In hospitality, your people are NOT your most important assets.

In hospitality, your people are NOT your most important assets.

In the book Good to Great, Jim Collins writes that “People are not your most important asset. The right people are.”

Stephen Covey, the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, claims that success in any job is 20% knowledge and 80% interpersonal skills. Ultimately, success in hospitality is all about interpersonal skills.

There are a lot of people wanting to enter the hospitality business. And for an industry set to take advantage of travel and tourism that will be generated by Gen X and baby boomers, that is good news. Unfortunately, while there are people who want to work in hospitality, there are many who simply are not the right people. As a resort general manager who personally interviewed every candidate finalist and as a former college instructor interacting with students and displaced workers from other industries, I feel that many people lack the necessary interpersonal skills because they have grown up or interacted with others in a generation far different from our own.

I am convinced that people can only deliver an experience that they themselves have experienced. In order to succeed in retail, they would have had to personally experience and learn from great examples of others exhibiting stellar interpersonal skills in their day-to-day interactions with travelers and guests.

But those opportunities to learn firsthand from face-to-face interactions have all changed in less than a generation. Not too long ago there was no direct deposit or internet banking. If we wanted to deposit our paycheck, we would have to go weekly to the bank. After a while, the teller got to know who we were, where we worked, what we did there, and regularly asked how work and our company were doing. Remember when gas station attendants checked your oil and tire pressure, cleaned your windshield, and asked you if there was anything else they could do for you for a little over a dollar per gallon? How bad has customer service gotten when we never see an attendant and actually pump our own gas for more than four dollars per gallon?

The average Facebook user today has 338 friends. When a person posts on his or her page, they don’t have a loss of self-esteem when only 50 “like” the post. The other 288 have ignored them and they are OK with that! Today, we have cell phones. But what are many doing with their cell phones? I’m so old I remember someone actually laughing out loud on my phone. Texting is really one-way communication. You don’t hear voice tone or inflection or a pause. In real life, there is no “delete” or “backspace”.

Where is the reinforcement of interpersonal skills in those experiences?

So, the experiences for many people are not full of good examples of emotional intelligence, body language, or verbal communication that only face-to-face interactions can teach. I believe that translates into the real world that is OK to ignore the guest and your co-workers. You don’t have to greet your co-workers every morning or every traveler who walks through the door. Having not experienced often enough good examples of communication, collaboration, or relationship-building skills, how will those people entering hospitality, the people you entrust to travelers and guests, be successful? And if you allow yourself to accept that level of performance as adequate, how will your businesses succeed?

The answer is that you, as manager, are responsible for the education of those who do not have those skills. For you to succeed in this very competitive travel and tourism marketplace, you will need the right people. You will need people who know how to consistently welcome your guests with eye contact and a smile, inform each traveler openly, transparently and interactively, listen and respond empathetically, and bid them a sincere fond farewell. So, you will need to ask the proper interview questions with the specific intent of finding out if the candidates have the necessary skills of expressing sincerity, empathy, and trust. And you will be the one who will have to educate the people you select to deliver that experience for your travelers and guests. Interpersonal skills training cannot simply end after the first-week orientation. It must be consistent and continual. Only then will you build the interpersonal skills of your staff to drive their success and yours.

#customerservice #customerexperience #hospitality #custserv #custexp #cx

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In customer service, your people are not your most important assets.

In retail customer service, your people are NOT your most important assets.

In the book Good to Great, Jim Collins writes that “People are not your most important asset. The right people are.”

Stephen Covey, the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, claims that success in any job is 20% knowledge and 80% interpersonal skills. Ultimately, success in retail customer service is all about interpersonal skills.

There are a lot of people wanting to enter the retail business. And for an industry set to take advantage of retail sales that will be generated by Gen X and baby boomers, that is good news. Unfortunately, while there are people who want to work in retail customer service, there are many who simply are not the right people. As a resort general manager who personally interviewed every candidate finalist and as a former college instructor interacting with students and displaced workers from other industries, I feel that many people lack the necessary interpersonal skills because they have grown up or interacted with others in a generation far different from our own.

I am convinced that people can only deliver an experience that they themselves have experienced. In order to succeed in retail, they would have had to personally experience and learn from great examples of others exhibiting stellar interpersonal skills in their day-to-day interactions with them.

But those opportunities to learn firsthand from face-to-face interactions have all changed in less than a generation. Not too long ago there was no direct deposit or internet banking. If we wanted to deposit our paycheck, we would have to go weekly to the bank. After a while, the teller got to know who we were, where we worked, what we did there, and regularly asked how work and our company were doing. Remember when gas station attendants checked your oil and tire pressure, cleaned your windshield, and asked you if there was anything else they could do for you for a little over a dollar per gallon? How bad has customer service gotten when we never see an attendant and actually pump our own gas for more than four dollars per gallon?

