The hospitality industry has to deal with contact center management. This used to be the place where multiple phone calls came in, but currently this is a ‘hub’ for organisations to store all their contacts and use different channels to maintain relationships. So, nowadays managing contact has been done via the internet. But what are the differences between physical and virtually in managing contact satisfaction in the hospitality industry?
Managing contact satisfaction is very important by means of the hospitality industry is a service sector and has to be in contact with customers all the time. In the hospitality industry there are two contact moments which is physical and virtual. The most important by online or offline contact satisfaction is to identity the relationship between satisfaction and the final behavior of the guests, which is hard to manage.
Virtual contact satisfaction
Virtual contact satisfaction is creating customer and managing guest satisfaction through online channels. Hotels make use of multiple virtual tools, these are e-mail, chat or social media.
Social media is mainly used to show potential or existing customers quality photos of the hotels rooms and facilities. But, it also provides contact between the guest and organisation, as nowadays people make use of hashtags, check-ins, reviews or chat functions. There are hotels like Mariott which uses Facebook to communicate with their customers and Hyatt and Hilton are using Twitter to as virtual concierge service. Simple one way conversation of “Enjoy your stay”, can improve the contact satisfaction. (Time, 2016)
Nevertheless, although it is very convenient to use social media to communicate with customers it can also be seen as unprofessional, expensive and time consuming. Ones a company starts to use social media as a contact satisfaction tool, it is responsible to react on (most) of the comments, questions, feedback or complains. Otherwise the hotel does not keep up with competition and can lose potential clients.
Email is still used by many organisations, and is one of the most common tools to manage contact satisfaction. Email comes in handy, as it is quick, because an email is send in seconds, and it is still formal. Moreover, email function can work with an automatic e-mail response and work with forms. Which make it convenient as it is structured and can possibly work with drop down menu’s and background questions to identify the question even better. Also the costs for sending an email are very low. (Peelen & Beltman, 2013)
However, hotels need to keep in consideration that there are possible inconvenient situations. Which makes email as contact satisfactory not pleasant. First situation can be that the send email will occur at the outbound e-mail, so the customer will not be able to read the email. Second, ones an email is not clear or the consumer needs extra explanation, there can be a back and for email conversation. Last is that people do not like to read general information which is not personal.
Another option is the chat, which is not always preferred but used by few hotels. Guest love the chat function as it is quick, interactive, personal and they can formulate their questions briefly. But more important this is informal, so customers can communicate in ‘speaking language’.
But for hotels this is expensive to buy and it costs lots of time as there has to be somebody every minute of the day to answers possible questions.
Physical contact sounds very old fashioned compared to the virtual contact moments. But in contrary, physical contact is all about the customer expectation. For instance, back in the days guest who entered the hotel where happy receiving hallo and a smile. While, currently people want to be satisfied. A satisfied customer can be found by extending a late check-out or a customized menu.
It all starts with delivering the promise you made. As a company you have delivered an image, a feeling, a promise. You as company have to make sure this message/promise is delivered correctly to the guest. Be consistent in what you tell the guest, do not spill details about how luxurious the hotel is if the facilities are not all functioning accordingly.
One of the most important factors about physical contact is let the guests vent. When a customer has a negative experience or a ridiculous question, let them speak. Make it clear for them that they can let their frustrations go to you (so they will not go to someone else). Do not patronize the guest but be helpful and understanding. At the end sum up everything what happened and come up with a plan how to improve the current situation. (Belcher, 2016)
This needs great listening skills, speaking skills and solution skills. Which not every person possesses. Hotels should train their staff to be competent in these skills, not only physical but also virtual as this is very upcoming and required in the hotel industry.