Aiming to be the hotel loved by customers by listening to customers sincerely JR Kyushu Hotels(Hotel business)

JR Kyushu Hotels Co Ltd

Interview: Hiroshi Tateyama,
Compile: Hirotaka Nishiyama
※The content of the article applies during the time of the interview. The situation may change by time. 

JR Kyushu Group emphasizes on Customer Impressive Satisfaction (CIS) and Employee Impressive Satisfaction (EIS.) One of the examples is the JR Kyushu hotels which was opened in November 2011 in the area where hotel business is very competitive, but was able to secure outstanding impression from the customers. This great effort and success present one of our good examples. 

In order to grow a flower of impression in the customers’ mind

Within the Kyushu Area, JR Kyushu Hotels, which located in all areas that can be reached by JR Trains, are the hotels that are trusted by the customers and are very popular among both tourist and business travelers. Now the hotel has 8 branches in Kyushu Island and Yakushima Island. We do not believe that only making customers satisfy is enough. We want to be evaluated as a high- quality service hotel. In order to achieve that, we need to improve the staff performance.

President Ohama states that “All of the staff in the hotel need to be aware of the customers’ need by using their eyes, awareness and heart in order to be able to make the flower of impression bloom. The most important thing is all of the staff must be happy. The workplace must be happy. Then, there will be improvement in everyday.”

Especially from spring 2012, we have a monthly meeting that focus on the CIS・EIS. The meeting is participated by the executive and the service master (person in charge of service). There had been many great improvements since then, especially in the Kiyazaki branch, which has been open for less than 2 years.

President Kazuhiko Ohama

「You should be more used to the job」, the shocking strict words

Risa Sakaguchi, one of the staff recalled, “Our hotel opened on November 3, 2011. The executive, sub-executive, manager and the other 9 employee only came together one month before the opening of the hotel. Of all the 9 staff, 7 were inexperience. It was very difficult to train all the staff and prepare the opening of the hotel at the same time.”

Sakaguchi also stated further that “One of the first thing that the staff had to face was the harsh comment form the guests. For example, “The staff should be more used to the work. They should improve more to be at professional level,” “The service was not as good as expected,” or “I do not think that I will come back again.” If this continue, the trust of the customers towards the brand JR Kyushu overall will be lost.

Improvement plan from meeting: (1) Smile more、(2) Improve telephone call service、(3) Improve guidance of hotel to guests by staff、(4) Improve introduction of car park、(5) Improve breakfast

The point is how to become a hotel that is loved by the customers. If we cannot improve the situation, there is no future for the hotel. Hence, we were determined to improved ourselves better. We used the CIS・EIS system and hoped that the customers will say that they want to visit our hotel again.

The plan divided into 4 steps. First, from November to January is the period of understanding the situation, setting the target for improvement and find the reason for the problems. Next, from December to March is the period of implementing the improvement plan and analyze if they are effective. Then, the improvement plan will be carried out until July. After that, the result will be evaluated in August. Throughout the process, mystery shopping research was carried out in November, January, April, June and August.

In the hotel office, the vision of the hotel is shown clearly. The target of each month is written on the white board. The staff are determined to reach the target of each month.

Find our strength and make it stronger

First of all, everyone had to understand the situation of the hotel. The comment of the guests when the hotel first opened indicated that it the service of the staff towards the guests was not enough and the staff were not used to the work of the hotel. The problem was not only the fact that the staff were mostly new, it was also the fact that most of the staff were not from local area but from other part of the island. Hence, it was difficult to give a good explanation regard the local area to the customers. Also, the guiding in the hotel building and the website itself was not detailed enough.

At that time, we set a new target that all of the staff must be able to guide the guest at the same level by summer. In order to achieve that, we analyze the reason for the problem in detail and found that besides the human resource problem, the hotel 8-storey building itself also has a complex structure which is difficult to understand. Furthermore, 60% of the booking is done by internet. However, the details about the hotel on the internet is very little. The hotel also carries the JR brand, which most customers have a very high expectation on.

Because we had a lot of inexperience staff, aiming for a drastic improvement was difficult. We had a great deal of brainstorming about how to improve the hotel. As a result, we realized that we need to strengthen our strength and improve our weakness. Also, we realized that the staff needed to be united. Hence, all of our staff wrote a self-introduction sheet in order to know each other better.

One of an example of concrete improvement regarding check-in, a manual with picture has been made to make the guest easy to understand about how to open the door.

The staff who were originally from Miyazaki、made hand-make map and newspaper for the customers.

The staff work very hard to improve about points that were written in the comment of the report or on the internet regarding the hotel. They aim to (1) Strengthen their strength (2) Improve telephone call service、(3) Improve guidance to guest by hotel staff、(4) Improve car park guidance、(5) Improve breakfast.

Among the harsh comment we received from the guest, there was one comment from the guest which praised the smile of the staff. Hence, we decided to strengthen that and make the customers impress by using our smile.

