One person can make a tremendous difference even in a huge organization. Especially if that person understands service, and how every interaction inside and outside the company is with a customer. That is true and valid especially in the hospitality industry.
Hire for attitude.
It will make your life easier in the long run to have people who are good listeners and problem solvers. Support them, reward them, and ask them to show the rest of the organization how it's done.
They have a rare gift. As I've been known to say, common sense (and courtesy) are not that common.
If you follow me on Twitter, you will know that I recently stayed at a hotel where the noise level in the room reminded me of the disco days, trembling floor included. I'm guilty of venting, just like every human being with or without a Twitter handle.
However, I did what a responsible customer does and communicated with the hotel staff about the issue. I wrote the post on how to complain effectively, and I tend to uphold my end of the deal. I called the front desk that very night and asked if they could help in any way. I was asked to describe the issue, then was put on hold. For ten minutes. While the music -- not in my taste, for the record -- kept booming outside/inside the room.
Then someone else picked up the phone -- was it a hot potato to the first person? Who knows? -- and I had to retell him what the issue was. I could see him shrug it off on the phone, while he was saying "the hotel is full, madam. Nothing we can do." And indeed, there was nothing *he* was going to do. That was clear.
Thank heavens for iPods and for remembering to pack mine. Although when the music ran out and the garbage trucks started their route at 4am, I was jolted awake. Blame me for having difficulty going to sleep again when startled in my deepest sleep. It made for a very long day for sure.
I actually used to know the CEO of that hotel chain many years ago. He died of cancer, he was young to go so prematurely. I missed his philosophy on hiring last week. He believed in hiring for attitude, and in rewarding it.
The day afterThe day after, instead of charging the front desk, I packed my bags in the room, and went to discuss the issue in person. That's where I met a superb front desk person -- I hope she makes more than the others, because her attitude is gold to the hotel.
She listened to the issue, and immediately went in problem solving mode without any mentions of blocks of rooms occupied by the conference organizers, or blogs for that matter. To her, I was a customer who needed a good night sleep. Isn't that what hotels are for?
Nothing anyone could do about the poor insulation that didn't support the hotel design. While I was at the desk talking with her, another guest reported the same issue to an otherwise passive front desk staff. Hey, if people don't complain too loudly, we get away with having to help, they seemed to indicate.
Why we call it customer serviceWe found a solution, my bags were taken care of, and I had a solid good night rest the following one. One person made all the difference in the world to me. I'm sure she does to countless others when they have the good luck of her being within earshot or on duty.
You know what she said to me? She said she loved her job, she would not have it any other way. As opposed to the rest who seemed to want to shrink away from talking to customers, unless all was well. Her former CEO of years past would have been proud.
I was lucky. The question though is, why do we need to rely on luck? Why can't we identify, hire, and reward for attitude? It makes a huge difference in customer experience. Hire good people, and don't be afraid to pay them well, because they will save you money every day.
Customer conversations affect the stock price probably even more than the CEO these days. Now think about the pay disparity...