Have you ever wondered what it’s like to run a spa? I’ve been doing research on hotels, their departments and structure for a series of books I’m working on. Since it’s been over a decade since I worked at a hotel—and it wasn’t nearly the caliber of establishment that I wanted my fiction hotel to be, I’ve been reading. A lot. My favorite resource has been a text book called Hotel Management and Operations by Rutherfod and O’Fallon. The edition I bought is four years old—and yes, they have a new edition out, but I’m a cheapskate and the price difference between the fourth and fifth editions was like 400% (it is a text book, remember.).
Anyway, I’ve been studying spa management because the main character in the book I’m starting on runs the hotel spa and I found some fantastic advice *every* customer service business should implement. Seriously. So I’m going to share just a few paragraphs:
“Guest CST [Customer Service Training] is a never-ending, all-inclusive process that bridges textbook training scenarios with operational realities… CST gives the employee the means to understand what is expected of them as a representative of the establishment and identifies what guests expect from their visit. Seeing the process from the guest’s point of view helps employees meet or exceed expectations. This minimizes the need to provide discounts or compensation in cases of service delivery problems. Discounting or “comping” goods and services is a knee-jerk response to poor services and should be reserved for the last effort in service recovery; CST should stress this.”
“CST requires that employees draw on their ability to empathize with the guest. This starts by training employees to suspend judgment of a situation, becomes attentive listeners, and know the right questions to ask. This allows them to understand the actual problem is. Training employees is this type of customer service delivery assist them in focusing on the salient issues and creating ways to address them.
Because CST is only going, employees can benefit from peers’ experiences. Vehicles to exchange this type of information can be as informal as role-playing and round-table discussions or as structured as an employee newsletter. Incentives, acknowledgements, and rewards for excellent customer service delivery are an integral part of the training program. Successful CST supports a skilled and unified staff, which translated into profitable operations. CST is an investment in property that owners can’t afford not to make.” (pg 59-60)
It seems that in today’s culture, emphasis on customer service (and more still, training and incentivizing employees) seems to fall by the wayside. Do the employees feel responsible for how an event goes? Do they feel ownership for the customer’s experience? If things aren’t as they should be, do they go out of their way to solve problems that crop up and make the customer, client or guest happy with the overall experience?
I recently attended a conference where things, of course, didn’t go quite according to plan (because anytime you have a large conference, something is bound to go awry.) Some employees we encountered made up answers to questions about problems we were experiencing and pretended there was nothing to be done. Others went out of their way to ensure that all problems were solved in an appropriate manner and verified that the results were satisfactory. The question asked after the event was whether the unhelpful employees were lazy, didn’t understand the question (language barriers), or didn’t feel empowered to find the answers and serve the guests properly. Did their supervisors provide them with the training necessary to deal with bumps in the process? The entire experience would have been far less stressful—for everyone—if the employees in question had felt empowered/incentivized to find solutions.
This is, unfortunately, a problem across almost all fields, and in all regions. When employees feel unappreciated, or there is a communication problem between management and those who interact directly with customers, there is a far greater chance that the customer experience will be substandard—whether you’re talking about a stop in the convenience store, a fast food restaurant, or a five-star hotel.
Okay, enough with the deep thoughts. Sometimes I really love my job—in what other profession would I learn so much about so many different industries?
By the way, I went onto random.org and selected a winner for my Awesome August Blog Hop. And the winner is Alison! Alison, I’ll be contacting you to get your mailing address. Thanks everyone for entering!