The average Facebook user today has 338 friends. When a person posts on his or her page, they don’t have a loss of self-esteem when only 50 “like” the post. The other 288 have ignored them and they are OK with that! Today, we have cell phones. But what are many doing with their cell phones? I’m so old I remember someone actually laughing out loud on my phone. Texting is really one-way communication. You don’t hear voice tone or inflection or a pause. In real life, there is no “delete” or “backspace”.

Where is the reinforcement of interpersonal skills in those experiences?

So, the experiences for many people are not full of good examples of emotional intelligence, body language, or verbal communication that only face-to-face interactions can teach. I believe that translates into the real world that is OK to ignore the customer and your co-workers. You don’t have to greet your co-workers every morning or every customer who walks through the door. Having not experienced often enough good examples of communication, collaboration, or relationship-building skills, how will those people entering retail customer service, the people you entrust to customers, be successful? And if you allow yourself to accept that level of performance as adequate, how will your businesses succeed?

The answer is that you, as manager, are responsible for the education of those who do not have those skills. For you to succeed in this very competitive retail marketplace, you will need the right people. You will need people who know how to consistently welcome your customers with eye contact and a smile, inform each customer transparently and interactively of the product’s or service’s function, liabilities, and advantages to them, listen and respond empathetically, and bid them a sincere fond farewell. So, you will need to ask the proper interview questions with the specific intent of finding out if the candidates have the necessary skills of expressing sincerity, empathy, and trust. And you will be the one who will have to educate the people you select to deliver that experience for your customers. Interpersonal skills training cannot simply end after the first-week orientation. It must be consistent and continual. Only then will you build the interpersonal skills of your staff to drive their success and yours.

#customerservice #customerexperience #custserv #custexp #cx

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Customer CARE is the New Marketing

Through social media, people are talking about you whether you know it or not, like it or not. Customers who are dissatisfied with your service rant about their no class experience to others. They’re not just talking about you to their friends on social media. They’re telling everyone, even complete strangers.

If they’re not talking no class, then they’re just not talking about you at all. Customers who are satisfied with your service feel that their experience is good, not better, just average. Nobody raves about average. And satisfied customers won’t come back when they find something better or less expensive.

So don’t just serve to sell your products or services to customers. And don’t just serve to satisfy customers. Instead, serve to WOW them. Serve to CARE.

  • COMMUNICATE with each customer with a smile, eye contact, and polite interaction. Inform each customer transparently and interactively of the product’s or service’s function, liabilities, and advantages to them.
  • ACKNOWLEDGE each customer’s presence and value to you and your company.
  • RESPOND empathetically and compassionately to each customer’s questions, concerns, and complaints.
  • ENRICH the experiences of every customer.

And when you CARE, each customer is WOWED and happy, intent on returning again and again, raving to others along the way. 

The New Marketing is not advertising online to your customers. It’s your customers raving about you to others on social media.

QUI QUOTE: Customer CARE is the New Marketing.

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Merriest of Christmases and Happiest of Holidays and New Years!

Ever since I had my stroke in April last year, writing has been literally a labor of love. I hope that you have gained some insight into how to Deliver the World’s Best Customer Experience by not just serving to satisfy customers, but rather to WOW them.

I want to thank each of you for reading my blog this year. I very much appreciate you. In appreciation, and in paying it forward, for this New Year, I don’t wish you good luck in the future. I wish you GREAT success and fortune, literally and figuratively.

Merriest of Christmases and happiest of Holidays and New Years! May your New Year be GREAT out there!

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Enthuse Your People to Delight Customers with The Revelation Conversation.

Business leaders are happy because their customers are satisfied. But that’s not good enough. Customers feel that service is good, not better, just average. Nobody raves about average. And satisfied customers will leave once they find something better or less expensive. So don’t serve to sell to customers. And don’t serve to satisfy customers. Serve to delight them.

And just exactly how do you do that? In his book, The Revelation Conversation, Steve Curtin will tell you. But he doesn’t expect you to train your people.

Training is top down, one-way, “I know everything, you know nothing” instruction. Training is the how and what of customer service. Training is to develop THE BUSINESS. Training is for a job. And the job of employees is to serve to satisfy the customer. In the end, training instructs your people on how to TAKE CARE of the customer.

Instead, Steve is speaking with you as a coach, not at you as a trainer. He recommends that you educate your people. Your education is interactive and frequent, so much so, that you remind them every hour of every day. 

 Your education gives you the how, what, and WHY Of customer service. You not only give your employees job knowledge and skills, but also the PURPOSE of customer service. Your daily reminders will inspire your people to focus on the purpose of delivering exceptional customer service. Your education will develop YOUR PEOPLE. And the purpose of your employees is to serve to delight your customers. In the end, your people will CARE for your customers.

