Archive for March, 2012

How to achieve great customer service – Part 4

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Recognition

Recognise and reward staff who go the extra mile and give exceptional customer service. Listen to your guests and acknowledge the feedback they give you and pass that on to your team. This helps both you and your team or to understand what your guests appreciate and value, and help identify where you may be falling short.

Encourage your team to come forward with their own ideas of how customer service can be improved and make every effort to take their ideas on board where appropriate. This gives the team a sense of ownership and pride which will inevitably have a positive knock-on effect on your guests.

 

Lead by example

Your personality is part of the business. Making yourself visible in your hotel and engaging with your guests not only builds rapport and trust with them, but sets the tone and example for your team to follow. If you hide yourself away in the office, or seldom even visit the hotel, this sends the message that it’s okay to hide away from guests.

Talking to your guests is far the best way to get feedback, and they may tell you things that they wouldn’t feedback to your team. Get to know your guests personally; their likes and dislikes, their routine, their suggestions, their network. All this not only builds rapport but makes it a lot easier for you to tailor your offer and service to meet your guests’ needs and expectations.

 

A team effort

Service should be seamless, and to achieve this, the whole team must support one another. Encourage staff to take ownership when necessary, rather than passing the buck. Allocate responsibilities to specific team members to conduct briefings, training, collate feedback and suggestions.  This spreads the responsibility, gets everyone involved, ensuring these happen even when you’re not there.

All this adds up ultimately to making your customer service memorable, and a potential point of differentiation – for the right reasons.

How to achieve great customer service – Part 3

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Empower

Upskilling your team by giving them the appropriate training, coaching and support enables you to delegate authority and gives your  staff a sense of responsibility, so they take the initiative and make decisions. You’ll be surprised how often they end up improving the process.  It means you don’t have to keep an eye on things 24/7, in the confident knowledge that your guests will always get great service.

Encourage staff to think ahead and anticipate guests’ needs, rather than waiting to be asked. Demonstrate your trust in the team by giving them responsibility and authority to respond to guests’ expectations and requests in the way that they see fit. Develop champions for areas of responsibility that need a specialist knowledge or particular attention. This promotes a sense of pride and responsibility and will encourage continuous improvement. This in turn can have an impact on your guests’ experience, when
specific knowledge is required to gain the guest’s confidence, for example dealing with function bookings, or food allergies, when from the customer’s perspective someone with specific expertise in that area may be needed.

Giving your staff authority to deal with unplanned situations (including complaints) enables them to resolve issues quickly and with minimum fuss. This is not only far better for the guest, but less effort in the long run for you and your team if they don’t need to find you or a manager. Telling a guest you don’t have the authority to deal with an issue is both frustrating for the guest and degrading for the team member.

There will naturally be situations where a manager’s input may be required, but aim to keep those to a minimum by ensuring that any one of the team can deal with the most common issues, questions or complaints.

Motivate and encourage your staff in making guest service a priority. Create a culture of continuous improvement by encouraging your team to ask for guest feedback. When they receive favourable feedback ask them to suggest ways to build or capitalise on this, and when less favourable to come forward with their own suggestions of where and how things can be improved.

 

In the final part this week,  it is about reward and recognigtion for the staff that go that extra mile for the customers.

How to achieve great customer service – Part 2

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Direction

We’ve already talked about defining what we mean by great service, now this needs communicating. Discuss with your team what your guests expect and how to meet those expectations. Focus on telling people what you want to achieve, i.e. the end result, rather than dictating how to do it.  This gives people flexibility to adopt their own style.

However, be prepared to explain in behavioural terms when necessary, so rather than just saying ‘welcome guests’, give some examples of the types of things you’d expect to see them doing or hear them say if there’s any doubt about what this means. The more specific you are and more examples you give the easier it is for people to understand. Then lead by example so there are no mixed messages.

Encourage your team to take the guest journey, and see everything from a guest’s point of view as often as possible; they’ll invariably spot things that can be improved to enhance the guest experience, and this helps them put the whole customer experience into perspective.

Establish systems and guidelines where necessary and adequate tools and resources to meet these expectations. Too much red tape, staff shortages, unreliable equipment or a poor product will only lead to frustration and is bound to have a knock-on effect on staff’s ability to deliver great customer service.

 

Regular communication

Keep staff up-to-date at all times. Conduct daily briefings to cover such information as: VIP guests, special needs, regular guests and any known preferences so staff can anticipate their requirements, today’s menu and details of all ingredients, special offers and events or deals, other activity in or around the hotel that could impact the guest in any way, staff shortages and cover of responsibilities. These actions ensure your staff are fully briefed and competent to deal with any guest’s queries or concerns.

