Local approach speaks volumes to Best Western customers

The European Contact Centre & Customer Service Awards last night awarded Best Western GB winner of the Customer Experience Team of the Year.

At the awards ceremony held at the Old Billingsgate in London, Best Western GB celebrated winning top spot against other established European organizations nominated for the same category, which included Odeon, AXA, Lowell Group, NHS Business Services Activity and SquareTrade Limited.

Based at Best Western’s Central Reservations office in York, the Customer Service Team hires local people and do not believe in setting targets. Team leaders always encourage their staff to develop a personal rapport with the customer on each call, which greatly contributes to their success.

According to the head of contact centre, Gail Heafield, who has worked with Best Western GB for 16 years, “The fact is, we spend such a large proportion of lives at our desk, it has to be enjoyable and you have to work together. Our recruitment isn’t just based on proficiency, it is largely founded on cultural fit and assimilation to business values such as ‘take joy in helping people and places become better than you found them’.

“Often customers develop a relationship with staff, and will call up asking to speak to the same person. A guest once told us that it was ‘almost like a friend’ had emailed her when a member of the team assisted with her enquiry. We don’t use templates, scripts or generic lines of apology. Every interaction is written to our guest, for our guest.”

Best Western GB is busting the myth that call centres are cut-throat, detached, KPI-driven office blocks. For the Customer Services Team in York, they enjoy a bright work space complete with fish tanks, a tuck shop with vintage sweet jars and the freedom to send personalised cards and gifts to guest rooms following a booking.

Drew Jardine, quality and coaching manager at the Best Western GB Customer Service Centre and also a 16 year-long employee, encourages staff to turn every complainant into an ambassador for Best Western GB and, in turn, encourage the guest to return to Best Western GB member properties in the future.

“Guest retention is paramount and, as such, a staggering 98 per cent are convinced to consider another stay, with only 2 per cent of all complaints receiving cash compensation.

“The wider business also benefits from this foresight and intelligence to ensure complaint recurrence is minimised and departments are communicating and learning from one another.

“For the couple who could not book their wedding at their preferred Best Western GB hotel and sadly had to opt for a competitor, we offered the soon to be newly-weds one week in the proprietors personal holiday apartment in Majorca to honeymoon in.

“The Best Western Customer Service Centre even has its own fan club, where members send cards and gifts encouraging good work ethic and congratulating the team when they solve challenging customer issues.”

The judging process for the European Contact Centre & Customer Service Awards involved several stages. Following being shortlisted based in a formal submission, Best Western GB customer services manager, Louise Gofton, and customer services team leader, Kirsty Beckett, presented to a panel of four senior leader industry leaders.

The European Contact Centre & Customer Service Awards formally recognises professional excellence throughout the UK and Europe. It is a firmly established annual event, recognising and rewarding the best and most successful individuals and organisations in the contact centre and customer service industry.

Written on 16th June 2015Lillie Geistdorfer. Published in Members News, News