Being Hospitable: Customer Service…the Engine That Powers the Hospitality Industry

Standard

Hospitality 2Customer Service is important in any job in which you interface with the public. In the industry in which I work, the Hospitality Industry, excellent Customer Service Skills are essential in not only meeting, but exceeding the expectations of our guests.

Here is a great example of exemplary Customer Service, found at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, TN.

Family blogger Christina McMenemy (a.k.a A Mommy Story) was so wowed by the service at this Nashville hotel that she made a point of sharing her experience with her readers. Impressed by her hotel room clock radio — which also doubled as a relaxation sound machine — the mother of two asked the hotel where she could purchase one. When she was advised that the clock radios were unique to the hotel and weren’t available to the public, a disappointed McMenemy figured that was the end of that. However, when she later returned to her room that night, she found her very own clock radio waiting for her along with a handwritten card. As McMenemy puts it, “I would have been happy to pay for one of those clock radios, but the staff at Opryland took notice of just how much I loved this thing and went out of their way to make sure I had the best experience ever… [Opryland] reaffirmed that there are still companies out there focused on great service and you’ve made a lifelong fan out of me.”

So, how does a hotel achieve “Excellent Customer Service”?

Back in 2012, Forbes.com published the following “10 Keys of Excellent Customer Service”

1. Belief: What customers think is true. Unfortunately, it may not be supported by the facts. Understand that they will hold on to this truth and do not fight to change their mind. Apologize and then try to come up with a satisfactory solution.

2. Complain: What a customer does when they are unhappy. They complain to friends, on social media, and even sometimes to you. Your business reputation is only as good as your customer’s last experience. Everyone that interacts with your customers should understand this.

3. My Manager: The person the customer is seemingly always getting passed to or who always gets blamed by the employee if something goes wrong. See empowerment.4. Empowerment: Training employees to make decisions on their own to help a customer without talking to “the boss.” This needs to happen 95% of the time. The boss should only handle exceptions.

4. Empowerment: Training employees to make decisions on their own to help a customer without talking to “the boss.” This needs to happen 95% of the time. The boss should only handle exceptions.

5. Feedback: Giving the customer the opportunity to tell you what they think in many ways at different stages the transaction. Follow the Three Times Rule—if you hear something about your business three times, whether you like it or not, pay serious attention. It is probably true. Take action. 

6. Kick the Cat: What employees do when they take their frustrations out on the customer. Find another way for employees to vent by encouraging easy feedback directly to management.

7. Mistake: The hardest thing for the company to admit. Once you admit it, the customer will be happier.

8. Overpromise: Making a commitment to a customer that the company is not economically able to keep. This is not a solid base for sustained excellent customer service.

9.  Peer Reviews or Earned Media: Online references written by customers on the level of quality or service in your company. This is sometimes called an open reputation system.

10. Pest: A customer the company may need to fire to be more profitable. Be quick to identify and replace them.

Satisfied customers are looking for a memorable experience and an energetic service, where it matters the most: at a hotel property which they have chosen to be their “home away from home”.

Hotels need to be aware that, in this Digital Age, that it’s becoming more popular every day for guests to leave a review of their experience on a number of Travel Industry Websites, whether their experience was a good or bad one.

Hotels have to stay mindful of this fact of life, as bad feedback can be extremely damaging.

While any business needs to keep customers and clients happy, those of us working the Hospitality Industry must strive to keep guests engaged in order to garner repeat business and also, for referral purposes.

For the customer to return to your hotel on a regular basis, first you must deliver on your promises.

And then, you must exceed them.

Never give up. Never surrender.

-Allen

Allen Fitzhugh is Director of Sales at Candlewood Suites-Memphis. He can be reached at dos@cwsmemphis.com.

 

 

Management Style: Dealing With Unethical Behavior in the Workplace

Standard

thUTVM5S72To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.– Douglas Adams

In this Brave New Business World, in which International Business Deals are accomplished with the flick of a button on a keyboard, do the majority of employees in the workplace believe that the words of Douglas Adams still hold true?

And, if they don’t, how do we, as Vice-Presidents, Directors, and Managers, fix that?

Back in January of this year, Kessler International released the results of a nationwide survey, outlining the current state of manners, etiquette, and ethics in the workplace.

They surveyed upper and mid-level management at 40 professional services firms.

