No one likes receiving complaints from clients or guests, but it’s an inevitable part of the job as a Sales Manager of hotels or venues. You’re in the hospitality industry, delivering an experience to your clients, and you’re bound to miss the mark every once in awhile with some people. First and foremost, don’t be too hard on yourself. Everyone deals with criticism from time to time and it’s most likely not a direct personal reflection of your skills on the job. Have compassion for yourself before you try and help the client or guest.
With that being said, here are our tips to help you handle complaints from corporate clients. Hopefully these tips will make those dreaded complaints a little more manageable.
1. Genuinely listen with concern
Don’t argue with the guest or get immediately defensive when they raise their issues to you. Remember, it probably took them courage to bring up their concerns in the first place. Genuinely listen to the guest’s concerns and ask follow up questions to show you’re truly listening and that you care. This means you shouldn’t be blankly looking at them, waiting for them to finish talking, so you can jump in with your cliche one-size-fits-all line that shows them you don’t truly care.
Try and be empathetic about the situation and validate the guest’s feelings on the matter. You don’t necessarily have to agree with what they’re saying to validate their feelings you don’t have to validate that there is an issue if you don’t believe there is, but validate their feelings of distress or inconvenience or confusion.
2. Write down notes
Writing down notes about the guest’s concerns offers a few benefits. It shows the guest that you care enough about their situation to handle it seriously and professionally (let them know you’re taking notes about the issue so they don’t just think you’re ignoring them and getting on with separate work). It also encourages the guest to be courteous and respectable in the manner they’re speaking to you - they will see that their words are being reflected in the notes so they won’t want to make themselves look bad by being too abrasive or swearing.
Using notes also serves as a great reference point if other staff members become involved in the resolution of the issue. There’s nothing more frustrating to the guest if they have to explain the situation over and over again to each new staff member who becomes involved in their complaint.
3. Offer the guest choices for what can be done about the situation
Put the power in the guest’s hands and make them feel like they’re in control of the situation. Give the guest 2-3 options of attractive choices to resolve the issue and let them decide what’s best for them to make them happy again.
4. Follow up after the complaint has been resolved
The complaint resolution process isn’t over as soon as you’ve improved the situation for the guest. Show them you take their concerns seriously by following up with them after their stay by email or phone to make sure the rest of their stay was excellent and thank them for bringing forward their concerns. Many times people feel embarrassed or awkward being confrontational about an issue they’re having, so making them feel safe and secure to bring those issues up will most likely boost their reputation of you and the hotel/venue in the process.
We hope these tips help you out the next time you’re faced with a complaint from a client. If you take on all of these tips in your complaint resolution process, we have no doubt you will turn your unhappy clients into clients that are singing your praises in no time.