Hospitality and Empathy are the new Customer Service Trends in Europe today!

Large store networks, shopping centres and hypermarkets are part of the daily life of everyone. Therefore, it is extremely important to maintain service quality of the highest level and to improve people’s daily routine.  The main aim of every company should be a desire to provide clients with the highest level of service, to ensure comfort and convenience for everyone and to create empathy between employees and every guest.  The large networks of establishments should be places where people, not only like to make purchases, but also like to spend free time with family, to have fun and have a desire to return time and time again.

In order to evaluate and understand how people perceive service in a shopping centre or hypermarket, as well as to find out what is important to them, it is necessary to conduct research projects, such as an Evaluation of Hospitality.  One of our clients is a global company in the retail sector and it has very high demands for service as well as strict criteria for selecting where to locate stores.

Under the Mystery Shopping Programme, we have evaluated shopping centres that contain stores belonging to our client.  The criteria of this evaluation were:

  • To check tenants for full implementation of agreements
  • To evaluate how productive service provision is
  • To assess the level of cleanliness of the shopping centre
  • To assess implementation of all required standards

After the first wave of mystery shopping assessments, the Operations Department of the evaluated shopping centre approached us to conduct a separate Evaluation of Hospitality. Our task was to assess hospitality and empathy.  The main aims of this centre are to provide impeccable service, to create a welcoming and comfortable environment and to respond to customers’ requirements and desires.

During this project, our mystery shoppers assessed security, reception, luggage room, cleaning services, dressing room, food court, as well as a variety of additional services for guests.  The tasks of the mystery shopper were not just to assess cleanliness in the restroom, but also to assess quality of staff performance, for example by staging different scenarios. One example of this may be that the mystery shopper enters the restroom, spills water or another drink and then asks for a cleaner to clean up the spillage.  The main purpose of this is to find out how quickly the mystery shopper can locate a cleaner in the shopping centre, how quickly the cleaner responds to the request to clean up the spillage, the time taken to clean up and also whether the cleaner invites the shopper to “Come again.”

The evaluation of security services was similar, with the shopper assessing their work according to several criteria.  The security officer should say “Hello” to the shopper, answer any question (even a ridiculous one) and provide the shopper with all the necessary information.  

In the luggage room, the shopper assessed the work of employees in terms of their response to requests, their answer to questions and also whether they used phrases such as “Come again” and “Thank you for your request.”

We also conducted a thorough evaluation of reception employees as they should provide comprehensive information to the client, answering all questions, as well as helping the client, for example, to call a taxi or direct the client to other transport services, to provide a phone charger or even to charge the phone for the client.

In this instance, the shopping centre strives to provide a full range of service for clients and the main focus of this mystery shopping project was on the evaluation of hospitality.  The mystery shopping questionnaire contained many different questions and each of them included an additional one “How hospitable it was?” As a result, our client obtained a true picture of the shopping centre and a comprehensive evaluation of the services of the centre.

At the present time, Hospitality and Empathy are gaining popularity in Europe, and leading companies are striving to provide not just impeccable service, but they are also trying to create a comfortable environment which welcomes the client and makes the client feel totally at home. Customer service is moving to a new level, the aim of which is to ensure maximum comfort for clients and also to provide them with a special customer experience.

HOSPITALITY AND EMPATHY ARE THE NEW CUSTOMER SERVICE TRENDS IN EUROPE TODAY

Earlier, one of our leading cosmetic companies in Europe, with a Head Office in France, approached us to conduct an evaluation of empathy among call centre employees.  We conducted this special research and evaluated how cordially call centre operators communicate with clients, how their voices portray a desire to help, how a tone of voice is perceived by a caller and how the compassion and empathy of the employee is conveyed to the caller.  The main purpose of this research was not just to check on competency and professionalism of the staff, but also to evaluate the empathy level between call centre employee and client. The mystery shopping questionnaire consisted of questions that evaluated the kindness of employees, the perceived “smile” in their voices, endearing greetings, as well as a sincere compassion and desire to help.  

When a client asks a call centre employee for help, he wants to be heard and wants the person on the other end of the phone line to feel and understand his problem.  In some situations, employees of customer support services cannot always help nor provide a solution, but they can always express compassion. The presence of empathy between operator and client always makes the difference between a great customer experience and a bad one.  The impact of emotions cannot be ignored since sensitivity and compassion create a strong emotional connection between people.

Great service is an individual approach for each client and it is extremely important to understand that each of them has individuality.  The level of negative impact of problems on client’s emotional state is huge.

“SERVICE IS WHAT YOU DO TO SOMEONE.  HOSPITALITY IS HOW YOU MAKE SOMEONE FEEL” © 

The difference between hospitality and good service is whether you are doing your job with passion and striving to be exceeding expectations or not.  This could include: remembering clients’ names, their preferences, giving them advice, going beyond the call of duty, creating an unforgettable experience, providing as full a range of customer service as possible and doing it on the highest level such as in a 5 star hotel or just letting them know that you care about the clients and that you are grateful for their custom.  This is exactly what distinguishes hospitality for ordinary good service.

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