Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts always wants to be creative and innovative when it comes to customer experience – and its Blue Water initiative has reaped substantial dividends.
Assisted by Medallia, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts developed Blue Water to test ideas – and it also allows for the sharing of newly-discovered best practices across locations, according to Michelle de Haaff, VP of Marketing for Medallia.
Scott Taber, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts VP of rooms for the Americas, recently was named a 2013 1to1 Customer Champion for his efforts to improve the customer experience program. Taber and the luxury hotel brand use the Medallia platform to measure customer feedback and engagement to improve guest satisfaction. Taber has focused on clear and specific engagement from the property management team all the way to the frontline by offering Four Seasons personnel at each property to relevant information about their customers.
Each property has a designated cross-functional Blue Water team, which meets regularly to dream up ideas for improving customer experience. A recent focus area was service at hotels’ pool and beach areas.
“Though Four Seasons has always been a leader in this, Taber knows that constantly wowing customers and staying ahead of competition requires a fresh look at even the most high-functioning services,” de Haaff told Loyalty 360.
During a six-month period, all Four Seasons Resorts tested innovations, and customers were surveyed about their experiences with the changes they tested. Subsequently, all hotels submitted the best ideas that came from their tests.
“Looking at the feedback, it was clear to Taber and the hotels involved that the innovation Four Seasons should – and did – roll out to all hotels was proactively approaching guests in their lounge chairs and offering free suntan lotion and sunglass cleaning kits,” de Haaff explained. “Survey responses indicate that guests love this convenient gesture, and Taber drove rolling this out, which ultimately increased customer satisfaction.”
Four Seasons measures feedback and trains frontline staff to understand guests, react to emerging issues, and improve experiences so that each customer walks out of the Four Seasons feeling special. With each property, the hotel chain (aided by Medallia) reviews customer satisfaction scores and responsiveness to discussing approaches for handling alerts and acting on identified areas to improve.
As a result of understanding the importance of frontline engagement and successful customer-centricity, Four Seasons boosted employee engagement through the internal branding, education, and training for all 93 Four Seasons hotels.
“Taber made sure that everyone understood the metric (Net Promoter Score) and system (Medallia) used to measure and act on customer feedback,” de Haaff said.
Before Four Seasons began using the Medallia platform, guest feedback aggregation was only available at the level of individual hotels and the whole company worldwide.
“The availability of data aggregated by regions has triggered a huge increase in engagement at the GM level,” de Haaff. “Not only are team members logging in more, but the customer data is being used in staff meetings much more frequently. With a healthy dose of competition, hotels now constantly benchmark their progress within the global team of Four Seasons properties.”
Another Blue Water innovation has focused on mobile technology.
“Through customer interactions, Taber noticed that travelers staying at Four Seasons were increasingly connected through smartphones – mirroring worldwide trends,” de Haaff explained. “His team challenged the hotels to better connect with guests via mobile.”
One innovation that resulted from that effort is check-in via mobile at the Costa Rica property.
“Each Four Seasons guest gets picked up from the airport in a hotel car and is quickly connected with a hotel guest experience manager via an iPad,” de Haaff said. “After a personal greeting, the manager proceeds to confirm a few things about the guest’s arrival experience and other expectations for the stay. Guests love the mobile check-in, and this guest-friendly measure has impactful business benefits as well.”
With more time to devote to contemplating extras – like booking dinner or a massage through the hotel – and a dedicated manager to facilitate questions, guests can schedule more additional services while anticipating arrival at the hotel, de Haaff said.
“The learnings here are being built into a global program with the goal of leading the industry in seamless, expedited arrival experiences at all Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts,” she said.