the conflict, but be careful not to appear as if you are taking the matter trivially. Express some concern but in a calm manner.
Listening is key
Employees will tend to shut down an upset customer, which further aggravates the situation. As a manager, however, all you have to do is listen. Some clients will have issues in their lives which they extend to various environments, and the best they need is someone to listen to them. In any case, a customer is justified for his or her feelings because they are paying to get the best. As a manager, you perhaps understand why hotels are grouped in the hospitality industry.
Leave your frame of reference and enter the client’s. Pride is counterproductive in such a situation, so listen and validate the customers’ issues such that they don’t stay in the heightened emotional state.
Find out the facts
Whereas listening to the customer is very crucial, taking their word as the absolute truth is a desperate show of partial blindness and absence of leadership skills. Remember, you also need the employees to realize the customer satisfaction goals. Get factual information by asking calm and open-ended questions which elicit more information.
Sometimes it may require additional information before the conflict is fully settled. Talk to relevant parties regarding the situation. These could be other employees or other guests, who will help you find out where the problem is. With factual information, you will then find a probable course of action that is just to the customers and staff alike.
Enlist different sources of help
Sitting on a management position does not mean that you take every professional burden as your own. Different employees and stakeholders have different capabilities in handling particular situations. Delegative leadership is sometimes recommended, so seek help when there is need. In case a customer has been upset by one or more of the employees, you can opt to call in some help from other management figures. Sit and find out whether it is more rational to involve the employee in question. While it is bound to aggravate the situation in most cases, sometimes the best thing to do is to talk to all the parties involved before a conflict is fully settled. If you must involve an outside party to resolve the matter, it is worth your time and money. Conflict resolution gurus are sometimes called in to educate employees on strategies to solving conflicts within the workplace.
Brainstorm possible solutions and negotiate a way out
Once you have gathered all the background information regarding a particular conflict, the next quick step is to stop the issue and give it a lasting solution before it ruins the reputation of a trendy hotel. It pays well when the people involved put a fair contribution to the generation of a lasting solution. As a manager, you must be open to all ideas generated and remain keen to note whether there is absolute objectivity. Whereas customers are mostly right, you must not necessarily tolerate it if he or she has personal issues against particular employees.
To the point of resolving the conflict, all parties must understand the position taken. If it involves the management, you should be open to receive whatever resolution that will be reached. If your position is bound to affect the outcome of the process, it is more reasonable to involve other parties. A win-win situation works to the satisfaction of both parties, so be keen not to please one person while offending the other.
Make a follow-up
Once the issue has been settled and the client has left, a number of hotels tend to leave the confrontation at that. However, this is not healthy because a customer may choose to leave not because he or she is pleased with the solution but because he has seen it wise to let the matter rest. To prevent such dissatisfaction from spilling over, make a follow-up by keeping contact with the customer. People feel valued when you personally follow them up to know how satisfied they feel.
Find the customer through email, phone or any other form of contact to express your regret for the issue that arose. If it is relevant and in line with the hotel’s policies, this is also the point where you can introduce some special deals and bargains to encourage the customer.
Review the issue
It is very easy for a hotel to assume that all irate customers are acting irrationally. Upon a closer look, the customer may have been right in complaining about a particular meal, service or employee. This is not to imply that all complaints are valid, but it should provide some insight into different customer experiences. Use the opportunity to review the issue once the customer is gone and determine whether there are any changes which can be made to improve customer satisfaction.
In summary, different customers may have various complaints regarding hotel services, but they can all be resolved to the satisfaction of both parties when the management is purposefully and fully prepared. Follow some of these proven tips and hotel management will be ABC easy for you.