Service Minus Stress

SMS Alerts improve guest-staff relations by offering proactive service at Somerset Ho Chi Minh City

Issue: May 2011

Somerset Ho Chi Minh City
Somerset Ho Chi Minh City is one serviced residence that is continually innovating to make things better for guests

The Guest Service counter at serviced residence, Somerset Ho Chi Minh City, is an oasis of calm. One would have expected to see service staff busy toggling between managing phone calls and attending to face-to-face enquiries over the counter at this resort-style apartment that provides the ideal accommodation for international business guests. Instead, all is quiet and the Guest Service Officers (GSO) are always ready with a smile to attend to guests face to face. This has been made possible by a simple but innovative idea – an SMS communication system that pre-empts residents to problems before they ask questions.

“The team came up with an idea at one of our morning briefings. Of course I feel happy that this idea has not only helped to reduce stress for the GSOs but has also helped to avoid unnecessary complaints from the residents, thus enhancing guest satisfaction,” says Acting Assistant Residence Manager, Chung Minh Van.

SMS alerts
SMS alerts now link the staff of Somerset Ho Chi Minh City to its residents allowing for prompt communication

“We were discussing the breakdown of a television channel when the idea struck. In the past, when incidents like these happen, the guests would get frustrated and call the Guest Service counter asking questions like what happened, why and when it would be fixed,” says Van.

The Guests Service counter would receive more than 20 calls at a time when any technical breakdown occurs and the officers would have a difficult time attending to all the calls.

“It was stressful because a lot of residents would be angry and there would be so many calls coming through,” recalls Guest Service Officer Tran Qui Bao.

The idea was to be proactive, SMS residents and keep them updated about the problem before the calls started coming in. In addition, residents would be told of the steps taken to address the problems and informed when the problem was solved. Since everyone has a mobile phone these days, it was easy to collect the numbers of all the long-term residents to implement this idea.

The trial run that started early last year was so successful that the residents had nothing but praise for the system. One even wrote to say it was a “great initiative” and to “keep it up”.

Residents aren’t the only ones that who have positive responses to the system.

“I feel happy because the management is always trying to find ways to improve our work processes and enhance the guests’ staying experience at the same time. The SMS communication system is one such example,” says Bao.

Telephone calls to the Guest Service counter have reduced by as much as 95% and the system has been officially put in place since June 2010.

Steamed rice cake class and fun fair
Residents are now informed about activities such as the Steamed Rice Cake cooking class and the Mid Autumn Fun Fair organised by Somerset Ho Chi Minh City through SMS alerts

One idea, many uses

The SMS alert system has since been used for more than just updating about problems that have taken place.

“We use it to update our residents about social events and to keep them informed about potential traffic situations,” says Van.

For example, there was a recent soccer match between Vietnam and Thailand. The final was expected to be a hotly contested and closely watched game because of the nation’s love for the sport and the longstanding rivalry with Vietnam.

“Every time the Vietnam team wins, people will celebrate on the streets by waving flags. It sounds like fun but it can be an inconvenience, too, because it causes massive traffic jams. We knew that Vietnam was expected to win so we informed our residents about the possibility of a jam,” says Van.

Thanks to the SMS alert, Singaporean Luanne Lim, who has been a resident since September 2008, was able to rush home before the match ended and avoid getting caught in traffic.

The SMS alerts have also been extended to notices. Instead of putting up notices on the boards to keep residents informed about what was happening. Somerset Ho Chi Minh City now uses SMS. This paperless system has helped to save over 300 pieces of A4 paper since it was implemented a few months ago. Apart from being green, it saves time for the staff and ensures the residents get updated in a timely manner.

Well-treated staff
Well-treated staff make for proactive ones and Somerset Ho Chi Minh City is certainly reaping the benefits of this understanding

Staff Sensitive Management

Such consideration for its staff and residents is a hallmark of Somerset Ho Chi Minh City. Employees who go the extra mile in their service to residents also get an extra-mile treatment from the management.

One such employee was Thanh Hoa.

Lee Sung Hwan of KB Kookmin Bank, a resident of Somerset Ho Chi Minh City commends Thanh Hoa for her excellent service towards residents.

Thanh Hoa and Van
A star treatment for star performer, Thanh Hoa, complete with chauffered ride to work, complimentary breakfast and bouquet of flowers

“I enjoy my stay at Somerset Ho Chi Minh City because of Guest Service Officer Thanh Hoa. She is really helpful and takes good care of the residents. She listens to the residents attentively and always tries to solve the problem for them,” compliments Lee.

For her service excellence, Thanh Hoa was rewarded with a surprise chauffeured ride to work one morning.

“We knew she did not have her own motorbike so I personally went to pick her up with the company car. We even gave her a bouquet of flowers and a complimentary breakfast,” says Van. “The Vietnam Country General Manager, Richard Tan, also personally handed her a letter in recognition of her efforts and commended her on her exceptional work. She was so touched.”

Thanh Hoa being presented with letter
Country General Manager of Vietnam, Richard Tan, showing management’s appreciation to Thanh Hoa for a job well done

It is such treatment of the staff that has yielded an environment where employees are willing to give it their all in effort and innovation. This has in turn made Somerset Ho Chi Minh City a serviced residence that has gotten nothing but rave reviews from residents.

Stay with us in Ho Chi Minh City at…

Somerset Ho Chi Minh City
No 8A Nguyen Binh Khiem Street,
District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Tel: (84-8) 3822 8899
Fax: (84-8) 3823 4473
Email: enquiry.hochiminh@the-ascott.com

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