Those polled held the belief, by an 84 percent margin, that their employees were inconsiderate and rude in the workplace. Additionally, the same respondents cited by 65 percent that they felt a majority of their staff lacked a moral compass.

Kessler asked individuals to anonymously comment on their employees’ use of personal electronic devices, dress, manners, ethics and level of respect for other employees.

This resulted in some of the respondents expressing their disgust of certain individuals on their staff, as well as their ineffectiveness and unwillingness to say something and correct the situation.

Among their excuses for not being able to correct the problem of unethical behavior by their employees were their company’s policy of “political correctness,” their own inability to have confrontation, and constraints instituted by their human resources department.

Among the items that most of the respondents cited, were:

1- untimely and inappropriate use of cellphones

2- wearing inappropriate clothing to work

3- complete lack of courtesy

4- use of street talk and signs in professional meetings

5- the inability of younger staff to write a letter/email

6- the lack of personal responsibility

7- failure to say please and thank you

8- lying to phone caller

9- hanging up on phone calls when they are confronted and were uncomfortable

10- cheating on time billed to clients and stealing time by arriving late and leaving early

11- cutting corners on work product rather than staying after hours to correct the mistakes they made

12- visiting sex and dating websites on company time

13- sexting on company phones

14- the inability to interact professionally with clients during a business function

15- the lack of manners

16- the lack of integrity

United States President Harry S. Truman had a famous plaque on his desk which read,

The Buck Stops Here

As an experienced leader of men and women, in the military, the workplace, and, as President of the United States of America, Truman knew that as a manager of employees, you are held responsible not only for heir behavior, but, what you do about it.

In her book “7 Lenses: Learning the Principles and Practices of Ethical Leadership (Leading in Context, 2013),” author Linda Fisher Thornton offers the following advice on how leaders can integrate the practice of ethical conduct into their organizations.

1. Face the complexity involved in making ethical choices: Openly discuss the ethical gray areas and acknowledge the complexity of work life. Involve others in more of the ethical decisions. Be a leader who talks about the difficult ethical choices, and help others learn to take responsibility for making ethical decisions carefully.

2. Don’t separate ethics from day-to-day business: Leaders must make it clear to their employees that ethics is “the way we operate” and not a training program or reference manual. Every activity, whether it is a training program, a client meeting or an important top management strategy session, should include conversations about ethics.

3. Don’t allow negative interpersonal behaviors to erode trust: Make respect a load-bearing beam in your culture. Be an ethical leader who expects it and practices it. Cultivate a respectful environment in which people can speak up about ethics and share the responsibility for living it. Build trust, demand open communication and share the ownership of organizational values.

4. Don’t think about ethics as just following laws and regulations: Leaders need to take action and show consumers and other stakeholders that they are actively engaged with ethical issues that matter. Recognize how ethics influences consumers’ reasons to buy from you, and demonstrate a commitment to go beyond mere compliance with laws and regulations. They must prove that they are committed to ethical issues, including human rights, social justice and sustainability.

5. Don’t exempt anyone from meeting ethical expectations: Allow no excuses. Make sure that no one is exempted from meeting the ethical standards that are adopted. Maintain the status of ethics as a total, absolute, “must do” in the organization. Hold everyone, particularly  senior leaders and high profile managers, accountable. No exceptions.

6. Celebrate positive ethical moments: Be a proactive ethical leader, championing high ethical conduct and emphasizing prevention. Managers should talk about what positive ethics looks like in practice as often as they talk about what to avoid. Take time to celebrate positive ethical choices.

7. Talk about ethics as an ongoing learning journey, not a once-a-year training program: Integrate ethics into every action of the organization — everything people do, touch or influence. Talk about ethics as an ongoing learning journey, not something you have or don’t have. Recognize that the world changes constantly, and that ethical conduct requires that everyone remain vigilant.

As leaders, it is our job to protect our companies’ revenue streams, as well as to keep and cultivate the trust which our clients place with us.

We cannot perform our duties effectively, if we have to constantly be on the look out for unethical behavior in our “home away from home”, our workplace environment.

Hopefully, these tips, which I have presented today, will help us, as leaders, foster an atmosphere of trust and shared expectations, smoothing out the journey down the road to success.

Never give up. Never surrender.

-Allen

Allen Fitzhugh is Director of Sales at Candlewood Suites-Memphis. He can be reached at dos@cwsmemphis.com.

