3D Service: A New Dimension in Service Excellence

By Roberta Nedry President & Founder, Hospitality Excellence, Inc. | January 15, 2010

Get your 3D glasses ready. The current renaissance of 3D movies is taking the entertainment industry by storm as audiences are drawn deeper into the many dimensions of a film. Physical and visual affects powerfully enhance viewer experiences and the box office shows proof. Analysts' estimate3D movies are attracting at least 10 percent more viewers than 2D equivalents with each person willing to pay almost $4.00 more per ticket. Consumers are seeking more satisfying entertainment moments through this visually immersing movie effect and appreciate the multi-sensory impact, effect and depth of the movie experience.

Service has many dimensions as well when recognized. Consider how a "3D" approach to guest experience management will impact any hospitality environment. While one may think that service involves one action and in turn one response at a time, the perception that service is one or two dimensional is limiting and does not fully realize the potential of truly exceptional service delivery and impact. Just as 3D Movies draw the audience deeper into the film, there are many types of behavior that can take both guests and employees deeper into the world of exceptional service delivery. Multi-dimensional service awakens both the service provider and service recipient to the things which may be obvious but more significantly, those actions and behaviors that are hidden from view. Multi-dimensional awareness of service delivery is essential to creating memorable guest experiences and recognizing that all of our senses are in play when we encounter each moment.
Take a look at how science defines the 3D concept. Classic physics describes three physical dimensions from a particular point in space. The basic directions we can move are up and down, left and right and forward and backward. Frequently, in service delivery, everyone runs in too many directions. With more focus, we can apply classic physics to service delivery and think of these dimensions as they relate to the hospitality industry. Consider procedures or day to day operations as one dimension. Consider personal behaviors in service delivery as two dimensional. These lead to the basic guest and employee experience. Moving beyond the first and second dimension and adding a third, depth perception, is what leads to the multi-dimensional world of service excellence.

The Procedural Side of service involves the tasks at hand, and the systems and procedures necessary to make service happen. They consist of the established systems and processes to deliver services and amenities to guests. This includes things like the system used to take reservations, the procedures followed to check-in a guest, the processes followed to maintain the property, the workflow of preparing for a banquet, and the like. The Procedural Side is the systems, tools and methods used to deliver products and services to guests.

The Personal Side of service is how team members use their attitudes, behaviors and verbal skills to interact with guests. The personal dimensions of service are the way one greets guests, the manner in which one listens to their needs and requests, and the care taken at each Touchpoint, each point of contact. It's the emotional experience that is created for guests! It's how guests are made to feel.

Now, to join the 3D Trend, add the perceptual piece, the depth, that creates the more fulfilling and complete result for the guest experience. The perceptual piece is the added dimension that allows any service provider to better understand how a guest will perceive any one action, interaction or moment as it happens. It is the ESP, the Extra Service Perception that will consistently drive the ultimate guest experience. It is understanding the emotions that take place between service provider and recipient. It is anticipating how a guest might react and therefore how to anticipate presenting more positive moments and responses. ESP understands consequences of service moments gone awry and the ability to recover from them quickly.
For example, a newly married couple honeymooned at the highly acclaimed Ritz Carlton, Naples, on Florida's West Coast. True to form, they experienced exceptional service with all three dimensions in play, especially for a reservation made at a well –known national steak and seafood restaurant. The procedures: the reservations and arrangements; the personal efforts to get them a fantastic table and a complimentary appetizer; and especially the overall effort by the Ritz staff and the restaurant waiter made in the words of this couple, "a wonderful impression", helped create a deeply meaningful evening, moments to be treasured and an unforgettable experience for these newlyweds. The employees of both the Ritz and the restaurant perceived what would really make this evening special and provided the depth that synchronized the whole experience.
Glowing from this experience, these same newlyweds sought out the same restaurant on the East Coast of Florida, believing that they would receive similar care, attention and service, even if it was not their honeymoon night. Wrong! In this couple's words, "we went back to this restaurant, based on our previous experience and our service wasn't even half as nice." They could not believe the difference in both delivery and attitudes. Why would two locations of the same restaurant chain, with the same procedures, the same products, the same philosophies, standards and training, be so dramatically different from location to location? They rewarded the restaurant chain with their loyalty, based on their first experience and ended up quite disappointed and now less likely to return. Lack of active perception of the guest experience made the difference.

Hoteliers and their employees must evaluate their own perspective versus the guest perspective. Many times employees try to please co-workers and their supervisors, follow procedures and policies and adapt their own perceptions of how guests are viewing the service experience. This leaves the guest's perceptions in last place. The 3D approach offers a unique way of driving service delivery by keeping all service delivery in the context of the role each team member plays in the complete service experience for the guest and customer.
Another example of just one touchpoint, one point of contact, which suffered due to lack of ESP, took place at a major brand hotel, in the Southeast. The alarm clock went off at 3am with blaring loud music, jolting the guests out of their deep slumber. They had arrived late after a long day so definitely did not want any alarm going off, much less one in the middle of the night. They were tired and did not check the clock before sleeping, but was it their responsibility? ESP had not been applied by the housekeeping team. They did not anticipate nor perceive all the senses that a guest would experience upon settling into their room, in this case SOUND! While most of their procedures to clean the room, prep the bed and ready the scene for arrival had been made, they missed this one step. They were not perceptive to the depth of the guest perspective. Consider that once ESP is considered, it may actually cause procedures and policies to be changed. A greater depth of understanding, a greater sense of Extra Service Perception, brings better guest experiences to the table.

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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.