Whether you run a hotel or motel yourself, or just work in the reception in an accommodation business, it is very common to receive complaints now and then. These complaints can be about your facilities, your staff or other things that you don’t feel you should be blamed for. Whatever the complaint is, it is extremely important to address these complaints properly and make sure the guests are happy with the outcome. Otherwise, you may turn guests away, receive bad reviews, or in the worst case, fail to solve existing problems and hold your accommodation business back from profit. In this article, we at Hotel Products Supplies will share 5 steps to effectively address complaints and “empty” your guests’ anger.
- Control your own emotions. When some of the guests’ requirements are not satisfied, they will normally make a complaint during their stay or at check-out, and these are usually not done in the most friendly way. It is very easy to get emotional hearing such complaints, especially if you own the hotel or motel yourself or the complaint refers to something you yourself did. However, we have to remember that most of the time, our guests are complaining for some valid reason. Therefore, the first thing we need to do is to control our emotions, and not let disappointment, upset or even anger control us. Useful tips that help you control your emotions are:
- Take a deep breath and calm yourself. However, be careful that you don’t sigh when you take a deep breath, otherwise your guest may feel that you are just being impatient.
- Take a few steps back and think from the guests’ perspective. Always keep in mind that these guests have nothing against you even if it feels like this to you.
- Ask for a little bit of extra time for yourself. If you are not very clear on the complaint or need to talk to someone about how to address it, you can tell the customer that you’ll need a few minutes to look into it. In the meantime, you can offer them a magazine your guest to read or even get them some tea or coffee. Of course, make sure you come back promptly!
- Listen to your guests. Once you calm yourself, you should also calm your guest and an effective way of doing this is to listen carefully. Don’t interrupt. In the majority of cases, guests will feel better just by talking about the problem. Also try to understand the emotion behind these complaints. If it seems like there are many reasons for the complaint, figure out the real underlying problem that the guest is not satisfied with and what the intention of the complaint really is.
- Express compassion and understanding and empathise. Your guests may be staying in your hotel for a holiday, so no one is going to like an imperfect stay that he/she has paid for. If we can think from the guests’ perspective, your guests will feel respected and more willing to solve the issue with us. Tips for expressing our empathy are:
- retell the reasons that cause this complaint in your own words and summarise why your guest feels upset. By doing this, your guest will feel that you have listened to him/her and you also feel what he/she feels.
- React to your guests’ emotions. Share with the customers how you feel about their emotions. This could be saying things like “I’m shocked that such a thing happened to you while you stayed with us”.
- Think from the guests’ perspective. Tell them that you’d feel upset too if the same thing happened to you and express your appreciation to them telling you what happened. Emphasise that these complaints help you identify the existing or potential problems of the hotel/motel and these help you improve your service.
- Apologise for the inconvenience. When something goes wrong, it is natural to blame other people. Even if it is the fault of your staff, it is not a good move to blame your staff. Blaming other people only leaves a bad impression on the guests. Apologising is always better than blaming as apologising shows that you are willing to take the blame. Even when you feel that the guests are being unreasonable, you can still apologise for your guest feeling the way they feel. One thing to keep in mind is to never say the word “but”. In general, whatever you say after “but” may well come across as a lame excuse.
- Resolve the issues. The last, but also the most important step, is to resolve the issue properly. This covers two perspectives. One is how to address this particular complaint and the other one is how to learn from the current complaint and take actions to improve your hotel services in the future. A good way is to keep a log book of your guests’ complaints. Write down the reason for the complaints and ways to address them. These can then be discussed in your next staff meeting and ways to improve your service can be figured out. In the future, they can also be used to train your new staff.
Therefore, rather than take it personally, we should see complaints as a way of identifying existing or potential problems for our hotels/motels. Really, we should be thanking our guests for these opportunities to help us improve the quality of our services.