by Alan Campbell, Featured Contributor
MANY, probably most, management organizations that serve under the hospitality management umbrella do not—I repeat, DO NOT practice what they preach to their employees.
In fact, they seem seldom to treat the hired help with much regard at all!
Unless, of course, they violate in any way shape or form any of “The Ten Commandments of Great Customer Service,” an article off the Web I read recently written by Susan A. Friedmann.
Ms. Friedmann’s viewpoint deals only with the perspective and interaction between management and customer, with the exception of the Tenth Commandment.
And even though there is nothing wrong with the perspective she espouses, I feel it slights, at times almost to the point of dismissal, the importance of all those people that actually perform 99.9 percent of all the interaction that happens between a customer and the service provider at any given hospitality venue.
I will go out on a limb and state bluntly that ALL service venues will go out of their way and spare no expense to make their venue as pleasing to as many people as possible.
Nothing wrong with that, after all, in order to make business you have to have a business that appeals.
However, that same hospitality venue will then turn around and spend as little as they are able to get away with on the people that actually contribute the most in making that business successful!
It just doesn’t figure!
Look at Friedmann’s Ten Commandments:
1. Know who is boss— She states that the customer is the boss.
But who actually deals with that customer 99.9 percent of the time he or she is a guest?
Not management, I can assure you of that!
God forbid if ever the General Manager should have to welcome guests, or open doors for guests, or check a guest in, or serve a table (though many a general manager probably started off their career by doing just that).
Or the hotel’s other managers, etc.
Why is it that the people that provide the service, the type of service that keeps the guest, the customer, returning again and again, and recommend others to do the same, are slighted the most, paid the least, and give the most?
It don’t figure!
2. Be a good listener— Right on, Ms. Friedmann! Right on!
However, that most slighted of service people—you know, the people that deal directly with guests and customers—can probably count on one hand the times “management” ever listened to what he or she had to say, much less take into consideration what he or she had to say.
Most of the time, I would venture to say, much of the listening that is done is the other way around: when management is barking out orders.
All other times, also a venture of mine, the only reason management would have for talking to the real service providers is for this or that infraction.
3. Identify and anticipate needs— Great advice!
However, for this to work well with the actual service providers, it would mean that managers consciously think about each and every service provider, takes an interest in service providers, takes an active role is seeing to their needs with the same zeal and alacrity they show to their boss, their job, their family, etc.
4. Make customers feel important and appreciated— Again, Great!
Management should do exactly that for each and every actual service provider, as well.
The high turnover of actual service providers in too many hospitality venues is proof enough that this does not happen!
ALL actual providers, the people that deal directly with the paying public, i.e., bell hops, desk personnel, housekeeping, waiters, valets, etc. are performing real time to keep the guest, the customer happy and satisfied 24/7.
And how are they appreciated: Lowest of wages? Longer hours? Less benefits? Minimum training? Little to no paths to any kind of advancement? Lack of bonuses?
5. Help customers understand your systems— True! It causes less confusion for all.
As for the real service providers, sparing as little money, time, and resources as possible for training given, they are expected to know all the nuances, all the courtesies, all the nooks and crannies, etc.
I will hazard a guess that the best real service providers learned their art and skills on their own, rather than through any, mostly lackluster so-called training programs foisted on them by an uncaring Training Director or such.
6. Appreciate the power of “Yes”— Very important in the guest, customer and service provider, for it tells that guest, it tells that customer that the answer is at hand, NOW.
On the other hand, management demands an unquestioned YES from the real service providers, and probably to the point, in too many cases, expecting or demanding an unquestioned YES, and to the point of expecting the real service provider to act obsequious!
7. Know how to apologize— Very true! Best done with sincerity and humility.
When was the last time ANY real service provider ever hear his or her boss or higher ups say they were sorry for something work-related they did to you as a group or you as an individual?
8. Give more than expected— Yes! When it comes to guests and customers.
But when it comes to real service providers, management demands, expects, without any reciprocated gratitude, that that’s exactly what is expected of you!
But not only that, the reverse—that is, management giving of itself, of its profits, of its time and resources to the real service providers—is not even considered, not a part of management’s world view, though it is part of their training, if they paid attention to their classes on leadership and management.
That part, unfortunately, seems to go in one ear and out the other without spending any time whatsoever, to quote the metaphor, smelling the roses, along the brief transit.
9. Get regular feedback— Great stuff! What works, what doesn’t!
Too often, though, venues, at their peril, will ignore any feedback that might cost them money.
As for the real service providers, when was the last time your feedback was ever asked for, or was accepted and implemented, or even given lip service to?
Feedback from the real service providers too many times is looked at as the real service provider “rocking the boat,” a “trouble maker,” “presumptuous,” etc.
Sad, but true!
10. Treat employees well— The most important of the Ten Commandments!
And, of course, if you bothered to read the previous nine Commandments and actually thought about them, then you will know that I need not elaborate about this one.
Get the point?
I sure hope so.
Next time you visit or are a guest in a service venue, take a close look at the people that provide the real service.
Do they smile readily?
Do they perform their duties with pride, with alacrity, with élan?
Are these real service personnel performing their duties towards the end of their shift with just as much pride, alacrity, and élan as they did at the beginning of their shift?
If you can say yes honestly to all these things, then you are in the presence of a truly great Hospitality Management TEAM, a TEAM where EVERYBODY is valued, empowered, and important to the success of keeping guests and customers coming back, again and again.