TOPIC: How to Win Back an Angry Guest


The “How to Win Back an Angry Guest” training video will discuss on the interpersonal communication issues present in a hotel, specifically looking into the housekeeping department. In the video, elements such as the “Bad” example, the “Good” example, key learning points following the L.E.A.R.N model will be explored.A hotel setting was chosen for this project as hotels are widely known for their range of line staff inclusive of front desk personnel, room attendants, guest relations personnel and food and beverage personnel. Focusing on the housekeeping department allows the team to delve into less explored areas of communication issues between guests and hotel staff. <need company details>

Research Objective

The research was undertaken to examine possible interpersonal communication issues present in the housekeeping department (in this case, an angry guest) and propose relevant and effective solution(s) that hotel staff may implement.

Research Method
Primary Research

The team conducted face-to-face interviews with hotel managers and staff who has experienced an angry guest before and turned them into satisfied customers. The interview aims to determine the “good” and the “bad” reactions from hotel staff and understand the communication issue that has resulted in the guest becoming angry. It will also shed some light onto the processes and actions taken in order to turn an angry guest into a satisfied one. Further, customers who previously had communication issues with their hotels will also be interviewed to understand from a customer standpoint with regards to the issue and the subsequent service recovery.

Secondary Research
Much of the secondary research were derived from research reports, company websites and online articles. The objective of this secondary research was to verify the effectiveness of the solution as well as to align the focus of the primary research.

Problem Identification
Hotels face countless of complaints everyday, be it at the front desk, at the concierge or even at the back of the house. It is believed that out of all, the Front Office is the department that receives the most number of angry guests. As such, managers tend to focus more on Guest Services Agents (GSAs) during trainings to hone their interpersonal and communication skills. During such trainings, GSAs are trained to deal with different situations that might occur while on-the-job. Role plays portraying angry guests are also practised in the event that similar situations occur. This prepares the GSAs to react and respond in a confident and professional manner should they encounter something similar.

However, the back-of-house staff are often neglected since they perform behind the scenes and have less exposure to guest interaction. This problem is particularly prominent in the housekeeping department where staff are simply taught on how to clean the rooms and accomplish simple guests’ requests. Less emphasis is placed on educating the housekeepers in dealing with angry guests. This creates a scenario where housekeepers are unsure of how to deal with them if they happen to meet one along the hallway.

With lesser practice in overcoming these circumstances, housekeepers tend to lose confidence in themselves. Self-doubt has also been one of the reasons why housekeepers tend to shun away from angry guests. In addition, a majority of the housekeepers are unable to converse in English. This worsens the situation since the housekeepers would not be able to properly express themselves when guests are angry. Many avoid conflict by turning their attention away from the issue by deflecting the complaint.

Without proper training on how housekeepers should deal with angry guests, the problem will continue to remain. Losing a guest brings about many detrimental effects which may be a cause of worry for the hotel in the near future.

Word-of-mouth has been identified as the most powerful and valuable form of marketing. It is a tool that guests tend to put the most trust in. While this can help an establishment to gain reputation, it can also swing both ways. The easy accessibility of the internet today allows guests to share about their stay at a hotel on social media platforms such as Facebook or Tripadvisor. A negative review can easily affect the decision of a guest which results in lower occupancy at the hotel.

As such, several key pointers have been identified for easy learning in dealing with angry guests and advice on how to win them back. “It is easier to keep your customers happy than to attract new ones.”

Solution (LEARN)
The training video will revolve around the LEARN model, an acronym for listen, empathise, apologise, resolve and notify, that is utilised by numerous service organisations to resolve customers’ or guest issues.

The model is very adaptable and can be used by employees of any designation and role. As part of the Ritz-Carlton onboarding process, the model is introduced as part of problem resolutions involving guests. Each step within the model need not be performed sequentially and the user has the flexibility to adapt the model to the situation at hand. For instance, if a guest is greatly enraged, apologising first would be prefered to listening as the first step.

‘Listen’ is commonly merged ‘empathy’, and requires the staff to practise effective listening and display concern and empathy. During this time, it is imperative that the staff maintains eye contact and gives the guest his fullest attention. An angry guest usually make their grievances public because they wish to be heard and expect tangible forms of resolution. Therefore, the first two steps answers the guest’s desire to be heard.

‘Apologise’ requires the staff to sincerely apologise immediately to acknowledge the service deficiencies encountered by the guest. Proper tone of voice and body language have to be considered during this process to ensure that the sincere apology is properly communicated to the guest. It is vital for the first staff that discovered the guest incident to apologise and own the problem. It would be counterproductive to apologise and yet, refer the guest to another individual or department.

‘Resolve’ refers to any necessary steps required to totally resolve the guest incident in a satisfactory manner. In the event that the staff encountering the guest has no control over the resolution of the issue, he should inform the relevant party after apologising and acknowledging the issue. Problem resolution should be done in a timely manner to minimise the waiting time faced by the guest.

‘Notify’ is the final step of the LEARN model and it involves notifying the affected guest of any follow-up actions that would be taken by the hotel. It also includes notifying the hotel of the incident and the service recovery actions taken. This enables the hotel to learn from the incident as it strives to maintain a high level of guest satisfaction. The staff is also able to exceed the guest’s expectations during this process, such as providing complimentary amenities.