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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

How One Hilton Hotel Improved Its Customer Service

I travel to a certain Hilton hotel fairly frequently. Between my most recent visit and the previous one – less than 6 months – the improvement in customer service is so noticeable that I would call it drastic. This was evidenced by the following behaviors:
  • Quick response to customer service requests
  • Followup phone calls to make sure we got what we needed
  • Pre-arrival text to make sure we had a contact number
  • Actually stating “we are here to serve you, that’s what we’re here for”
  • Smiling, courteous, but non-intrusive attitude
  • Generous provision of incidentals like newspaper, toothpaste, etc.
  • General welcoming atmosphere, very quiet and relaxing
This was a case study in customer service improvement!


I wanted to know more on a practical level: How did they do it?


So I asked one of the employees – letting the person know that I was writing a blog post, and that their name would not be used. In a sign of being well-trained and brand-conscious, the person agreed and then introduced me to the operations manager, who thanked me for the kind online review and shared some additional thoughts. They are included in the below.
  • Extensive Training With Role-Playing: Employees receive extensive training, including face-to-face role playing to help them handle potentially unpleasant scenarios.
  • Positively Oriented Employee Rewards Program: When employees do a good job of providing customer service, guests are encouraged to let Hilton know through its “Catch Me At My Best” program. Of course guests can also complain, but the idea is to focus on what people are doing well rather than badly.
  • Relevant Rewards: When employees are happy and productive, the brand shines. In this case, the rewards program is relevant to employees in two ways. First, they are recognized among their peers, which provides social status and self-esteem. Second, rewards are tangible and financial, translating into gift certificates usable at local grocery stores and tourist attractions.
  • “Practice What You Preach” Management Style: Management clearly models the behaviors it asks of its employees. Working at the hotel is a dignified profession and serving guests is a privilege and an honor. It is a classy environment to be in, and the way people carry themselves reflects this. I personally found this to be true, whether dealing with people at an executive level or people who were serving coffee.
  • Empowerment: Management gives employees the discretion to handle situations (to a certain extent, I’m sure, not infinitely) according to their best judgment.
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This post represents my own opinion and was not sponsored by Hilton Hotels. It is not official communication on their part or mine. The employee I spoke with introduced me to the operations manager at the hotel, who graciously thanked me for getting the word out online.