Next, we also improved staff telephone operation. As mentioned earlier most of our hotel the room via the internet. However, the internet price changes corresponding to the peak season and low season. Hence, there are many inquiries regarding room fee. Hence, we made a timetable for the room fee to make the time needed to respond to the question of the customers as short as possible. Also, to make the guest feel welcomed, we had the following policies 1. Cheerful voice tone, 2. Call guest by name 3. Tell the guest that we will be waiting for them. By having these improvements, the complaints regarding the phone operation decreased.

Regarding the improvement of the guidance by the staff to the customers, we especially emphasize on the improvement of the reception staff which we carried out in 2 steps. Firstly, we had the 2 staff who were local to Miyazaki to make a manual showing the tourist spots and restaurants in Miyazaki. Secondly, we brought the staff to the tourist spots during their holiday to allow them to learn from the hand-on experience and asked them for their feedback. They also upload what they learn on their block and use their experience to improve the guidance for the guests.

The guests walk past the front desk when they go for breakfast. Hence, the staff tried to greet the guests as much as they can and make sure that they provide a timely service to the guests.

Furthermore, there are many comments regarding the carpark. Hence, we made a car park guidance video that give our guest about the carpark details and upload it on our website such that they can easily access and understand our facility.

These two staff who are from Miyazaki made a tourist map to be used to guide the guests. They even bring other hotel staff to these tourists places in order to have a real experience of the place and be able to explain to the guests.

We aim to be the hotel that make both the staff and guess smile.

After a great effort trying to understand our business condition and improve our operation. The guests finally recognize our effort. We received praising from the guests. Many of them stated that they will come back again. Our repeaters are expected to be increased.

With the great effort to improve since October, complaints from customers changes into praising.

As a result of using MSR, the ranking of hotel improved from 8th of 18 hotels in Kyushu Island participate in MSR to 1st and the repeaters also increased more than double.

Ms. Sakaguchi stated further that “At first when we started using MSR, we only received about half of the full score. However, in August, we received as high as 195 out of the 200 fill score. We also became the top of all the 18 hotels that undergo MSR in Kyushu Island.” This was a great positive respond to the effort of the staff. The sale in August was also 125% higher than the target. The hotel also became the top hotel in Miyazaki Prefecture. Undoubtedly, improvement in service brought about great improvement in the sale.

Brand recognition and repeater increased tremendously. The sale in August also increased 125% higher than the target. The rate of operation also increases sharply to , which marks a new record in Miyazaki area.

From now on, we will continue to carry out the monthly meeting. Ms. Sakaguchi stated that “We want to continue to be a hotel that give the highest priority to the guests’ opinion. Currently we receive many good evaluations from the guests and still plan to continue with the good service, such as the station building meeting point and tying up with JR Kyushu bus. We try to cooperate with the company within the group and local people to offer good service that will impress the customers.

Ms. Sakaguchi added further in the closing of the presentation that “From the October meeting, it was decided that the target of the hotel within one year is “to be the hotel that makes both the staff and the customers smile.” Within this year, we will try hard to improve the service to the guests and support to the staff even further in order to achieve the target.”

At 「JR Kyushu Hotels groups Improvement Presentation,」 Ms. Sakaguchi is giving a presentation regarding the improvement of the hotel which was highly recognized and applauded.

The Keyword is “Family.” Everyone helps supporting each other. Mr. Hiroyuki Koga, Executive of JR Kyushu Hotel Miyazaki

As mentioned earlier, most of our staff were inexperience. They did not know how to operate even the most basic hotel operation or even answer telephone calls. It was a very tough beginning. The manager and other experienced staff tried to teach them the operation. However, it was difficult to be at the professional immediate as soon as the hotel opened.

In order to operate the hotel smoothly, we emphasize greatly that all of our staff are part of the “Family.” At the hotel opening staff party, we agreed that no one at the hotel is our father or mother, but everyone is each other’s sibling. We have to help each other so as to protect our family. Thus, each and every of the staff is very important. When I myself reflect on my experience, I also feel that the smile of the staff working in the hotel is the most important thing. We have to make a cheerful hotel that the staff can work in the environment that they feel comfortable with.

When everyone keeps the fact that we are family in mind, the unity among the staff naturally strengthens. Everyone became even more eager to know about each other more, including strengths and weaknesses of each other. This brought the service of the hotel to a higher level and made the customers became even more impressed in the hotels. The staff also gave their opinion even more actively in the monthly meeting to improve the service of the hotel even further.

Now the brand recognition of the hotel is becoming higher. There is also a great increase in the repeater. The rate of operation is also becoming more stable. Compare to when the hotel first opened in 2012, the hotel staff now can work much more smoothly together, reflecting their great effort.

The hotel was first in operation from November 2011. At that time, there were only Executive, Sub-executive, manager and 9 staff working to start off the business. However, of the 9 staff, 7 of them were inexperienced. Hence, we tried hard to strengthen our strength and improve our weakness in order to make customers impress.

The meeting that has been carried out since 2013 until now has proven fruitful. The customer and staff satisfaction has also improved as a result of the staff’s great effort. The staff also share the same target, which is “To be the hotel that make both the guests and staff smile.”