Michelle Dutton, Percipient, looks at how a renewed focus on customer service excellence must be underpinned by a flexible yet robust business foundation.
As we know all too well, the UK hospitality industry has its work cut out, trying to recover from sales lost as a result of the global pandemic. The pressure is definitely on to try and get back on track, with a real need to get more customers back through the doors as soon as possible.
However, even if customers are willing to come back, faced with ongoing staff shortages, hospitality businesses don’t necessarily have the resources available to provide the levels of service that customers were receiving pre-pandemic.
While initially the majority of customers were understanding of customer service falling short of usual standards due to COVID-19, research suggests this understanding is wearing thin, with more customers increasingly fed-up with service providers blaming any shortcomings on the COVID effect.
When you also consider that customer complaints are at their highest level since 2009, hospitality businesses clearly have a problem on their hands, with a real need to prioritise customer service excellence above all else.
A Solid Foundation
To do this, hospitality businesses need to be underpinned by solid foundations. You can have the highest standards of customer service in the world but if the business infrastructure isn’t there to support it, it’s all in vain.
Robust yet flexible back-office systems are needed to enable fast, effective decision-making while remaining agile enough to face the unprecedented challenges and disruptions that the hospitality sector continues to face. With this taken care of, decision-makers can focus on improving customer service, safe in the knowledge that they’ve optimised the crucial business functions that underpin the organisation.
In light of this, forward-thinking hospitality businesses are looking to digitally transform their finance function, doing away with manual, paper-based processes and disparate outdated systems, with a view to spending less time processing data and more time on value-add strategic activities, such as improving customer service.
Financial platforms which integrate with other business systems are becoming the solutions of choice. Enabling the automatic amalgamation of financial information from right across the business, including multiple sites, locations and business units.
This speeds up the entire financial management process, eradicating the inevitable errors that occur with manual data transfer and preventing any duplication of effort, in an era where any efficiencies that can be made are most welcome.
The reporting functionality of such solutions is proving invaluable too, delivering accurate, in-depth and timely management information. The ability to slice and dice the data in a multitude of ways is another benefit, enabling the business to identify trends and anomalies across different departments and locations.
Actionable Business Insight
Ultimately, these solutions are delivering insight not just information, delivering comprehensive visibility right across the business. It’s this in-depth visibility, delivered via easy-to-understand dashboards, that allows a hospitality business to respond quickly and effectively to challenges and changing demands, directing resources to where they’re most needed.
The granularity of information that’s provided, in conjunction with the ability to streamline processes and accelerate the finance function, gives the business more time to dedicate to business recovery, ploughing time and effort into ensuring customer service excellence remains top of the priority list.
Opting for a cloud-based solution delivers additional benefits. Easy to scale in-line with business growth or changing business demands, a cloud-based financial management solution offers the scalability and flexibility that the hospitality industry needs as it navigates its way through these difficult times.
The same can be said of working with a partner with experience in the hospitality sector. Not only do they have the necessary solutions expertise, but they know the industry, aware of the unique challenges faced by hospitality businesses and well-placed to advise on which solution will deliver maximum value for your specific business.
For many hospitality businesses, the digital switch was underway before the pandemic, but has since been expedited. As the sector looks to boost customer numbers, and deliver customer service excellence, there’s a real need to maintain this momentum and extend digitalisation to the back-office, taking care of fundamental business processes to enable the business to focus efforts elsewhere.
Hospitality businesses can’t compromise on service levels and can no longer blame COVID for any problems. They must deliver the highest possible standards across all areas of the business to secure that all-important competitive advantage in an industry where everyone is striving to be best-in-class.
Hospitality Finance Solutions
Percipient specialise in giving hospitality businesses a clear view of their performance using the latest finance technology. Get in touch to book a demo or call 01606 871332 to get all your questions answered by our experts.