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Have you ever had a guest standing in front of you complaining and not sure how to handle it?

I’m going to share with you the type of quests that make them and 18 of the most common complaints.

Welcome to another edition of hospitality property school.

I am your instructor, Gerry MacPherson.

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We all have our own personalities, motivations and quirks. The same can be said for the unhappy person standing in front of you and if you can determine the type of person that is, the chances of you handling the complaint successfully will increase dramatically.

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Another reason it is important to handle complaints effectively is that it is easier and less expensive to win back the customer that had a negative experience then try to attract new customers.

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  • Up to 95% of customers will give you a second chance if you handle their complaint successfully and in a timely manner.

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  • Resolve a complaint in the customer’s favour and they will do business with you again 70% of the time.

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Now keep in mind, you won’t be able to satisfy every unhappy customer who contacts you, but the financial returns to your business from turning a displeased customer’s service experience into a positive are huge.

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It has been my experience that customers who complain can be categorized into different groups.

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Here are the 5 most common groups.

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The Mild Customer

They normally do not like to complain, but if you see there is a problem, you might be required to ask more precise questions to get them to tell you what is wrong.

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The Pushing Customer

Blunt and not at all timid about telling you what’s on their mind. With this type of customer your better off not being pushy back, rather react with “What else may I help you with?”

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Prove that you’re willing to listen to their problem.

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The Big Spender

Your “enterprise” customer. They have no problem paying for convenience and top-notch service, however, they demand superior support. No customer cares for excuses, and this type of customer detests hearing them.

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Don’t make excuses, just tell them how you are going to take care of their problem.

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The Habitual Complainer

This customer will contact you a great deal, but that does not mean that their problems should be brushed aside. Here is where patience is called for.

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One thing is for sure when this customer is satisfied they will have no problems with telling others how great you are.

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The Rip Off Customer

This might sound a little harsh but we have all seen them. This customer is never happy and is not actually looking for an acceptable reaction, they’re just seeking to get something they don’t deserve. Nothing is good enough unless they are getting a handout.

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The best thing you can do is to stay calm and react as objectively as you can.

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Now, I am going to share with you the most common complaints, right after a word from our sponsors.

 

 

Here are 18 of the most common complaints

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  1. Noisy neighbours

No matter what type of property you’re running, you will eventually have to deal with guests complaining about noisy neighbours. Your guests paid good money to stay at your property and getting some peace & quiet shouldn’t be too much to ask, it’s the bare minimum of what’s expected.

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Politely ask their neighbour to please keep their volume down because it’s bothering the other guests. Keep in mind that the noisy neighbours are still guests at your property and should be treated with appropriate respect.

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  1. Hot water & plumbing glitches

There’s a number of things that can go wrong here. First is the amount, or lack of, hot water.

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This is a common issue that property guests have, but it’s your job to ensure there is enough hot water for all your guests.

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Next is the plumbing in general, smells and mould.

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If the issue isn’t able to be fixed, make sure to move them to a new room or consider calling in a plumber. For any smells and mould, make sure it’s immediately addressed by having a cleaning crew go to their room and scrub it clean.

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  1. Beds too small/soft/hard

It’s a personal thing, and you won’t be able to please everyone all the time. Make sure you purchase your beds from a supplier that understand the hospitality property industry.

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Is this making sense? Let me know by leaving a comment.

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  1. Unclean rooms

Mistakes happen, so don’t spend too much time freighting over it.

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Apologize, correct the issue and develop a checklist to make nothing is missed when turning over a room.

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  1. Room temperature

I wish there was a one-fix solution for this, but there isn’t.

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In much of North America, air conditioning is expected. In Europe and other parts of the world, if a property has air conditioning, it is often turned off when a guest is not in the room (the reason is the cost of energy); and even when on full blast, it’s not going to get super cool.

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You can apologize but inform your guests that this is the norm.

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  1. No free Wi-Fi

People are so used to free Wi-Fi nowadays that whenever they’re in a place that doesn’t have it, they tend to get frustrated. Simple answer, supply Wi-Fi.

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  1. Food problems

When the food comes up short, it only makes sense that the customers will complain. Bring all food complaints straight to the kitchen staff as well as the wait staff that are responsible for delivering the food.

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If breakfast is included in the room rate, the fact still remains that your guests expect a high-quality meal to start their day. Many properties make the mistake of skipping on quality just to save, which leads to low-quality meals that your guests are going to remember the next time they want to book.

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Make sure to go above & beyond when it comes to your breakfast.

