Industry Update
Opinion Article27 February 2019

Customer Satisfaction through Service Excellence: The Importance of Focused Training

By Chris K. Anderson, Professor at Cornell School of Hotel Administration and Elizabeth Martyn , Senior Project Manager, Online Learning and Collaborative Programs at Cornell

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Technology has shifted the dynamics of guest interactions in the hospitality industry. Two key elements of this shift are that service providers now have fewer opportunities for direct interaction with guests, and interactions may often be the result of service failures. In these face-to-face encounters, employees' ability to effectively manage the emotional components of the guest interaction can make a major contribution to a guest's satisfaction with the outcome. Intrinsic employee behaviors, namely, employee engagement, communication, and attitude (that is, the "how" in the delivery of service) influence guest's perceptions of service outcomes. In a preliminary study, relatively intense training of hotel front-desk employees, using a blend of online and face-to-face training, changed employee behaviors in a way that guests reported an improvement in staff helpfulness. This study employed modules of the Cornell University Service Excellence On- Demand Training as a tool for improving the work of front-line service providers. Such training can foster improved handling of guest interactions, thereby offering a substantial opportunity for improved guest satisfaction.

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