What it’s like to work as a customer experience manager in hospitality

4th June, 2024

customer experience manager in hospitality

In this article

In the competitive world of hospitality, delivering exceptional customer experiences is essential for success. Behind the scenes of every satisfied customer interaction lies the diligent work of a customer experience manager (CEM). These professionals play a crucial role in ensuring every touchpoint with a customer leaves a positive impression, building loyalty and driving business growth.

But what does this role entail? From handling customer inquiries and feedback to collaborating with cross-functional teams and analyzing data, the customer experience manager position is dynamic and exciting. In this article, we’ll explore what it’s like to work as a customer experience manager, offering insights into the daily responsibilities, challenges, rewards and opportunities for growth. Whether you’re considering a career in customer experience management or simply curious about the inner workings of this vital role, we have got you covered.

Understanding the role of a customer experience manager in hospitality

Tasked with overseeing and managing all aspects of the customer or guest experience within an organization, customer experience managers are responsible for making sure customers interact positively with the company at every touchpoint.

Nearly 86% of consumers say they would leave a brand or company after two bad experiences. That’s why customer experience managers strive to ensure clients never have two negative incidents – and hopefully not even one.

In the hospitality industry, these managers play a pivotal role in ensuring guests have exceptional experiences during their stay. Here’s a closer look at the responsibilities and duties typically associated with the role:

  • Enhancing guest satisfaction: improving customer satisfaction by overseeing all aspects of the guest experience. This includes making sure guests are welcomed, ensuring smooth check-in and check-out and addressing concerns or requests promptly and effectively. It also entails ensuring the entire customer journey is streamlined and delivers a positive experience
  • Managing guest feedback: CEMs are responsible for managing guest feedback and customer complaints. They seek feedback from guests through surveys, comment cards and personal interactions and use it to identify areas for improvement and implement corrective actions as needed
  • Training and development: CEMs provide ongoing coaching and support to staff members, emphasizing the importance of guest satisfaction and empowerment to resolve issues independently
  • Creating memorable experiences: creating memorable experiences for guests by organizing special events, activities and preparing amenities tailored to guest preferences and interests. This may include arranging personalized welcomes, coordinating special celebrations or offering unique experiences exclusive to the property
  • Implementing service standards: a key part of the role is to ensure consistency in the guest experience. CEMs develop and communicate service guidelines, standard operating procedures and quality assurance measures to staff members, ensuring service delivery meets or exceeds guest expectations
  • Monitoring and analyzing metrics: assessing data related to guest satisfaction, such as guest satisfaction scores and online reviews. They use this to identify trends, patterns and areas for improvement, guiding strategic decision-making and continuous improvement efforts
  • Upholding brand standards: ensuring all interactions with guests reflect the brand values, ethos and promises, contributing to brand loyalty and differentiation in the market
  • Collaborating with cross-functional teams: working with teams such as housekeeping, front desk, food and beverage and maintenance to ensure seamless coordination and delivery of services. Customer experience managers encourage a culture of teamwork and communication to improve the overall guest experience

A day in the life of a customer experience manager

A day in the life of a customer experience manager

A day will often start with the CEM reviewing their schedules and prioritizing tasks. They may begin with a morning meeting or huddle with their team to discuss goals, updates and any pressing issues or challenges. They may also review customer feedback and metrics from the previous day to identify any emerging trends or areas that require immediate attention. The CEM then  sets objectives and develop strategies to address customer needs and improve the overall customer experience.

Daily tasks: handling customer inquiries, feedback and complaints

Throughout the day, customer experience managers are actively engaged in responding to customer inquiries, feedback and complaints across various channels, including email, phone, social media and online chat. They prioritize resolving customer issues promptly and effectively, ensuring customers feel heard, valued and supported.

Customer experience managers also work with frontline staff or customer service representatives to address complex or escalated customer concerns, providing guidance and assistance as needed. They also review customer surveys or feedback forms to gain insights into customer sentiment and identify areas for improvement in products, services or processes.

Collaboration: working with cross-functional teams to improve customer experience

Working closely with cross-functional teams across the organization to improve the overall customer experience is an important aspect of the role. It includes meeting marketing teams to align on messaging and promotions, product teams to provide input on product development and operations teams to streamline processes and workflows.

