Sundeep Bhutoria

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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Raising standards

For many years now, I have been staying at various five star properties at home and abroad, including some of the biggest hotel chains in the world. I have been observant about so many things that aroused my curiosity and also written about them.
I have noticed something in five star properties which may seem very trivial from the guest's point of view but can actually make or break careers. This is common to all the top hotels the worldover.
The issue at hand is that in their endeavour to serve the customer better, hotel chains have the practice of giving the customer feedback cards with the food ordered via room service.
This feedback card is apart from the overall feedback form which the hotels give to the guests while checking out or the email version sent to them later.
These two by three inch folded cards, which comes with the food trolley, seek client feedback on the quality of service, order delivery and efficiency and also on eye appeal, quality and taste of the food served. The end-user can exercise their options in YES or NO regarding the service. The card, often on the front fold, mentions “You are being served by” and there is the space for the name of the bearer or butler who takes the food trolley to the room.
The very purpose of this feedback card is to raise the standard of service and also to measure up to the needs of the clients. But there is much more than what meets the eye. Many hotels link this feedback form response to rate the efficiency of the staff concerned.
But what I have noticed in many hotels is that the feedback card does not mention the name of the person serving the food. This has many ramifications. The first time I noticed this I had doubts about this whole exercise being a serious one. How can a hotel assess its staff if the name of the person serving a guest is not mentioned anywhere in the feedback form. I find it a little odd for a guest to ask for the name of the butler serving the food and writing it in the form.
Very often the staff serving the guests are trainees. This is mentioned in their badge. How do hotels assess a particular staff whose name does not feature anywhere! The absence of a name scores out the element of seriousness from the feedback card. After all, what is feedback card for the guest is also a service assessment card for the hotel. Rating the efficiency of a staff is linked to points earned and accumulated on the basis of the feedbacks. Many hotels have this. It has a direct bearing on the career of the staff. It could be rewarding or could be the end of the road.
I think filling in a nameless card is a meaningless exercise. After all “quality of food and service” is one of the most critical areas in the highly competitive hospitality sector. The guests who check into hotels also should take this seriously and should, in their own interest, spare a minute to respond to the feedback form, which, I feel, are valuable inputs that can actually help hotels raise the standards of quality and service.
I have been quite amazed by alacrity of the response from certain brands to the queries and issues that I have raised in the past. I hope the next time I order food from room service the feedback card would have a name on it.
ess bee

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