Hospitality Industry

A Joint Venture in Customer Excellence

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Superior customer service is a proven way to differentiate your business from competitors because it creates a loyal customer base that will choose your brand over others. Focusing on delivering a fantastic customer experience can help companies build lasting emotional connections with their client base.

Accordingly, businesses develop advocates who help spread positive word-of-mouth, both of which give them a competitive edge. But with so much noise out there, it can be hard to know what truly exemplary service looks like in practice. While best practices are important, seeing customer service examples in action provides tangible models to learn from.

Learning how leading companies address customer needs, exceed expectations, listen and adapt, prioritize employees, and view service as strategic can reveal insights that bring these principles to life. Real-world illustrations give businesses a multi-dimensional perspective on service that inspires new ideas for their approach.

Understanding Customer Needs

To delight customers, you must first understand their unique preferences and pain points. A prime example is Coca-Cola HBC Switzerland's partnership with EHL, outlined in their case study that demonstrated how to appreciate customer needs.

"As a pioneer in hospitality and service, EHL helped Coca-Cola HBC develop a comprehensive toolkit to embrace service excellence as a strategic and cultural priority across all levels of the HoReCa industry, equipping frontline staff and executives to elevate their customer service to new heights."

Head of Service DNA, EHL Advisory Services, Olivier Verschelde.

Through their collaboration, Coca-Cola HBC Switzerland sought to understand the preferences of HoReCa segment. HoReCa is an acronym commonly used in Europe to collectively refer to the Hotel, Restaurant, and Café sector in the service industry. Coca-Cola worked with EHL to research the expectations of this discerning customer segment.

The research found that this market valued experiences that complemented the ambiance and prestige of their establishments. It also uncovered that interpersonal skills were essential to enhancing customer interactions. Armed with these findings, Coca-Cola HBC Switzerland was able to tailor their service training program specifically for the nuanced needs of the premium HoReCa industry.

Through these insights into premium HoReCa customers' expectations, Coca-Cola enhanced its service culture through a customized training program. This demonstrates how taking the time to learn about different customer segments sets the stage for service excellence.

Exceeding Expectations 

Once you grasp customer needs, the next step is exceeding those expectations at every touchpoint. This includes the initial sale or sign-up process, customer support interactions, product or service delivery, follow-up communications, resolutions of any issues, and more. Demonstrate excellent attention to detail by going the extra mile, and putting the customer's needs and satisfaction first.

When a customer has an issue, it's about solving it swiftly and with a sincere apology, not just meeting the minimum acceptable resolution. Always look for ways to upgrade aspects like shipping speed or add a personalized thank you note. Small gestures at every stage of the customer journey can create maximum goodwill and turn customers into your biggest brand advocates.

As outlined in their case study, Coca-Cola HBC Switzerland trains staff to anticipate premium HoReCa guests' desires—this level of proactive, personalized service leaves an unforgettable impression. It highlights the importance of staff training.

"The VIP Upper and Premium HoReCa training curriculum is a collaborative effort between Coca-Cola HBC Switzerland and the renowned EHL hospitality program. It fosters a commitment to excellence through a comprehensive spectrum of cutting-edge insights and top-tier industry practices, serving as a guiding light that will illuminate their enduring partnership with premium HoReCa partners."

Cedric El-Idrissi, Commercial Director at Coca-Cola HBC Switzerland Ltd.

When employees are well-versed in addressing customers' desires through education and role-playing various scenarios, they can intuitively anticipate their needs and deliver premium experiences. The Coca-Cola HBC Switzerland teams think on their feet and respond to each unique guest situation, thus resulting in memorable impressions that build customer loyalty and advocacy.

Listening and Adapting

No business gets it right 100% of the time. What separates great companies is how they respond to issues. Any feedback, positive or negative, is an opportunity to improve. Coca-Cola HBC Switzerland views customer responses as ways to refine their services and further elevate the hospitality experience.

They analyze both praise and criticism to identify where training programs excel and where adjustments could have an outsized impact. By continuously refining their training with insights gleaned from interactions, employees can adapt and enhance service tailored to the HoReCa segment's evolving desires. A commitment to listening and improving ensures Coca-Cola HBC Switzerland remains the preferred partner of discerning hospitality professionals.

Putting People First

At the core of stellar service is treating people (both customers and employees) with care, respect, and appreciation. At Coca-Cola HBC Switzerland, putting people first is a core value that reinforces their success. They understand that happy, supported employees are best equipped to deliver exceptional experiences that leave customers feeling valued.

The company cultivates a people-centric culture through comprehensive training programs that empower staff with knowledge and confidence. Employees are encouraged to use their judgment to solve problems creatively based on understanding individual needs. In turn, customers appreciate being seen as unique individuals rather than just transactions.

This emphasis on forging genuine human connections at every touchpoint fosters lasting loyalty and sets the standard for service that uplifts all people involved. Coca-Cola HBC Switzerland's partnership with EHL also aims to provide bespoke training solutions that empower employees. As a result, satisfied workers can deliver premium experiences that surpass guest expectations.

Best Practices for Delivering Exceptional Customer Experience

Based on the Coca-Cola case study, here are five standards your company can emulate to meet and exceed your customers' expectations:

  • Understand your target audience's needs and pain points. Coca-Cola HBC Switzerland studied the premium HoReCa segment through market research and collaboration with EHL to learn their preferences, expectations, and challenges.
  • Exceed customer expectations at every interaction. Coca-Cola HBC Switzerland trained its staff to anticipate client needs in order to deliver an unforgettable, personalized experience that left premium HoReCa guests feeling delighted and well-served.
  • Develop custom-made training programs to empower employees with the skills to consistently captivate customers. Coca-Cola HBC Switzerland partnered with EHL on customized training initiatives co-developed by industry leaders to offer top-tier training tailored specifically for a workforce serving the premium hospitality sector.
  • View customer feedback as an opportunity for continuous improvement. Coca-Cola HBC Switzerland aimed to better its approach based on all customer responses, whether good or bad. They take any feedback as a chance to enhance their training programs and satisfy the needs of the premium HoReCa segment in the long run.

Customer service is not about "being nice." Businesses that view service as a strategic priority, not just a necessary evil, will thrive in today's experience-driven marketplace. Those seeking a competitive edge would do well to study how customer-oriented brands consistently deliver joy at every touchpoint. Now that you've learned real-world customer service examples you can apply across your entire customer journey, READ: THE Service Excellence Guide: from Service Design to Service Recovery.

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