Reminding yourself and your people of Steve’s stories, examples, and encouragement, you will enthuse them to engage with customers. Your customers will be delighted and happy, intent on returning, raving to others.

Be sure to read The Revelation Conversation and take action to enthuse your employees to delight customers. And when you do, everyone’s lives will be enriched, literally and figuratively.

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QUI QUOTE: Nobody raves about a company that meets customer expectations.

QUI QUOTE: Nobody raves about a company that meets customer  expectations.

When you are working in customer service, you have been happy that your customers leave satisfied. You have sold them a product or service that meets their wants or needs. Or you solved their problem for them. You were happy because, in the end, you met their expectations and they were satisfied.

But that’s not good enough. Satisfied customers feel service is good, not better, just average. Nobody raves about average. And satisfied customers will leave when they find something better or less expensive.

So don’t serve to satisfy customers. Don’t treat customers as they would have expected. Instead, treat them a little better than they want to be treated. Serve to WOW them.

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Enroll Now in Customer CARE University.

We don’t offer customer service training. Training is top-down, one-way “I know everything, you know nothing” instruction. Training is the “how” of service. Training is to develop THE BUSINESS. Training is for a job. And the job of employees is to serve to satisfy the customer. In the end, training instructs students on how to TAKE CARE of the customer.

Instead, enroll in Customer CARE University. We don’t have trainers or instructors. We have mentors and coaches. Our education classes are interactive. Our education is the “how” and “why” of Customer CARE excellence. As mentors, we educate you with customer CARE actions to practice your interpersonal skills. You will learn and appreciate the value of telephone etiquette, service recovery, and customer CARE. After graduation, as coaches, we remind you with our customer CARE excellence strategies. With suggestions, recommendations, and encouragement, we empower you and your colleagues to develop YOURSELVES. Ideally, all of you will be enthused and energized to engage customers. You and your colleagues will create an emotional connection with your customers. The more emotional the connections, the more memorable the experiences, the more loyal the customers. And everyone’s lives will be enriched.

In Customer CARE 101, our passion is to CARE for you and your colleagues.

  • COMMUNICATE openly, transparently, interactively, and frequently any customer CARE information that you and your colleagues need or want to know. We will listen empathetically to your suggestions, concerns, and complaints.
  • APPRECIATE your role, responsibilities, and actions, and your suggestions and recommendations.
  • RECOGNIZE, honor, and offer accolades for you and your colleagues’ role-playing acts of customer CARE.
  • EMPOWER you to act on your own to do what is right for you, your colleagues, your customers, and your business.

In Customer CARE 102, we will educate you on how to CARE for your customers:

  • COMMUNICATE with each customer with a smile, eye contact, and polite interaction. Inform each customer transparently and interactively of the product’s or service’s function, liabilities, and advantages to the customer. Listen empathetically to understand the customer’s questions and concerns.
  • ACKNOWLEDGE each customer’s presence and value to you and your business.
  • RESPOND compassionately to each customer’s questions, concerns, and complaints.
  • ENRICH the experiences of every customer.

And, yes, we educate everyone. If we’re not caring for customer CARE representatives, we better be caring for your colleagues who are.

When we create a great experience for you as much as we do for your colleagues, you will earn the loyalty of both colleagues and customers. And soon, without your focus on profits, profits will grow, for you and your business, literally and figuratively.

Enrollment starts now. Tuition is free. But you must attend to learn each of the classes of the two courses or you will fail.

Enroll today. You won’t be sorry. And neither will your customers.

DISCLAIMER: Customer CARE University classes are my posts for either Customer CARE strategies for customer service people or Customer CARE actions for customers. You are always invited to “attend” the classes. Our discussions have been very interactive with open and honest opinions and complaints from some who have disagreed with me. With each interaction, I hope we can agree to disagree or agree. Whether you have the opportunity to “attend” regularly or can only “attend” when you can, I encourage you to remind yourself or your colleagues who interact with customers, when you say, “Let’s be GREAT out there!”

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Happiest of birthdays, Mr. Marriott!

Happiest of birthdays to the greatest of the great hospitality leaders!

I agree with Marriott International when they say that Mr. Marriott’s “impact on the hospitality industry is only exceeded by his kindness”. On his birthday, I wanted to express my admiration and appreciation for the example Mr. Marriott gave me as a leader and how it has formed my management style.

While still in college, I joined Marriott in 1976 as a charter member of Marriott’s Great America in Santa Clara. On opening day, Mr. Marriott welcomed all of us. And just 5 years later, I was fortunate to serve as the opening director of services for Marriott’s 100th property, the Maui Marriott Resort, the first in the state of Hawaii. What I remember to this day was how Mr. Marriott would walk the backstage areas and greet everyone with a smile and a handshake. He didn’t wait for someone to approach him. He initiated the interaction. “Take good care of your employees and they’ll take good care of the customers.” And in the gesture of Mr. Marriott walking around to introduce himself to all of us, it was obvious the mantra wasn’t simply a slogan, but really something that drove the leadership philosophy of the company. While I left Marriott shortly thereafter I always remembered that example.

