Recently, my wife and I spent our anniversary at a hotel on the Oregon coast. It was a unique date because it marked the first time in our lives that we have been married as long as we were single: twenty-four years.
One night, my wife called the front desk and asked for a maintenance technician to come to our room and fix the drain in the tub because it was not draining properly. Fast forward a few minutes later and the maintenance tech knocks on the door. My wife answers it. The tech says he is there to fix the drain and heads straight to the bathroom. After several minutes of plunging (yes, he brought a plunger when a Zip-It was also needed) and grunting loudly, he took apart the drain plug and promptly announced that the hair wad had been removed and that the drain plug in the tub would not work. He told us we would only be able to take a shower instead of a bath. Then, he abruptly left.
Here are a couple of items to note from this story:
- The maintenance tech did not say hello to my wife. (Oh, she was super miffed about this!)
- He only brought a plunger when he should have brought two tools: a plunger and a Zip-It.
- While he worked, he grunted and groaned as he plunged the drain and took the drain plug apart.
- When he left, he did not ask if there was anything else we needed or inquire how our stay was going.
The maintenance tech detracted from the marriage milestone my wife and I were experiencing. While the poor customer service did not ruin our time together, it will always be attached to our memories of our twenty-fourth anniversary at that resort.
Customer service is critically important for the back-of-the-house staff. In the podcast Sea to Ski with Sarah and T, the hosts Tim Cafferty and Sarah Bradford explain in Season 1: Episode 5 that the back-of-the-house-staff are the face of the company.
This is so true!
Think about it; who on the staff team do the guest spend the most time with and have a greatest chance of seeing? The back-of-the-house staff.
Customer service training must be a part of the initial training a new employee receives and part of the ongoing training that all staff members receive.
Companies should train employees on the following:
- How to shake hands with clean or dirty hands
- How to look someone in the eye
- How to announce their presence when entering a property
- How to interact with guests
- How to stand with confidence
- What to do with their hands and feet as they stand and talk with guests
Once the initial training is complete, then retraining needs to happen each week.
In a stand-up meeting, the group retraining that occurs before everyone heads out to work should include taking five minutes to review a customer service principle. Groups should celebrate and read the guest comment cards that mention instances of the great customer service given.
In a day when “old-fashioned” customer service is a rarity, making the effort, especially in the height of the season, to provide great customer service will set you and your company apart.
If you are looking for great customer service material, read The Neon Signs of Service by Holly Stiel. It was written for hospitality professionals by a hospitality professional. You can use each chapter for a two-minute customer service training in your group each morning. It can also help you create your company’s own customer service program.