Research Data Adds Glamour to Hotel Laundry

Posted March 9, 2017 at 8:29 pm

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review tells how a group of luxury hotels in London combined research of social media postings, interviews with hotel laundry staff and analysis of customer complaints to re-examine how customers relate to the laundry services that the hotels provide.

The result was improved service, and a better focus on the customers’ interest in fashion, rather than simply providing a laundry service.

“Fashion and clothing were central to the guest experience – much more so than we had realized,” wrote Ana Brant in the March 1 article on customer service. “To borrow Clayton Christensen’s phrase, our hotel laundry’s ‘job to be done’ is not cleaning dirty clothes; it is preserving and enhancing our guests’ sense of participation in the world of fashion.’”

The problem was the laundry staff didn’t share this view. A team was formed to collect and analyze data and size up the situation for improvements. “The innovation team concluded that we were neither seeing nor valuing our guests’ clothing as they did,” Brant wrote. “This disconnect inevitably led to errors, rising make-good costs, and worst of all, disappointed guests.”

As a result of these findings, laundry budget was increased by 30%, and an expert craftperson was hired to run the service. That move, coupled with a PR and social media campaign built around her, helped raise the status (and morale) of the department. Training and fashion education for the staff was provided as well, which further enhanced morale.

Bottom line? Going beyond investigating complaints to get a better handle on customer expectations opened the way to new business opportunities, such as cleaning the luggage of arriving guests and taking in laundry from high-income residents living in nearby Mayfair. “As a luxury brand, it is not enough to do everything well; that’s table stakes,” Brant wrote. “The key is to figure out what is most important to your customers and do it better than anyone else.” Click here for details.