We have recently noticed an increase in the number of client requests for telephone mystery shopping. As a leading supplier of hospitality mystery shopping services we understand the important role the telephone has in generating revenue for our clients. Typically we are asked to assess a variety of different scenarios, such as making a bedroom reservation or an enquiry regarding a conference or wedding. A digital recording of the enquiry is supplied to the client to provide an accurate representation of the interaction. This is supplied in conjunction with a scored report of the enquiry which enables comprehensive benchmarking.

Our digital audio software removes references to sensitive information such as credit card information and other personal details. This has the benefit that the audio recordings can be used as training and development tools and also shared amongst the team. Sharing recordings can highlight best practice trends and also help identify areas of opportunity. This approach also helps to encourage team members to take individual responsibility for achieving a collective team goal of service levels.

I would like to share with you the 2 biggest areas of opportunity that we have identified following our extensive telephone mystery shop assessments;

Customer contact details are not requested…

When looking for a prospective wedding or conference venue our research indicates that on average 4 venues are contacted. Venues will be selected for a number of reasons including personal recommendations or experience, online reviews/feedback and suitability to the event. The prospective customer will of course contact the venue to discuss their requirements and to check availability for the planned event. Because the customer will be contacting a number of venues it is often unlikely that any decision regarding the final choice is made at the time. Most hospitality businesses are very good at providing information about their service or facilities during the enquiry however they are not so good at requesting customer contact details for a follow-up. If no contact details are requested then it is impossible for the hotel or venue to follow-up the enquiry and convert it into a booking.

No follow-up is received…

Many hospitality businesses never follow up with prospects after the initial enquiry is made. The majority will only then follow up once or twice. What we have learned is that it takes five, seven, sometimes ten communications and follow-ups for most customers to make a final decision to purchase a product or service.
Most hospitality businesses give up after one or two follow-up’s. Truth is giving up before ten follow-up’s means hospitality businesses are almost certainly missing out on valuable sales. In 2012 the average cost of hiring a wedding venue was over £4,000 and the average cost of a conference was nearly £5,000. These are valuable and profitable events for any hotel or venue. Successful (and profitable) hospitality businesses will also make sales to people who first enquired over a year ago. However it could be that the sale is actually for a different product or service that was initially enquired about. The reason for this is because the hospitality business stayed in touch – and followed up.
Here is some best practice and advice to help ensure your sales increase, and are not kept on hold;

Responsibility…
Set team members the target of achieving a certain amount of follow-ups and reward those who do well. Not only can this be fun but it also makes it competitive amongst the team. Some examples can include a targeted amount of follow-up’s per day and also a targeted amount of enquiries converted into bookings.

Systems…
What systems are in place to ensure that all enquiries are captured and followed up? There are numerous systems available to assist with this. Systems can range from a simple spread sheet or database to fully integrated customer relationship management (CRM) tools. It is important to ensure that all users are fully trained and that the system integrates within the sales function.

Metrics…
Measuring and monitoring the sales process is essential for continual sales growth and improvement. We work with our clients to provide mystery shopping feedback on the sales process. The feedback and metrics our clients receive enables them to focus on areas of opportunity to ensure a consistent sales process is maintained. This helps to ensure that follow-up communication is delivered in a timely manner which in turn leads to more bookings.

Special Offer…

How well do your sales team handle and follow-up enquiries? We are delighted to offer Customer Experience Magazine subscribers a complimentary telephone mystery shop to find out. This offer is free from future obligation and is available to the first 20 responses received before 31st October 2013. Please contact us today on 01953 885 675 to arrange yours and for full terms and conditions.

Chris TalbotChris Talbot is the founder and Managing Director of Assured Customer Experience, the hospitality mystery shopping specialist.
01953 885 675
www.AssuredCustomerExperience.co.uk

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