Empathy: the key to customer satisfaction

With all the online communication channels nowadays like review sites and online media, it seems like the walls of the hotels are made of glass and the service they provide is transparent for everyone to see. This is one of the reasons why the hotel industry is focusing more than ever on guest service excellence (How to help staff emphatize with guests, 2015). Empathy is necessary to get satisfied customers. But what does empathy really mean? And how can we apply this in the hotel industry?

Empathy – defined as ‘’identification with and understanding of another’s situation, feelings and motives’’ – is key when it comes to delivering a great customer experience (Understanding The Role Of Empathy In The Customer Experience, 2013). In other terms: you need to know how your customers feel in order to react in the right way and provide the customer with everything they wish for.

To show an example of a hotel with excellent customer service, we take a look at Hotel lebua in Bangkok. According to Deepak Ohri (Chief Executive Officer, lebua Hotels & Resorts) satisfaction is in the emotional connection guests have with the hotel and service. The staff of lebua Hotel is trained to connect with guests on an emotional level and meet their needs and preferences. ‘’We design services to show guests we understand and care about their needs’’ (Ohri, 2013).

Most travelers spend over 24 hours traveling to Thailand and are exhausted when they finally arrive at the airport. lebua Hotel offers a Welcome Escort who meets guests at the airport, helps carrying their luggage and escorts them to the hotel by a car filled with healthy drinks and food. They make sure the customer feels treated and welcome from the minute they arrive in the country (Ohri, 2013).

Mister Ohri claims that businesses must invest into a deeper level of service. You have to concentrate on receiving an emotional response from your guest in order to be successful on the long term. According to the neuroscientist Antonio Damasio: ‘’We are not thinking machines. We are feeling machines that think.’’ (Batchelor, 2012).

Developing an emotional bond with your customer differentiates a hotel from their competitors and helps to create a deep relationship between the business and the consumer. Empathy can be seen as the fundamental part of customer engagement management. If you, as a business, can put yourself in your customer’s shoes and react to their wishes and preferences you can truly make a difference. Because there is nothing more powerful than an unexpected gesture (Goh, 2015).


Batchelor, A. (2012). We are feeling machines that think.

Goh, G. (2015, Februari 20). Empathy: The Must-Have Skill For All Customer Service Reps. Opgeroepen op September 25, 2016, van RAMP: http://www.insightsquared.com/2015/02/empathy-the-must-have-skill-for-all-customer-service-reps/

How to help staff emphatize with guests. (2015, April 20). Opgeroepen op September 25, 2016, van HotelNewsNow: http://www.hotelnewsnow.com/Articles/25798/How-to-help-staff-empathize-with-guests

Ohri, D. (2013). Service: An Emotional Connection. Opgeroepen op September 25, 2016, van HBR Hotel Business Review: http://hotelexecutive.com/business_review/3493/service-an-emotional-connection

Understanding The Role Of Empathy In The Customer Experience. (2013, September 24). Opgeroepen op September 22, 2016, van CMO: http://www.cmo.com/opinion/articles/2013/9/24/understanding_the_ro.html#gs.0R2t8SA



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