The daily briefing also provides an opportunity to get feedback on any guests’ comments. You can discuss any questions or suggestions that arise about operational issues that could have a bearing on the level of service your guests receive.

So, even on your busiest mornings make sure these briefings still happen; it’s generally on the busiest days that things go wrong.

Tomorrow in part 3 of the blog,  I will looking into empowerment of the staff and by giving them the training and skills that are needed, to gain the customer’s confidence.

 

How to achieve great customer service

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

The service your guests receive will often be the most memorable part of their stay. Few people will return by choice, where they’ve experienced poor service, nor recommend a hotel even when they’ve received average or good service. Service is invariably your opportunity to create a key differentiator to your hotel. So as a manager what can you be doing to contribute to your service levels?

 

Last year I attended the inaugural Boutique Hotel Summit in London. Although I don’t think anyone could quite agree on a precise definition of boutique, one theme that came up consistently was that of delivering consistently great service.

So how do we ensure that our staff deliver great customer service?

 

Define great service

Well, the first thing to do is define great service. I’m not proposing here to define what I think it is; I’m sure you already have your own ideas. But if you needed to explain this to any of your team, would you be able to define it? I believe the starting point is to reflect on what it is that your guests expect and how they define great service. Understand your guest and who you’re targeting.

What is the style of your hotel, and how is this reflected in the way you serve your guests? There’s often a fine line between uninterested or unreceptive and being over attentive and bordering on being intrusive. There’s then striking a balance between formality and overfamiliarity. These are things that we often know when we see it, but it’s sometimes difficult to describe this to staff.

 

Recruit on attitude

Once you know what level of service you’re looking for you’re in a much better position to get your staff on board. Start by getting the recruitment right. In my book attitude will always be a higher priority than skills. You can develop skills by training, but it’s much more difficult to change people’s attitudes; an eagerness to please people, a willingness to go the extra mile, and an enthusiasm to learn are the key attributes to look for at the recruitment stage.

Develop a reputation as a good employer. This way you’ll be in a much better position to attract the type of people you really want when the need arises, rather than your hotel being a last resort for those desperate for any job they can get.

 

In tomorrow’s blog we look at direction and how to focus on what you want to achive.

Celebrate Success !

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Celebrate your Success

Celebrate and reward success

Establish regular opportunities and events to enable others to share their successes and achievements. This could be as simple as team meetings where individuals talk about their successes and what others can learn from these, but add more weight to this by publicly recognising their success e.g. sharing achievements with your guests or entering them for awards. Highlight how individual contributions have had a positive impact on the business as a whole, and be open and optimistic about business performance.
Recognise and reward individuals, departments or the team as a whole to demonstrate how you value their successes.  So if you were to ask your team if they believed you see the glass as half empty or half full, what response would you get?

 

Join me on the FREE recording from my recent tele seminar on how to get the best from your team

Build confidence in others

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

This is part two of this week blog ‘Building Confidence’:

Limiting confidence just to your own abilities comes over as arrogance and failing to express confidence in the capability of others becomes a self-filling prophecy. People soon pick it up when you fail to trust or allocate any responsibility to them, leaving them doubting their own abilities. Lack of confidence will only lead to people not getting on with things off their own bat, which can be both frustrating and draining for you.

Encourage your team by assuring them that they have the skills and knowledge. If you really are unsure of somebody’s ability to deliver what’s needed reflect on what help and support they would need in order to achieve this and focus on that instead.

Look for the capabilities in others that they themselves may not see and help them to see these for themselves. If they doubt their own  ability encourage them to focus on what they are good at and where they do well. Then talk about what is holding them back and suggest ways of dealing with this.

Build confidence by providing positive feedback and recognition. Offer plenty of support and encouragement. Explain clearly the importance and significance of what they do. Foster a supportive culture where people can learn from their mistakes, rather than be blamed. Encourage team members to come up with their own areas of improvement and how they will achieve these. Recognise and reward when these improvements have been made even if things are not yet perfect!

 

Inspire commitment

Set out a clear vision of what you want to achieve for your business and what business success looks like. Paint a vivid picture that your team can relate to. Translate your overall strategy into meaningful direction.  Involve the team and deciding on how this vision can be achieved; they are the ones who will need to implement the lion share and have first-hand experience of what works and what your customers want.

Target individuals and inspire them to take ownership. Set goals which are stretching but still achievable and demonstrate your belief in the likelihood of success and your confidence in your team’s ability.

Make statements to build hope, optimism, excitement and enthusiasm in others and demonstrate your own belief in and have high expectations for the success of a particular plan or strategy.

