Why Customer Service Is Still King
By Steven Belmonte CEO, Vimana Franchise Systems LLC | October 28, 2008
We all know the first rule of thumb for survival in the service industry is "customer service is king'; and we have heard the complaints lately about how it's deteriorating at rapid speed. Most companies are finally realizing that cost-cutting methods may work in the short run (i.e. automated phone messages as opposed to a live person on the other end to take calls), but they tend to fail in maintaining customer loyalty in the long run. We've been there, done that, and learned from it. But what's not really being addressed is the customer service that takes place within the corporate office.
Even though Rome, one of the greatest cities in the world, was not built in a year, employee loyalty can be built in a fraction of that time. Gone are the days of workers jumping from one job to another every six months looking for a better IPO plan. The workers of today want to build a family-like environment where they work. After all, they spend more hours a day at the office than at home. So there's a built-in investment already there.
Within the corporate realm, company loyalty needs to be cultivated. As our parents taught us that 'trust needs to be earned,' the same applies to our employees - we need to earn their trust and loyalty. When we demonstrate that we are invested in their contributions to the company and want to help them succeed in the industry, we give our employees a sense of pride. That, in turn, makes our employees invest more in the hotel and promote the business in a positive manner.
A good part of my business involves talking to managers and supervisors all around the country at all levels of the industry-and I can tell which companies are healthy and which are not. The healthy ones are where the employees take pride in their work and work hard for its success. You can see how they become a part of the company's DNA and it reflects in the way they treat their guests. It's a form of paying it forward, if you will. The bottom line is that investment into our employees begets company loyalty, mutual rewards, increased motivation, increased company morale, increased productivity, which all leads to greater ROI.
The truth of the matter is that management sets the tone for a hotel, a chain, a company, for the whole industry, really. Here are two examples of what I mean, the first an example of excellent management; the second of terrible management.
The first example is about FedEx, and it happened to a friend of mine. He needed to drop off a package early in the morning, but got to the Fed Ex office 15 minutes before it opened. While he waited on the sidewalk, his back to the door, the FedEx clerk unlocked the door, came out to the street, tapped him on the shoulder and said, "May I help you, sir?" At which point, she had him come in - still before the store officially opened-so he wouldn't be detained. My friend, obviously, was impressed. Guess which company he always patrons when he wants to send a package?