Thirty-five years after my first day at Great America, I was the charter general manager of The Henry – Autograph Collection which for 21 years stood as the Ritz-Carlton Dearborn. Mr. Marriott came through on a tour of the property. Since The Henry was a franchise, he did not have to do that during his two-day tour as there are many Marriott-managed properties in Detroit. But he did. Serving many years as a Board member of General Motors, he had visited often when it was a Ritz-Carlton. Many of the same associates were there to greet him on his first visit to The Henry. We had the line of associates upon his arrival and he took the time to shake everyone’s hand. But what I remember was that on our tour of the property, he made it a point to acknowledge every associate as he had done in Maui.

I can tell you that the genuine appreciation that Mr. Marriott shows on every visit to every associate just doesn’t happen in other hotel companies. The lesson here: It all starts at the top. A handshake and a smile from the Executive Chairman may seem to him like a very small thing, but it certainly made an impact on all of us. From day one, I understood you simply can’t lead from the corner office.

Happiest of birthdays, Mr. Marriott!

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Don’t serve to satisfy. Serve to WOW! Serve to CARE.

“Customers perceive service in their own unique, idiosyncratic, emotional, irrational, end-of-the-day, and totally human terms. Perception is all there is!” Tom Peters.

Customers are paying for their experience, not your product or service. They buy with emotion and justify that decision with reason. And customers seek the best emotional value for their experience, not your logical best price.

Your value to the customer is in the interaction, not the transaction. So think RELATIONSHIPS or Go Broke. Don’t serve to sell to customers. Don’t serve to satisfy customers. Serve to WOW them. Serve to CARE.

  • COMMUNICATE with each customer with eye contact, a smile, and polite interaction. Inform each customer transparently and interactively of the product’s or service’s function, liabilities, and advantages to them. Listen empathetically to understand the customer’s questions and concerns.

  • ACKNOWLEDGE each customer’s presence and value to your business.

  • RESPOND compassionately to customer questions, concerns, and complaints.
  • ENRICH the experiences of every customer.

And when you CARE, each customer is wowed and happy, intent on returning, raving to others.

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Let’s be GREAT out there!

“People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.” Samuel Johnson.

In the 1980s TV police drama series, Sgt. Phil Esterhaus, portrayed by Michael Conrad, cautioned his officers at the end of roll call with “Let’s be careful out there”. 

When I was GM at The Henry Dearborn-Autograph Collection, Dearborn, MI, one of our senior sales managers ended their daily morning stand-up meeting with “Let’s be safe out there”. But I told them we should change it to “Let’s be GREAT out there!”. And in each hoteI since then, I reminded every team to end their daily standups with it. 

As customer service professionals, we are all onstage with customers, happy to serve. There are some who say that they believe they are “acting”. They claim they can never “be the part” to be happy to serve. Here is what I say:

Any movie or theatrical audience has customers. “Customers perceive service in their own unique, idiosyncratic, emotional, irrational, end-of-the-day, and totally human terms. Perception is all there is!” Tom Peters. Customers are paying for their experience. It’s ALL about them, NEVER about us. To them, perception is reality. Image is everything. Feelings are facts. And they buy with emotion and justify that decision with reason.

Movie actors like Scarlett Johansson, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, and Jack Nicholson act to be happy, sad, scary, or angry. Yet, we, as the audience, believe they are genuinely real. The actors may “act their part”, but they are so good that we, as the audience, BELIEVE they are real. Whether actors are acting the part or believe they are real is not important. It is never about the actors. It is always about the audience. The audience is paying for their experience. And the audience seeks the best value in their experience. So actors have to deliver.

The best TV and movie actors have rehearsed before they are watched by their audience. Even theatrical actors rehearse before a live audience. We, as customer service professionals, whether new or experienced, can train and rehearse before we connect with our customers, our live audience. But, more often, we are interacting as we go. So we need to be better than actors who rehearse. We need to be so good that our customers believe we really ARE happy to serve. So we have to deliver.

As customer service professionals, we are happy to serve our customers so much that they believe we are genuinely happy to serve. It doesn’t matter if we act it or not. What matters is if our customers BELIEVE we are genuine. When it comes to customers and customer service, it’s NEVER about us. It’s ALWAYS about them. So be onstage with your audience of customers. And be GREAT out there!

When we are not together, that’s when I say, “Be GREAT out there!” I hope you have an educational legacy for everyone who interacts with customers. So, I encourage you to remind them when you say,

Let’s Be GREAT out there!

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