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Hospitality is a Zero-Disappointment Industry

This week, I’ll be sharing a series of blog posts related to what I learned at the Agilysys Inspire User Conference in Las Vegas, March 18-20, 2024.

For openers, I learned that hospitality is a zero-disappointment industry. If a customer engages in 10 experiences and you exceed expectations on nine but disappoint on the tenth, guess which will appear on social media review sites and in conversations about your business?

American Express is renowned for its surveys exploring consumer attitudes and preferences on customer service. The results reveal that outstanding customer service prompts customers to open their mouths (positive reviews/testimonials) and wallets (increased spend).

Word travels, by word of mouth—or mouse

  • Millennials (born between 1981-1996, making them between 28-43 years old this year) are the only generation that tells more friends and family about instances of good service (17 people on average) than bad ones (15 people on average).
  • Americans across the board report telling 36% more people about poor service (15 people on average) than about good experiences (11 people on average).
  • Men are especially vocal when it comes to service, telling twice as many people as women both about their poor experiences (21 people for men vs 10 people for women) and good ones (15 people for men vs 7 people for women).

Delighted customers spend more

  • Sixty-nine percent (69%) of US consumers say they will spend more with a company that offers good customer service.
  • US consumers say they’re willing to spend 17% more to do business with companies that deliver excellent service.
  • More than half of Americans have scrapped a planned purchase or transaction because of bad service, and 33% of consumers say they’ll consider switching companies after a single instance of poor service. (And 60% would consider doing so after 2-3 instances of poor service.)

Thinking in terms of zero disappointment recalls the “zero defects” mantra, popular during the quality movement in manufacturing during the ‘80s and ‘90s. At the time, when we began to apply these concepts to service quality in the hospitality industry, I remember thinking about the advantage that manufacturing (product quality) had compared to hospitality (service quality).

In a manufacturing environment, you have the luxury of a quality assurance (QA) process that can identify and resolves quality issues in advance. By the time the customer receives the final product, it’s been examined, and any flaws identified have been removed. Not so with hospitality. Everything happens in real time—good, bad, or indifferent.

This forces hospitality professionals to develop and hone processes that deliver exceptional service quality, so that customers receive this standard of quality consistently over time by design.

While “zero disappointment” is a high bar, your business will be rewarded with positive word of mouth (and “word of mouse” in the form of online reviews) and loyal customers who return often and spend more money when they do.

Order Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary by Steve Curtin or purchase from select retailers, including Barnes & Noble.
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