Usman Ghani (September 20, 2013)
UAE, the name itself strikes exotic images of palm trees, beaches and luxurious hotels serving nothing but simply the best of everything to you. Why, you might be wondering is UAE associated with the best customer service when it comes to the Hoteling Industry? Why is everyone so keen on visiting UAE once to see the exotic hotels and the personal care they provide? Why do people always have the best things to say about the hotels, resorts and restaurants? What are they doing to make everyone go crazy over them? Well the answer to these endless Why’s is just two words; Customer Service!
Customer Service alone is the reason why UAE is budding with over 1000 hotels currently and still planning on making much more by the end of 2013. When experts in the field of customer service say, “Customer Service is the back bone of Hoteling Industry”
Emiratis, believe them and work on making sure that this particular back bone stays strong and stays strong for years to come without even bending once. Customer service has many definitions according to a lot of sources but the most common agreed upon is, “Customer service is the provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase”
Which clearly means that helping a customer when they walk in, while they are browsing and even after they have purchased any product or service from you would mean customer service. Some even define it as, “…the practice of delivering products and services to both internal and external customers via the efforts of employees or through the provision of an appropriate services cape”
According to American national Ron Kaufman, who is also the author of New York Times bestseller ‘Uplifting Service – The Proven Path to Delighting Your Customers, Colleagues, and Everyone Else’
“Building a service culture requires commitment to longer-term investment – and not just financial investment. It requires concern, creativity, support and recognition.”
He strongly believes that training the staff is not the only important thing; the organization has to teach the staff so that “they can figure out what to do” when the occasion arises. Keeping that in mind I have seen a recent conflict between customer service standards in UAE; as shocking as the difference was it was quiet understandable as well.
We all know UAE has some of the best International Hotel chains from around the world, Ritz Carlton, Fairmont, Taj, Hyatt, Hilton and many more. Now naturally the customer service level would be the best and nothing less than the best will be accepted. These International chains have a standard to maintain all across the globe, having any one region affected would simply mean suicide for the brand itself. So without a doubt these International chains have the best of the best employees hired who are trained specifically to the needs of the customers. That is why people leave with memories to last them a long time and they often end up recommending the particular hotel to their friends and family.
Jessica Jones, a regular Fairmont Abu Dhabi customer says, “Fairmont Abu Dhabi, which is a dream come true cannot top their customer service level at the moment. It’s the best in the world; everything you dream of is already there. You cannot ask for more.”
Similarly, other regular and first time customers had the same opinions, “Our second trip to this wonderful hotel this year, both times we had gold floor suites, absolutely excellent – very comfortable, very quiet. The staff were great, the level of service fantastic – nothing was too much trouble” said Mr Henry from London.
Mr. Christopher another first time customer at Fairmont was very happy with service and said “I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at Fairmont the Palm and I can recommend staying at this hotel. Thanks to all the friendly staff.”
This shows us that these International chains do more than just provide luxurious amenities to their customers. They step out of their way to train their employees in such a way that every employee knows what to do and when is the right time. For instance, the minute a customer steps through the hotel doors they are greeted with a smile, maybe a garland of flowers is presented with drinks to cool them off, the customary routine that every hotel has. But what if the customers are greeted with their name and are asked if their trip was comfortable or not, employee hands over his name card and says he can be called any time for anything the customer might need. This in actual words would be customer service and your employee would be making sure that the customer comes again the second time round to choose your particular place. Customer service begins when you have trained your employees to perfection and have laced them up with all the tools to deal with every kind of customer.
Now as compared to International chains the local hotel chains had a much different review from people. Have a look Col Bass says “Customer service does not exist in this country!”
Maria Lynne Scandizzo says: “The biggest problem here is that when people don’t know the answer or don’t understand they just say, no! They rarely offer service at all.”
Jhun Cruz says “A lack of training is the cause of it all. Subjecting staff to training is non-existent in this part of the world.”
All this points to the fact that money is spent on making the place beautiful, providing amenities but no attention is given to the people that are hired. After all to make these wonderful services work in your customers favor the hotel would need employees with the best behavior and instinct skills. Hiring people who just work for money and who do not want to improve for themselves or for others means hiring robots. This results in all the negative publicity for the local hotels and other places. There must be something that these international chains are doing to make sure their employees are the prime examples or customer service.
The secret itself is so simple that people once learned about it were astonished across UAE, the magic word that did the trick was “Training”.
