Every business entity must always be ready to serve its customers. Customers pay and anticipate something in return, in the form of a product or a service. These entities must live by their visions and missions. A business must do what it set out to do, such as maintaining: quality standards, good service, affordable products and services, etc. A promise is a promise. It doesn’t matter whether or not a business is operating at a loss, standards should not be compromised.
Customers come from all walks-of-life. They have preferences and tastes. It is not always easy to satisfy their needs. However, for hoteliers, certain basic things must be in place. I will call these the physical and the psychological environments. Both these factors can attract or repel a potential customers.
1.1 The Physical Environment
Hotels have their work well cut out. Hoteliers know very well that the surroundings or physical environment must be kept clean, the lawn, trees and flowers well-trimmed. The décor must appeal to their customers. Even though a customer is not into arts or sculptures, something will become attractive to them, e.g a clean environment.
According to the Diversey (2017) online survey conducted in 5 European countries, cleanliness is the single most important element during hotel recommendation:
- Cleanliness (41%)
- Value for money (32%)
- Location (10%)
- Quality of service (7%)
- Friendliness of staff (3%)
- Food and drink (3%)
- Pleasant atmosphere (2%)
- Hotel brand (1%)
1.2 The Psychological Environment
As soon as a customer arrives at the front desk, a lot is at stake. As they check-in, frontline staff must tune-into their customers. By understanding the psychology or moods of a customer, frontline staff perform an important task, often carried out by psychologists, psychotherapists and psychiatrists during clinical interventions with their patients. This is called Mental State Examination (MSE).
“The mental state examination (MSE) is a structured way of observing and describing a patient’s current state of mind, under the domains of appearance, attitude, behaviour, mood, affect, speech, thought process, thought content, perception, cognition and insight”
I don’t imply that customers are patients. But like patients, customers too have moods, feelings and do express themselves in unique ways. Frontline staff must become empathetic or sensitive to these feelings and moods. By so doing, the staff is able to handle unforeseen situations, which may arise as a result of customer behaviour or reaction. A Mental Status Observation (MSO) enables staff to prepare and to reach out to their customers in the most professional, profound and efficient manner.
Our customers want to be listened to, appreciated and they deserve a world-class service. MSO allows staff to answer some of the following basic questions:
- Have you read the ‘mind’ and established the needs of your customer?
- Do you realize that customers’ needs are emotional rather than logical?
- Have you observed and listened to their words, tone of voice and body language?