This past winter I was shopping at my local grocery store for ice melt. Our area had just been the lucky recipient of a large snow storm and there was a run on ice melt. While in the aisle the young store associate used non-verbal cues to ascertain that I was in need of something but hadn’t found it yet.
Using the 15-5 Rule he acknowledged me and asked the right questions to determine my need. Although the store had run out of ice melt, he didn’t simply answer the question with a negative (“No, we don’t have anymore ice melt“). He managed to end the transaction on a positive note by explaining why the store was out of ice melt, when it expected to receive more and where I might still find some. Despite walking away without the product I was looking for, the positive interaction will keep me going back. Whether or not the associate knew it, he exercised the most basic tenet of customer service – value the consumer.
I am always amazed when I receive extraordinary service. I am not sure why because consumers should always be the recipients of excellent service – regardless whether the transaction is off- or on-line. There is compelling evidence that consumers would spend more on a particular item if it meant that they were recognized and appreciated. Yet, despite the basic human need of feeling valued, most companies miss the mark.
How have you been made to feel valued?
In the spirit of hospitality…
Site, Sales & Service was the name of a successful in-house training program started by one of my sales managers at a select-service hotel. Early-on she identified that the Sales office shouldn’t close when she left the building, but the evening associates were under-equipped to properly give prospective clients site tours. She established a certification program by which each associate – regardless of department – spent 24 hours learning how to properly give a site tour (features vs benefits), the role of sales in acquiring new business (it’s more than lunches) and the impact on service. At the end of the program the associate would receive a certificate and was eligible to give site tours to prospective clients.
The program extended the reach of the sales office, gave confidence to front-line staff and increased corporate and group business because no guest had to wait on the Sales department. Although the market is more robust today we all need to be creative in maintaining our competitive edge and including all of our associates in the sales process. What programs have you initiated to drive sales and service at your properties?
In the spirit of hospitality…
We do not always practice what we preach. Moreover, we tend to get mired in the minutiae of our jobs that we forget who drives our industry – people. We do a wonderful job of understanding the mechanics but lousy at internal communication and execution. It is refreshing, then, when an establishment is firing on all cylinders. An organization that not only discusses the service basics, but also weaves them into their culture and executes them. I had the pleasure of visiting a Marriott hotel a few weeks ago in Massachusetts in which the staff exuded hospitality. They not only made my day, but also still have me talking about them. Continue reading
Over the past few weeks I have been asked what has been the defining element of my career. Some are known as financial wizards, others as brand innovators and scores more as sales gurus. My hallmark is service. It may not be sexy but when executed flawlessly is a differentiator and a competitive advantage. In a landscape that grows increasingly crowded and fiercely competitive the advantage will not go to the hotel that offers the most amenities nor the lowest rate. Rather, the advantage will be scored by the property that emphasizes the value of their guests. These savvy hoteliers understand that longevity and success is achieved by nurturing relationships – establishing what I call a “heart connection.”