The Essence of Customer Service is to Inform and Inspire

By Arman Sadeghi CEO & Founder, Titanium Success | February 05, 2017

The easiest way for hotel executives to succeed is through service – to their staff and guests. For if an executive cannot inspire the former, then he will not be able to honor the needs and demands of the latter. Sometimes it takes an outsider to speak to this community – to address the managers and workers of a hotel – so this group can move forward together.Sometimes it takes a voice of independence to deliver a message of value, which is in fact a summons to strengthen the values of a hotel or a resort: To remind employees of the history of an institution, the heritage of a property and the loyalty of her patrons.

When I have the chance to speak to such a gathering, I try to have a conversation with these people. I have no monologue to rehearse, no soliloquy to recite, no maxims to record. I come to listen, not lecture; I use the microphone as a tool, not a truncheon. I talk about service because that is the one thing every hotelier can offer, that is the one thing every hotelier must provide.

For the hotel executive without a big marketing department, or for the professional running a boutique property without the many features of a nearby competitor, the great equalizer is – and will always be – service. f you exceed a guest's expectations, if you make attentiveness a priority and establish a precedent for discretion, if you stand ready to accommodate a traveler's wants and know how to take a step back to ensure the privacy of each visitor, then you will develop a reputation for – your staff will enjoy acclaim for their commitment to – excellent service. While this point may seem obvious, it is too often the casualty of other projects and misguided agendas.

For example: A hotel may buy an expensive brand of software, something to automate reservations and select candidates for certain upgrades and amenities, or an executive may exhaust his budget on advertising and promotions, while neglecting to write – never bothering to produce – a statement of principles. That is, a hotel executive must clarify what things are indispensable to the success of his business. Beware the hotelier who does not put service at the top of this list. Avoid the individual who thinks service is a luxury, not a necessity.

Strike that: Before abandoning that person, make a first – or final – appeal to reason. Explain the rewards of superb customer service. Describe the dividends a hotel receives because of its investment in customer service. Detail the reaction, from present and potential patrons, when they get – or when they hear about – a property's bespoke brand of customer service. Remember, too, that achieving this goal does not involve mastering technology or studying some arcane system. Everything centers on training: Showing workers what to do and what to say, as well as showing them what not to do and say.

This constant pursuit of perfection requires daily practice. The key to doing this job well is to make the prose of practice invisible to the poetry of an employee's performance, so to speak. Just as a musician does not stop playing if he misses a chord or skips a beat, a hotel worker must make a mental note of an error without disrupting his duties to a guest. That is why, and I write these words from experience, a hotel executive should invite an independent adviser – a messenger with a mission – who can be an advocate for guests and an agent of change.

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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.