Service Elevated! Seven Simple Ways to Elevate Customer Service

By Steve Curtin Founder, Steve Curtin LLC | October 23, 2011

Earlier this year, American Express conducted a survey exploring attitudes and preferences toward customer service. The survey revealed seven in ten Americans (70%) are willing to spend an average of 13% more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service.

Even so, the same survey indicated that six in ten Americans (60%) believe businesses haven't increased their focus on providing good customer service. Among this group, 26% think companies are actually paying less attention to service.

In my work, I routinely encounter the following paradox: "Why is it that businesses consistently claim to value customers, yet inconsistently deliver exceptional customer service?"

I'll answer that question later but for now consider these three truths about exceptional customer service:

  1. It involves job essence. Every employee's job is made up of both job function (the duties and tasks associated with a job role) and job essence (an employee's purpose or highest priority which, for employees at most companies, is to create a delighted customer).
  2. It's voluntary. While obtaining a valid method of payment (a job function) is required, smiling or making eye contact (job essence) is voluntary.
  3. It's free. While employees are paid to perform job functions, there's no extra charge to smile, make eye contact, or add enthusiasm to their voices.

Most employees in most service organizations are unaware of the above truths simply because no one's mentioned them. Instead, most managers spend time talking about job function, procedures, and operational efficiency while scrutinizing hours to schedule, forecasts, and profit and loss statements.

The result is employees who are blissfully unaware of the subtle opportunities they forfeit daily to demonstrate job essence, elevate the quality of their personal customer service, and make lasting positive impressions on the customers they serve.

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Coming up in April 2019...

Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.