Making it count – Kate Bickford talks about excellent customer service

Kate is the Managing Director of BK Agency. She has extensive experience in hospitality and tourism and has worked in multi-faceted areas with years of experience across cafes, restaurants, hotels and the travel industry. She has assisted with the establishment and operations of restaurants and has worked across various roles as well as holding extensive skills in management and events experiences. Kate is a business management professional who is passionate about the Hospitality and Tourism industries.

Here are Kate’s tips on how to deliver excellent customer service 

Every venue owner and operator in a hospitality or tourism business knows that excellent customer service is crucial to running a customer-focused company. Many businesses manage customer service and the customer expectation well, some not always, and some could use a polish up. It is undoubtedly one of the hardest things to get consistently right and requires constant training, upskilling, and time invested in your people together with decisive leadership from management.

But what is often not taken into consideration is that customer service should and does extend far beyond what happens in your venue. The customer service experience is in every interaction with a potential guest, and at every touch point where you can add that extra level of service for your guests.

Customer service starts when someone first decides to come to your venue, continues while they are in your venue, and remains in the follow up after they leave.

Before they arrive:

Customer service is crucial to get the guests into your venue. That can be through how you interact with them on social media, how you are marketing your venue, and how easy it is to book your venue. This means having an interactive website that is easy to navigate and which has your most recent menus and opening hours on it. It also means being active on your social media pages and not letting them sit idle for weeks on end.Another crucial point of customer service is phone contact with guests. You’re busy, we get it, but training your staff to always answer the phone in a non-hurried and professional manner is so important. They should always make sure they take the time to talk to the customer and give them all the details required. Rushing people off the phone because you are busy can leave a bad taste in their mouth even before they arrive.

In your venue:

Greeting guests on arrival with a smile and a hello, even if you are running past with a pile of plates, can completely transform their dining experience. If you are on the phone with a customer, always look up and acknowledge a guest in your venue with a friendly smile and or a nod. Acknowledgement can often be enough. Be attentive to your guests and always thank them when they leave. A simple thank you can go a long way, and remember always to treat your guests like you would like to be treated.

After they have left:

In the digital age that we live in, online reviews about a restaurant, accommodation, or a tour experience are commonplace. This a great chance to connect with your guests after they have left, engaging with positive feedback and seeing if they would be happy to join your mailing list, or just an opportunity to thank them for their input.

​And on the same token, it’s important to be able to handle negative feedback as well. Both for the good and the bad, you need to have systems and policy in place to deal with these type of matters.

Customer service is critical throughout the life cycle of any interaction in the business. From the time the customer first makes contact to their last connection is a prime opportunity to enhance the overall guest experience, and hopefully encourage repeat business.

This article first appeared on the BK Agency Blog.

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