Customer Service: A Manager's Role
A Manager's Role in Customer Service
From an experience point of view, customer service in the hotel industry is anybody's job. As a junior manager, my role was to lead my team to ensure our customer first culture was being implemented and put into practice as well as respond to queries from customers. A hotel's customer first approach, usually follows a chain of command. As a line manager, when dealing with customer complaints and queries, there are certain things that I did not have authority over. Thus, I have to refer the customer to a manager of higher status than me; it goes on up the ladder until the problem is solved amicably with the customer.
Line Managers' roles are very important, as we are the ones that report or give feedback to the top management and suggest what training courses are needed by our teams. We gather our information from observing, coaching and counseling our team members.
As you can see, managers' roles are vital when it comes to customer service.
Following are roles and and responsibilities of managers in the hospitality industry. Every organization's customer first culture is different.
1. Training And Development
As I have mentioned above, line managers are the ones that come into contact with customers in the hotel, every day. Being a line manager and having had first hand experience on this, I must admit that Training and Development is an important role of management in the hotel industry. Our teams must be trained and developed into our customer first culture. As a frontline manager, my role was to observe my team and identify which area of customer service they lack and recommend them for further training.
One particular system for developing our team was a system called "Buddy System". While observing our team at work and we identify that a certain staff lacks some customer service skills, we "Buddy" him with a staff that is good in that particular area of customer service so that the other staff can learn from him.
For example; Joe and Blow are two members of my team. Joe is a very talented customer relations officer and is doing really well. Customers had good feedback on him and have always commented about his service. Blow, on the other hand lacks proper customer service skills and a lot of customers had their fair bit of say about his skills. As a manager, one has to take action. Joe and Blow do now work on the same shift but we have to make a switch. Rotate the team and bring Joe and Blow in for some counseling and put them to work on the same shift. Blow had to be with Joe and observe him and learn from him. They are given a time frame to work on that and if Blow does not improve, then something seriously is not right and management needs to look at it as a matter of urgency.
2. Leading and Organising
Every time when a team is starting a shift, the manager must get his team together for a shirt briefing. It's during this briefing that the manager spills out the team's objectives for the shift and the team comes up with an action plan to achieve their shift objectives. According to the action plan, the manager delegates tasks and organizes his team to achieve those objectives. Having experienced this first hand, in order for the team to achieve its objectives, the manager must strategically lead and organize his team, depending on statistics and follow ups provided by the previous shift. Thus communication is vital in this area.
Once the tasks are delegated and team is organized, the manager must constantly check progress to ensure that the action plan is being followed by the team. It is the manager's prerogative to change the action plan depending on circumstances and reorganize his team to ensure they achieve objectives.
From experience, it is quite a demanding job, being a manager in a customer service industry, especially, a 100 rooms hotel. You have to be consistent day in day out in order to for your team to be successful in providing service that is up to the standards of the hotel. At the end of the shift, as line manager, you are required to compile your report on how the shift ended to top management. That is your feedback that managment is going to act on to make plans and decisions.
Leading and organising is very vital in the customer service industry as I have stated above. One must be up to the challenge of meeting customer demands and needs. This is to ensure that the company's customer first culture is implemented and that customers happy.
A happy customer is a returning customer!
Customer Service Survey
If you a Customer Service Manager, How would you improve your employees customer service skills?
Importance of Training and Development
Every hotel adapts a customer first approach to ensure that they stay in business and the hotel that I have worked for is no exception. It had a standard customer first culture and every employee is inducted into this culture. That is where training and development comes in handy.
All employees must be trained and developed. That is a must if a hotel wants it's customer first culture to be efficient. Thus, training and development are vital. Although, providing training for staff is expensive and time consuming, hotels see that from another perspective. They see it as investment. They invest in their human resources who are valuable assets to the company's success. Hotels put a lot of time and money into developing their human resource.
Training and development prepares employees in taking on the challenges of customer service. Being a customer service person myself, I've attended a lot customer service trainings and they had developed my skills and had brought me to where I am today.
All in all, Training and Development is of paramount importance in developing the customer service skills of employees. It moulds, develops and prepares employees for the challenges thrown at them by customers.
Benefits of Customer Service Training
In the hotel industry, ,managers are aware of the benefits of Customer service training. Thus they invest alot in training their staff. For the particular hotel that I worked for, training was carried out on a monthly basis. Sometimes trainings are in modules. You have to complete all modules to qualify for next stage in your training. Alot of time is spent but the benefits are massive.
Once trained and they have the skills to provide best customer service, employees go the extra mile for customers and the hotel. Customers are satisfied with the service, they are happy, thus every body is happy. It brings about a win-win sitution. Happy and satified customers are loyal customers. Loyal customers bring in business to the company and increasing sales and revenue. When revenue and sales increases, the company thrives and we have motivated staff who do not just come to work, but have a purpose to come to work.
As a matter of fact, hotels pride themselves on service. They boast about the facilities they have and the type of service they provide that is most of the time termed "unparallelled". A hotel can have all the 5 star facilities but if service is not up to standard than it won't be worthwhile. Thus a 5 star product must be parallelled by a 5 star service.
A manager's role is very important and vital to the hotel industry and any other customer service industry for that matter. The manager is the one that decides what is good customer service and what needs to be improved where training and development is concerned. His job is to strategically delegate duties to ensure that the company's objectives and goals are achieved by his team. The company's objectives are achieved, the customer is happy and everyone is happy! That is customer service.