Analyzing data: reviewing metrics

Customer experience managers analyze data and metrics related to customer satisfaction, engagement and loyalty. They review key performance indicators such as customer satisfaction scores and customer retention rates to track the effectiveness of customer experience initiatives. By looking at data trends and patterns, they can identify areas for improvement.

Challenges and rewards of working as a customer experience manager

No role in hospitality management is easy. Some of the main challenges in working as a customer experience manager include:

  • Dealing with difficult customers: the role can throw up challenging situations when dealing with dissatisfied or irate customers. Addressing complaints and resolving conflicts while maintaining professionalism and empathy can be demanding
  • Managing high expectations: with the rise of social media and online reviews, customers have higher expectations than ever before. Customer experience managers must navigate these and strive to meet or exceed them, often under pressure
  • Addressing systemic issues: identifying and issues in the organization that negatively impact the customer experience can be a significant challenge. It may involve breaking down silos between departments, implementing process improvements and advocating for change

On the other hand, there are rewards associated with working as a CEM. Some of the main benefits of this role are:

  • Making a positive impact on customer satisfaction: one of the most rewarding aspects of working as a customer experience manager is the opportunity to make a tangible difference to customers. By implementing effective strategies and initiatives, CEMs can improve the overall customer experience, leading to increased satisfaction and loyalty
  • Seeing improvements in customer loyalty and retention: a key measure of success for customer experience managers is the improvement in customer loyalty and retention rates. Witnessing first hand the positive impact of their efforts can be highly rewarding and motivating
  • Contributing to the success of the business: ultimately, business success depends on delivering exceptional customer experiences. Companies with good customer experiences can achieve 4%-8% more growth than the industry average. Customer experience managers play a vital role in driving customer-centricity, contributing to long-term business success and sustainability

What is the salary for a customer experience manager?

Salary expectations in the hospitality industry can vary depending on factors such as geographical location, level of experience, education and the size and reputation of the organization. That said, you can expect to see an average salary of $113,000. Some organizations may offer additional perks and benefits, such as bonuses, profit-sharing, healthcare benefits and professional development opportunities, which can impact the overall compensation package for CEMs. To stand a chance of being paid the highest salaries in the hospitality industry, you should consider studying appropriate courses.

Learn from the best in customer experience

If you’re aiming for top-paid jobs in customer experience, see how a bachelor’s degree can improve your chances and make you more competitive.

Advice for aspiring customer experience managers

If you are interested in a career in this varied and exciting role, there are several ways you can improve your chances. Among these are:

  • Seek internship or entry-level positions: gain practical experience by taking up internships or entry-level positions in the hospitality industry, especially if they are customer-facing or handle customer feedback. This will provide valuable insights into customer interactions and challenges
  • Develop soft skills: hone your communication, empathy, interpersonal and problem-solving skills. These are essential for effectively managing customer interactions and building positive relationships
  • Join professional associations: customer experience management associations or networking groups are great for connecting with industry professionals and peers. Attend conferences, seminars and networking events to expand your professional network and stay informed about industry trends
  • Seek mentorship: find an experienced professional in the field who can provide guidance, advice and support. A mentor can offer valuable insights, share their experiences and help you navigate career challenges
  • Participate in industry forums: sign up to online forums, discussion groups and social media communities dedicated to customer experience management. Sharing knowledge and insights can help you expand your network
  • Pursue continuous learning: stay updated on industry trends, best practices and emerging technologies related to customer experience management. Consider enrolling in courses, workshops or online certifications to expand your knowledge and skills. A hospitality degree can be a huge boost for your career in experience management. While  not essential, roughly 68% of CEMs have at least a bachelor’s degree, meaning it can be handy to have one in this highly competitive field

Conclusion

Becoming a customer experience manager is a challenging and rewarding path. The role is varied and requires a combination of strategic thinking, empathy, communication skills and commitment to delivering exceptional customer experiences.

Despite the challenges of dealing with demanding customers, managing high expectations and addressing systemic issues, the rewards are significant. Making a positive impact on customer satisfaction, witnessing improvements in customer loyalty and retention and contributing to the success of the business are just a few of the rewarding aspects of the role.

For aspiring customer experience managers, the path to success involves gaining relevant experience and skills, networking with industry professionals and continuously developing yourself. It this sounds like the role for you, consider studying a hospitality degree from a renowned hospitality school such as Les Roches to get started. Or, if you are undecided, look at what other hospitality careers might suit you.