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Talking Quality Assurance with John Austin

Special thanks to Monscierge team member, John Austin, for the insights contained in this post. With an extensive background in software testing and game, web, and graphic design, John brings valuable experience in building and using beautiful, useful, intuitive products.

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What does “Quality Assurance” mean to you?

Broadly, QA is about setting quality expectations for your products, and ensuring that those expectations are delivered.  The methods are different per department, or per industry, but that’s the base.  That said, I personally see QA as an opportunity to make things better.  Meeting standards isn’t the end, it’s the beginning.  There’s always opportunity to build, grow, and improve, and I think every person at Monscierge embraces that ideal.  QA is a step to ensure that the foundation is solid.

What does your work day look like?

It varies greatly from day to day, but the majority of my time is spent with our software.  Our Development team is always building new products, or improving our existing products.  Each new piece needs to be tested and reviewed, which is where I come in.  Bugs, usability issues, anything that would negatively impact our customer’s experience must be identified, reported, corrected, and re-tested for quality.  That’s a big part of my day to day.

When you are testing products, what are you looking for in terms of design?

In terms of design, the first thing I look for is, “does the product meet the need(s) it was designed for?”  Pretty basic.  The second thing is, “does the product meet these needs well?”  It’s one thing to have a great tool.  It’s something completely different if that tool creates an experience you love.  Is it simple and intuitive to use?  Does it look great?  Does it feel great when you use it?  User experience is a big deal, especially when it comes to the guest experience at a hotel.  If the guest has a sense of effortlessness and empowerment, you’ve got a winner.  Trust, loyalty and gratitude will follow.

What advice would you give to someone searching for a technology provider?

Investigate how dedicated they are to the quality of their own product.  Not every company or team has a dedicated QA department, which is unfortunate.  That said, quality assurance is mandatory in one form or another, and it needs to happen internally.  Once in a while something will slip by, unnoticed.  Such is the nature of software development.  However, you don’t want to be on the receiving end of a product that hasn’t been thoroughly tested in the first place.  So, make sure they have systems in place to ensure you get the product you both expect.  If something ever does slip, you need to know that they are dedicated to correcting it.

Secondly, look for a company that is deeply invested in their own product.  It should be who they are, not a side project.  It defines them, and they’ll strive to make it better.  A saying that frequently flies around the office is, “we make products we want to use.”  That’s a big deal.  And if something slips through the cracks, it becomes top priority.

Third, look for a company that is as invested in you and your brand as they are their own.  In other words, find someone who has your needs in mind, long after the contracts have been signed.  They’ll take care of you because they want to, not because they have to.  Their level of support will far exceed what is simply mandatory.

Traveling with Kids – Top 5 Experience Enhancers

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I returned a few days ago from vacation with family that included my children, a couple sisters and their husbands, and a bunch of nieces and nephews. Twenty-two people, to be exact. While accompanied with a fair amount of chaos, this was by far one of the best trips we have taken, due in large part to the resort where we stayed. Following are five pivotal moments that made us decide to return as often as we can.

  1. Arrival: The front desk staff was friendly and welcoming. They gave us a short rundown of where to find the important places within the resort as well as a few local recommendations they thought we would find interesting. Within two minutes, we had general knowledge of our surroundings, a solid welcome, and keys in hand.

    The kicker: We arrived just at dinner time with cars full of road-weary children. The front desk staff handed us a menu for pizza delivery along with a coupon for a free pizza. There is no better way to greet children than free pizza.

  2. Rooms: When we walked into our rooms, we immediately felt relaxed. Comfortable furnishings, cozy atmosphere, and immaculately clean. Everything was in top shape, the surroundings were gorgeous, and there was not a flaw to be seen.

    The kicker: Our rooms had been upgraded, simply because the nicer ones were available. One benefit the resort will get from that upgrade is that we all decided that we would pay extra to have the same rooms again next year. Another benefit: We immediately took to social media to rave about the place.

  3. On-Site Experience: While we had a few definite activities planned, we left about half of our time open for spontaneity or relaxing. The resort staff did a wonderful job of making us feel like locals during that down time. The most surprising thing to me was that my children unanimously say the best part of the trip was just hanging out in our rooms.

    The kicker: Traveling during the school year to a destination geared more toward retirees than children, we were the only people in the entire place with kids. The resort was still well-equipped with DVDs, books, games and puzzles to borrow, as well as very good sound-proofing. We met the neighbors we shared a wall with on the last day, and neither of us had heard a peep from the other during the entire week.

  4. Local Experience: We happened to be staying in a resort town, which meant nearly everyone we came into contact with had caught the hospitality bug. It’s not a direct reflection on the hotel, but it did go a long way toward our overall experience. While probably not collaboration between hotel owners and local merchants, it is mutually beneficial. It made me wonder if some of these tourist-y towns have customer service training for the entire area.

    The kicker: There were local goods available everywhere. We managed to bring home goodies to share with friends as well as a few items for our home. I have said this before, but access to handmade items from local providers not only enhances the stay, but also serves as a subtle reminder throughout the year. Every time my daughter curls up in the woven afghan we purchased there that now drapes our couch, she asks when we’re going back.