Start of 2012 alone had a massive growth in hotel revenue; about five million people were customers to the Hospitlity sector in UAE. They brought in a total of Dh9.7 bn in the start of the year and the number is to double by the end of 2013. With this flow of customers you are bound to make a lasting impression on anyone that would walk through the doors of your hotel. So what should you do to make sure that this first impression lasts till their next trip? Simple; hire Training Management.
Training Management is a set of people that deal only with the Hospitality Sector to be precise. They are individuals who have years of experience on hand and they belong to different departments of this sector. Some of the departments which are unknown to your customers and at times Hotel Management seem to overlook are Accommodation (Single, Double, Superior, Deluxe, Corner Suite King, Executive, Grand Executive, Pent & Adjoining), Restaurants & Bars,Travel & Tourism, Recreational Facilities (Spa, Gym, Parlor, Libraries, Offices, Pools, (Golf, Badminton, tennis) Courts. To an inexperienced person all these might be inter related departments but that is not the case. All these departments require a different set of people to handle them; no two departments can shuffle employees around to manage the word load.
The Training Management sets up training schedules throughout the course period and makes sure that every employee knows how to behave best, what to say, when to take an initiative and what to know about the customer. This not only increases the level of customer service but also makes sure that all your employees are on the same level of customer standards. The Training Management can be hired as a whole or individuals from across the globe can be hired in the relevant departments to make enhance the standards of customer service.
keeping in mind the growing market of Hospitality courses ranging from Level 1 to 5 in different departments are now available by the Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing which is directly under the Government of Dubai. They have defined a set of objectives and goals to make sure that “Dubai’s tourism industry continues its world-class development with world-class people involved at all levels”
1: Develop highly qualified Human Resources that is able to cope up and adapt smoothly with the cycle of improvement and progress.
2: Develop institutional culture focusing on reinforcement of customer services concept.
3: Develop healthy and innovative working environment.
4: Motivating and Initiating the Employees Via different programs and schemes.
(a) E- Suggestions System
(b) HAWAFEZ Scheme
(c) Emtiaz Program
(d) The Human Resources
Certain revisions are required in order to make the hospitality sector the best in the world. No doubt that the standard of customer service at the moment is commendable but in order for it to be the best and uniform across UAE some things have to change.
In this age of technology using the simple means of pen and paper are not required any more. Internet is the tool that hostels across UAE have to use to their advantage, and categorizing it further social media is the ultimate weapon in this war of CS. People are always using social apps and websites through their phones or tabs; you can use this particular piece of information to your advantage. Engage your customers online in a survey through social media or have a competition online to give them free access to amenities in your hotel. Customers would flood in to leave their feedback and would love to try your place to make sure they win something for free.
Ask them to leave in a review on one of your website or write up a testimonial; in return you can give them a souvenir to remember you by.
It means being available for your customers round the clock both online and onsite. Not only would your customers know that they can walk up to you anytime through any media but they would also feel welcomed by you. Reply back to them the first spare moment you have and try to help them as much as possible. Not only would you be securing your place in their hearts but would also be securing potential future customers.
The word which every customer loves and every industry hates more than anything. Customers love to criticize and complain about itsy bitsy things that they might find wrong. Your job is to handle it well and handle it properly with a brave face, remember the complaining part is really easy but what wins you your customer’s heart is how concerned you are with the complaint. If you make your customer feel unwelcomed and that their complaint is an added nuisance you can say good bye to business. But if you step out of your way to make sure that the complaint is resolved first thing first the customer is going to fall in love with you. They are going to mention this everywhere they can and that would mean free publicity.
There is no doubt about the level of customer service standards Hospitality sector is setting across UAE. With both the International and the local chains trying their best to work on not just the look and amenities but the service itself is amazing. Owners of small hotels are growing more aware on how and what to do to rise up to the given mark. They are working more in favor with the training management to make sure that every employee hired knows and recognizes the standard he/she would have to maintain. This raises the hope for this industry, as the back bone, fuel and the core ingredient is Customer Service.
By the end of 2013 a huge impact on customer service is predicted and I strongly believe that it will be a good impact for all two stars to five star hotels. Owners and employees both are recognizing that “The customers are the heart of their business”. The stronger the heart beats and is kept safe the better the organization will run and improve business. Already 14% of revenue is generated from this sector alone and it is going to increase even more by the end of 2013. Experts in the field already residing in UAE have predicted 2030 to have the world class infrastructure for The Hospitality Industry.
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