Delivering online customer service like a 5-star hotel


Share on LinkedIn

I’m a regular reader of customer service blogs by Shep Hyken, and Bill Quiseng, and both of them recently wrote about the hotel customer experience. If you think about it – like they did – hotels (and especially luxury hotels and resorts) are in a unique position to deliver exceptional customer service.

Apart from healthcare services, no other service can get as up close and personal with a customer:
– The entire holiday or business trip is one purchasing experience that lasts anywhere from one night to several weeks, so there’s bound to be an impression made.
– There’s a huge number of touch points between arrival and checkout.
– People are usually receptive to service from hotel staff.

So the question is: how can online retailers impart a five-star impression every single day?

Greeting on arrival
Using adequate chat applications, online stores can offer a personal greeting, just like the smiling concierge would. Unfortunately, many chat conversations initiated by customer service give the impression of lurking – and we don’t want that. This can easily be fixed with a casual, welcoming greeting as opposed to the typical, “How can I help you?” opener. Perhaps try this: “Hi there. Thanks for stopping by. I’m on hand to improve your shopping experience, so just reach out if you have any questions.”

Even before they’ve arrived, hotel guests will quite often receive an email with touristic and dining suggestions for the area they’re about to check into. Whilst you can’t anticipate a new visitor coming to your website, you can use the previous browsing history of a customer to serve up suggested products when they return to your webshop. Amazon is a great example of a company recommending products based on previous purchases and browsing history.

Human connection
One of the best hotel reviews I read simply said: “It’s not for the quality of the sheets that I recommend this hotel, but the human connection I made with many members of staff.” It’s difficult to create human connections with the internet between you and your customers, but proactive chat and social media engagement on Facebook and Twitter will help build the relationship.

Ask questions
Great hotels understand that the sales principle of asking questions applies to exceptional customer service too. How else would you know what’s important to a hotel guest unless you asked? Static websites don’t allow for Q & A, but with a chat solution, you can ask the right questions that will result in a satisfied purchase. For example, what occasion are you shopping for and what budget do you have in mind?

Post sale follow up
The post-sale follow-up email is essential. Thank your customers for their patronage, survey them about their customer experience, and entice them back with a discount on their next purchase. Voilà, you’re happy, they’re happy – and chances are they’ll tell their friends about your outstanding performance!

Basically, if you wait for customers to contact you, you’re really waiting for your webshop to shut down. Create a memorable experience, however, and you’ll be building ongoing customer loyalty. It’s up to you – not your customers!

Denise Parker
Denise Parker is marketing guru of Casengo. This social customer support software in the cloud helps companies to respond to their customers with greater ease and a human touch. Casengo, developed in Amsterdam, will be released to the public this Fall. You can register as a beta tester by leaving your email address on


  1. Denise, thanks for this post. Great ideas.

    I’m curious if you know any online retailers that put these ideas into practice, so that they create a memorable — not just automated — customer experience.


  2. Thanks for the question Bob. It’s difficult to find an online retailer incorporating all these elements, but, whilst not proactive in their engagement, provides a great online experience. For electronics, Philips are great at handling technical questions.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here