Excellent customer service standards are the holy grail of hospitality management. Endless time is spent discussing the subject, squillions are spent on training; yet we often hear comment lamenting the passing of ‘good old fashioned friendly service’, or words to that effect.
I am often asked to come to the offices of senior managers and the like in my professional capacity. Recently I was asked to speak with a particular gentleman in charge of a large hotel. His secretary arranged an appointment. An hour and a half prior to the appointed time his secretary rang and cancelled, requesting another time. This is not unusual in the consulting business, but to my amazement (and irritation), the following week they made another appointment and cancelled it at short notice again.
On the third attempt, I arrived at his office and was kept waiting for 45 minutes before being ushered in and seated. There was not a word of apology or platitudes of any kind for my inconvenience.
Are you expecting behaviour from your staff that you do not display yourself?
He proceeded to tell me some of his troubles. The main issue he wished to address was the a considerable amount of money he had spent on service training for no real result; customer feedback was still unsatisfactory.
After looking around the property and talking to the staff, the reason became apparent.
First, most of the staff who had been trained were no longer there. The hotel had a considerable staff turnover. Second, those staff who had stayed expressed fairly negative views toward their management and their company. The common attitude was that they were being exploited by an uncaring bureaucracy.
My experience with the GM and cancelled appointments was typical; the staff complained of the same treatment from managers right up the pyramid. Those who should have been shining examples of leadership were seen as unhelpful and obstructive.
It seems that no matter how good your staff are, you must have skilled, caring management to create excellent customer service. Too many managers forget that they are customer service workers too — the customers they serve are their staff!