  5. Checkout and Post-Stay: Five adults trying to corral seventeen kids (and their stuff) into three cars for a very long drive home after a week of being completely spoiled was just like you’d expect. Our check-out was quick – less than a minute – but friendly. The person at the desk seemed to understand that we just needed to be on our way. (By the way, not one surprise charge, which would have held us up and provided a not-so-great final moment.)

    The kicker: About two days after our return, I received an email thanking us for our stay. It had a survey attached, along with information for future travel plans. Because our entire stay was wonderful, I was happy to provide positive feedback and will absolutely be returning.

Overall, we had a fantastic and stress-free week, for which I am truly grateful. Hospitality plays a role in the memorable moments of people’s lives – happy or sad. No matter what the reason for an away from home stay, travelers need comfort in a welcome, a room, a hot meal, and even a goodbye. Those with the hospitality spirit know how to make the memorable moments worth remembering.

Creating Loyal Customers

Today’s post is written by our Senior Account Manager, Elizabeth Robinson. She’s a natural customer service leader and has been an asset to Monscierge for over four years.

Loyal Customer

 

What makes loyal customers?  Is it the product? The price?  A lot of companies will market to their consumers as “Having the best product” or “Being the cheapest” or “Getting the most for your money”.  That type of marketing can entice many buyers to purchase a product, however, how many of those buyers return?

I started asking myself what makes me return to a particular restaurant or purchase additional services from a company, and I discovered that loyal customers can be achieved in three simple ways:  Listen to their needs. Prove your loyalty. Make them happy.

Listen to their needs:  You must be able to understand their needs and guide them through to the solution.

Prove your loyalty:   Take their ideas and think outside the box to see how you can make them a reality.

Make them happy:   Listen to their frustrations and correct it with sincere understanding. Be the “savior” when they need help with something at the last minute before an important account walks through the door.

A customer that feels you are always there, ready to help them, will not only be more inclined to purchase from you again but will also refer you to others.

At Monscierge, we strive to know our customers better than anyone.  We work with them to understand their needs, gather their ideas, and implement a customized solution for their property.  Every property is different. It is not a cookie cutter solution—it is a solution that is personalized to you.

Hotel Apps: A Mobile Staff

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Our latest Guest Experience Management Report covers an issue I have seen brought up countless times over the last few months – how to go beyond developing and maintaining a fantastic app to the place where people are actually using it.

This report outlines staff app adoption by department, creative ways to talk to your guests about your app (without adding more stress to the check-in process), and further reading to keep you in the know about this technology.

Also, find out exactly how your property can benefit from multilingual features of your app by using it to enhance personal connections and streamline services.

You can get your complimentary copy of the report here, and as always, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Tweet using #GuestExperience or send us an email.

My Time at Monscierge: Fleur Miessan

Fleur Miessan

Fleur Miessan is my name and I’m originally from Cote d’Ivoire, a beautiful country located on the cost of  West of Africa. Knowledge, curiosity and adventure makes up among the reasons why I migrated to the USA. I’m currently pursuing a Graduate Degree in Leadership and Organizational Development at the Oklahoma Christian University.

When looking from the outside perspective of a layman, I never imagined that there was so much going on in the world of hospitality. I could only see the checking in and out, and never considered interest in the advancement of their technology. Therefore, I had no idea bout the brains behind the scenes in the hospitality world until I got the opportunity to work at Monscierge early this summer.

In effect, like any other, the hospitality industry also needs innovations in order to ensure its growth and expansion. Monscierge has really proven to be a linchpin in their development and expansion. They do a very good job in coming up with brilliant ideas for the guests in hotels to find themselves at home whenever they travel around the world. How to communicate effectively with the hotel staff, how to meet their own needs, and more importantly how to enjoy their stay is just a click away. I was very amazed to know that some people were interested in the well-being of hotels and their guests.

At Monscierge, it all starts with a careful analysis of the guests (customers). While developing an app for a hotel here at Monscierge, we make sure to meet the needs of the guests by being the guests, thinking like them and acting as such; will we use the app if we were to travel and stay in a hotel? What functions would we like to have in the app? How effective can it be? How can we use it?, are questions we ask in order to improve the app. It is in effect our job and responsibility to process the purpose and come out with reasons for guests to not only download our app, but to also help drive them with a reason to use it. Like Eric Schmidt, Former Executive Chairman of Google said “None of us is as smart as all of us”, emphasizing the importance of teamwork from the brainstorming stage through the completion of the app till it is officially sell-able.

Monscierge has made me realize that it is possible to make the stay in a hotel relaxing, enjoyable and peaceful, leaving both the guest and the host happy. Monscierge has taught me that better and greater things can be developed in the hospitality industry. I have learned about things that I never knew as far as creativity was concerned,  and I am eager to learn even more because learning never exhausts the mind and the more I learn, the more valuable I will be.

Everywhere I have been, everything I have been taught here at Monscierge, every challenge I have faced and still am facing, will build who I am, and the experience or lessons I gain and  learn will be of great use and I look forward to a more creative and growing environment here at Monscierge.