Sell, Sell, Sell: Staying Motived

Standard

th58CIMHJYWhether you sell automotive parts to garages, pharmaceuticals to doctors, or Extended Stay Hotel Rooms to Corporations and Industries, as I do, one has to stay motivated in order to remain at their best.

The challenge that we all face is how to stay motivated, while facing the daily grind of a career as a Sales Professional.

Here are three excellent suggestions, courtesy of salescareer.net…

1. GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

When you are in a comfort zone, you are usually in familiar territory and you are not pushing yourself.  You are playing it safe and not growing or taking the calculated risks to go for more.  Accept that you are in a comfort zone and take some time to look at the big picture of your business and strategize to take it to the next level.  In sales you could always make more and with new challenges that you place on yourself, you could gain the extra boost of excitement back into your sales career.

2. CHANGE YOUR ROUTINE

Like a muscle, for you to truly build it and for it to grow is to shock it into growth by changing your exercise routine.  The body is constantly looking for homeostasis and like your sales career, if you get into a routine, it could quickly become stale and boring.  Sales should be exciting and challenging, with adrenalin pumping activities.  Change your routine and seek ways to challenge yourself other than just doing the things that just get you by.

3. FIRE YOURSELF

I don’t mean literally, but when people are first starting a new job, they are usually gung ho and guns are out blazing with the enthusiasm and motivation on overdrive.  To get this feeling back, try firing yourself every once in a while and ask yourself, if you were to take on your territory as a new hire, how would you beat the “old” you and what would you do differently to make it better?  Look at your sales territory with fresh eyes and to fire yourself and then rehire yourself with the new energy that you would if would have just been hired for your job.

However. as good as those suggestions are, they pale in comparison to the advice, given across both decades and continents, during the career of one remarkable man.

Zig Ziglar, age 86, of Plano, Texas passed away November 28, 2012.

That is how the first line, of the obituary of one of the most influential men in the history of American Business, reads.

…An understated end to an extraordinary life.

For those of you who may have spent your lives living under a rock, like those guys in the Geico Commercial, please allow me to tell you who this remarkable man was.

Years ago, Zig Ziglar walked away from a record-setting sales career, to fulfill his desire to help other people become more successful in their personal and professional lives.

His extremely successful sales background was the primary factors is Ziglar becoming one of the world’s foremost Sales Trainers.

During his remarkable career as a sales trainer, he boosted the careers of hundreds of thousands of people, around the world, with effective strategies to not just make a sale, but to create a sales professional. According to him,

Selling is not something you to do someone, it is something you do for someone.

Zig Ziglar was the world’s leading authority on motivation.

He was an internationally renowned speaker and authority on high-level performance, whose “I CAN” course is taught in more than 3,000 schools.

Hundreds of companies and businesses continue to utilize his CDs, books, and video training programs to motivate and train their employees effectively.

During his lifetime, Ziglar’s “Secrets of Closing the Sale” audio training program became a “must-have” for anyone involved in the world of selling and remains so to this day.

During his decades-long career as a Sales Trainer/Motivational Speaker par excellence, Zig Ziglar taught his values-based principles for becoming a more effective persuader and person to sales organizations, church groups, schools, and businesses.

Additionally, as if his multitude of personal appearances were not enough, Zig Ziglar reached thousands more through numerous television and radio appearances and through his popular audio and video training programs.

He became so popular, that, for many years, his Sunday school class held at First Baptist Church, Dallas, was broadcast each Sunday morning, via satellite.

Even though this remarkable man is gone, his legacy of optimistic, motivational selling lives on.

Here is a list of ten of Zig Ziglar’s most famous quotes that can make a difference in your life.

10) “Remember that failure is an event, not a person.”

9) “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.”

8 ) “People often say motivation doesn’t last. Neither does bathing—that’s why we recommend it daily.”

7) “There has never been a statue erected to honor a critic.”

6) “People don’t buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons.”

5) “Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes.”

4) “If you go looking for a friend, you’re going to find they’re scarce. If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.”

3) “A goal properly set is halfway reached.”

2) “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”

1) “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.”

In conclusion, motivation is a driving force, which comes from within. If a salesperson can focus on it and maintain it, the sky’s the limit.

Or, as Zig Ziglar himself put it,

Positive thinking will let you use the ability which you have, and that is awesome.

Never give up. Never surrender.

-Allen

Allen Fitzhugh is Director of Sales at Candlewood Suites-Memphis. He can be reached at dos@cwsmemphis.com.