As the result of recent trends in the hospitality industry, hoteliers are enlisting the help of mystery shopping companies to provide a transparent evaluation of service standards. This can help companies identify the current state of their culture and guest experience, so they can make the necessary changes to reflect their goals service goals more accurately, columnist Patrick O'Bryan writes for Hotel News Now.
In an article for the trade information website, O'Bryan suggested 10 standards that most hotel chains will ask mystery shoppers to look for while completing an assignment. They include:
1. Are you quickly acknowledged and did the employee approach with a friendly demeanor?
For example, O'Bryan suggests benchmarks, including that guests are greeted with a smile and eye contact by an employee when they are next in line or come within 10 feet of a staff member.
2. Are you greeted in a professional manner?
3. Does the employee use your name appropriately (if they know it)?
For instance, following check-in, does the front desk representative thank the customer by name, or address them personally when handing over a room key?
4. Does the employee anticipate your needs or offer helpful suggestions?
This is a key component to hotel chains that offer the highest standards of service, such as the Ritz-Carlton. The brand is renowned for its employees' ability to anticipate guests' needs and do what they can to appease them.
This is also extremely important at concierge desks where customers will seek advice about local restaurants and attractions. Shoppers might note whether they offer brochures or maps to direct them, or offer additional services such as offering to call for a reservation or arrange transportation.
5. Does the employee provide extraordinary service?
O'Bryan lists being flexible, paying a compliment or having fun with the guest as some indicators of extraordinary service.
6. Does the employee conclude the interaction on a positive note?
Did they thank the guest for staying with them? At the Ritz-Carlton, employees are trained to send off customers with a warm farewell, inviting them to return for an additional stay.
7. If you give a complaint, how did the employee react?
Did the employee listen and apologize, or did he or she offer to follow-up on the problem, O'Bryan asks. Empathy is one of the most important elements of customer satisfaction and loyalty.
8. Did the employee's tone of voice and body language seem sincere?
Staff members who are engaged in their work and uphold the company's values will often demonstrate this through their demeanor. A discouraged employee who does not seem sincere might convey the wrong message to guests.
9. Was the employee wearing a clean uniform and meet required dress codes?
In certain service environments, employees are required to pull back their hair or wear name tags. It's important to note these factors because they contribute to the business' overall sense of professionalism and cleanliness.
10. Were the employees interacting professionally with one another?
If employees are carrying on conversations while guests approach, they may make patrons feel like they are interrupting. Mystery shoppers might also be asked to take notice if mobile phones are visible in service environments.
Getting selected for a hotel assignment can be exciting (and rewarding) for mystery shoppers. While every job is different, they might receive a free night's stay on top of cash payments for completing the shop. However, shoppers will likely need to prepare ahead of time so they can remember all of the assignment details. In these situations, it might be helpful to take notes when they're alone in an elevator or after they enter their room, so they can keep the details fresh in their minds.