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  1. It doesn’t match the website or brochure

Don’t exaggerate on your website or brochures. If your guests are expecting five-star accommodations and you only offer a three-star, you’re going to have unhappy customers. If your property is not perfect, relax… In fact, few properties are perfect! Just make sure that you share all the exact details of your property in your description. If your property description is not the issue, then dig a little deeper. You might find that they’re really just mad because it’s raining outside when they expected bright blue skies.

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Stay professional about the situation, saying sorry even when a sorry isn’t needed.

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  1. Extra charges

Hospitality property stays can be expensive for many people and customers are not going to be happy having to pay more than what they previously had in mind. Be upfront and clear with any possible charges, leaving no surprises. Properties that do engage in hidden charges can expect to face plenty of negative reviews.

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  1. Employee issues

We can all have a bad day and no matter how well operated your property is, there will be times issues arise between customers and staff. These problems can range from complaints regarding their attitude, not feeling like they’re doing everything they can, etc. This is a tricky area to manoeuvre because you don’t want to make the mistake of alienating your employees in an effort to please the customer, but you also want the customer to feel like their concerns are being heard.

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Listen intently to the customers’ complaints while apologizing on behalf of the business and working to come to a resolution that you both can agree on. While this may lead you to have to offer free amenities on behalf of your property, it’s still better than having the customer flood review sites with negative comments.

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  1. Ignoring the “Do not disturb” sign

A “Do not disturb” sign is sacred. Your guests paid for the right to feel at home and a big part of achieving that is having staff respect there do not disturb sign whenever it’s presented. Ensure each room comes equipped with one and that your staff respect the sign.

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  1. Not honouring reservations

There are times when properties overbooking their rooms in an effort to maximize their profits. While this may be a profitable practice, but what happens if all your guests show.

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To no surprise, this can cause guests to be furious and demand an explanation as to why their rooms aren’t available.

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If you find yourself in this situation, it’s best to put them up in a nearby property and pay for an upgrade plus meal or drinks.

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  1. Theft

This is a very serious issue that shouldn’t be taken lightly and you should have a policy in place to handle the situation. If you don’t have procedures in place, then create one immediately. If this matter isn’t handled properly, then it can evolve into something much bigger if it’s left unchecked, and there’s always the possibility of a lawsuit.

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Practice due diligence to ensure your property is protected.

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  1. No pets

Certain guests are always going to have issues with rules that are explicitly stated on your website and brochures. But that doesn’t change the fact that they’re your guests and still deserve the utmost respect. If a guest shows up with a pet to your property when you have a strict no pet policy, be sure to explain your rules regarding the subject and suggest nearby properties that are pet-friendly.

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  1. Lack of complimentary amenities

By complimentary amenities, I mean are things like shampoo, soap, hangers, etc. While you may be concerned with theft, it’s important to note that not having these available to your guests won’t score you any points and will put a damper on your brand.

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  1. Not available

One of the easiest ways to impress your guests is by just being available, especially small properties. Guests want to know what they can expect, and that things like the check-in and check-out times are clear. If you are unable to welcome them in person, communicate this to them and double-check that they know the check-in procedure.

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  1. Lack of useful information

New guest arriving at a property might not have any idea of what to see, where to eat, how to make a call, how to use the TV.

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Create an information package that includes all useful information a person, new to the area would need. Very few independent properties offer this and it is too bad because they are hugely appreciated.

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  1. Lack of appropriate outlets

 

More and more of us are travelling with phones, tablets, cameras and require them to be charged. Walking into a room to only find one or two outlet hidden behind the bed or end tables is no longer acceptable. This requirement is not going to change in the near future so ensure you have plenty of outlets available and accessible..

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In conclusion

Running a hospitality property can be difficult for a variety of reasons.

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There’s a ton of moving parts and no matter how hard you work, it seems like there’s always going to be a customer complaining about something. Ensure you and your staff are adequately prepared to deal with the common complaints and that this is documented in your operations manual. Make sure to update it as any new issues arise.

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If you have come across complaints that I have not covered, I would like to hear them. Leave them in the comment section.

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TO READ OR LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE ON KEYSTONE HOSPITALITY PROPERTY CONSULTING:

https://keystonehospitalitydevelopment.com/KHDC161

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And don’t forget to join the “6 Day Challenge” here:

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RESOURCES & LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

Keystone HDC Post Downloads

We add to them every month.

https://KeystoneHospitalityDevelopment.com/KHDC140

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Listen to The Hospitality Property School Podcast here:

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https://youtu.be/b3x9RJ-kRDg

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