A Sense of Purpose: The Key to inspiring Superior Customer Service Quality

By Steve Curtin Founder, Steve Curtin LLC | April 01, 2018

After a 20-year career in the hotel industry, I've made some observations. Specifically, I've noticed that hotel reservations are routinely in order, linens are consistently changed, and meals are typically prepared to order, yet front desk agents don't always smile, housekeepers don't always pay attention to detail, and servers don't always display a sense of urgency. And for years I pondered the question: Why does customer service quality seem to hinge on the employee you happen to get, whether over the phone, online, or face-to-face?

In the following story, you will meet a hotel general manger named Brett who is grappling with some of the same questions. You will also meet his airplane seatmate, Evan, who provides fresh insights to inspire superior customer service quality by examining the totality of every employee's job role and connecting their day-to-day job duties to organizational purpose.

The leadership conference had ended an hour earlier and Brett Sharp, newly-promoted hotel general manager, and his regional director, Meg Daniels, were the final two attendees remaining in the cavernous meeting room as event staff worked around them to clear the tables and reset the room for the next function.

Meg was well respected for her ability to interpret potential causes of fluctuations in results, whether operations reports, P&L statements, or guest satisfaction scores. Having received the guest satisfaction scores for Brett's property during the conference, Meg seized the opportunity to discuss a recurring pattern she had detected: Although the incidents of hotel guests reporting a problem during their stay were down, so was guest satisfaction. In her experience, there was generally a correlation between a problem-free hotel stay and a satisfied hotel guest.

"Brett," asked Meg, "have you been able to spend much time with this period's guest satisfaction scores?"

"Oh, yes. Did you happen to notice all of us staking out our territory during lunch to pour over our numbers?"

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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.