Demonstrate your trust in the team. Empower individuals and the team by giving them authority to make decisions and take action. Generate a climate of confidence by drawing attention to the strengths of the team and individuals and where they complement one another rather than dwelling on shortcomings.

 

Join me on the FREE recording from myrecent tele seminar on  how to get the best from your team

How to Build Your Team’s Confidence

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Are you a glass half full or glass half empty type of person?

I’m sure we can all relate to the type of person who constantly looks at the downside of everything; the type of person who drains your energy and your enthusiasm the whole time; the ‘Mood Hoovers’ who suck the life out of everything. But have you ever stopped to think about whether or not you have this impact on your team?
We continually hear of managers complaining about the lack of engagement or enthusiasm from their team, but have they ever stopped to think about whether they are the cause of it?

To build for success we need to build the confidence of our team. We do this and when we make our stance on issues clear and when we celebrate our successes. Our leadership is demonstrated through these timely decisions and our commitment to the business. How we communicate our own belief in our ability to succeed will have a knock-on effect on building the confidence of our team.
The more we can build the confidence of our team the better they are able to tackle difficult issues and respond to change in a complex and dynamic environment.

Self belief
This starts with a belief in yourself. Are you clear and concise about your own position on issues? Do you tell your team what you really think. Make clear decisions and communicate your stance on issues, and be prepared to defend these when pressed or challenged. Accept that making difficult decisions will be necessary from time to time, and avoid hiding difficult issues under the carpet.

Do you take ownership of problems? Acknowledge and own up when you’re wrong but move on by seeking to put things right. This establishes a climate where it’s recognised that mistakes do happen, and is more likely to foster an environment where people will take responsibility (and risks) when necessary rather than having to lean too heavily on you and the management team all of the time.

Use your experience, knowledge, and strengths to build credibility and utilise this by giving direction guidance and assistance to others when it’s needed and help clarify the way forward.

It’s important you remain self-motivated even when things are not going well; are you prone to displaying your frustration, doubts or hesitation; and resort to using negative language, expressing doubt in your own or others’ ability? In short, do you act as a role model for your team to follow?

Tomorrow will about building confidence in others within the team.

Join me on the FREE recording from my recent tele seminar on how to get the best from your team

Red tape getting in the way of a good performance.

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Yesterday’s blog was about time and people preventing a good performance, today it is about having the right system in place to support a good performance.

Systems
Having systems and procedures is usually a good thing. Having systems in place for when things go wrong is key if staff are to take responsibility for putting things right without having to come running to you all the time e.g. dealing with customer complaints, wrong deliveries, faulty equipment.

Give people training in the systems. If they don’t know what the system is, or, just as importantly understand why you have it, they wont follow it. And I include in here IT systems. How often have you seen someone doing something longhand because they don’t know how to do it on a computer system in which you’ve invested £’000s?

Ensure that everyone works by the same set of ‘rules’ or systems; there is nothing more frustrating than seeing someone else do something that you are ‘not allowed to do’. But, don’t be so bound by red tape that people can’t use their initiative and take control of situations when needed.

It’s important to review your systems from time to time. Are they achieving what they set out to do, or are they leading to frustration and bottlenecks? Talk to the people who actually use the systems to check this, as often you may not be aware of any issues. Staff will normally come up with the best way to resolve it, if you allow them.

So next time we feel like blaming the workman, just reflect for a moment.  – Is it the workman that’s at fault, or is it down to a lack of the right resources – equipment, products, time, people or systems. Or do you have the right resources and the right people, but failed to provide the right training to get the best from each other?

Are your team dependant on others?

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Time
Not having enough time to do the job to standard can be very sole destroying for people, particularly when they want to do a good job, but they just don’t have the time to do that effectively.  Spend time with your staff to assess how long a task should take. And if it is taking longer than it should, assess what is causing the extra time. It may be down to the equipment, products or systems causing a bottleneck, or again it may be down to lack of training on the best approach to complete the task.

If you give a member of staff additional responsibilities or duties, be realistic; unless you are increasing their hours something else will need to give to make way for this. Spend some time now identifying how that time can be made up. If you’re not careful they could end up cutting corners on the most critical tasks rather than cutting out low priority ones.

People
What happens when a member of staff leaves, or goes on holiday? What impact does that have on the rest of the team? The effects may be felt in other departments too, if they are dependant on this person for information or ordering, for example.

Are there skills shortages in certain areas, which only affect you once in a while (e.g. certain types of events, or when people are on holiday) but when they do, they put pressure on the whole team?

The more flexibility you have in your team the better. This does not mean you make everyone a jack of all trades, but ensure there is always more than just one person who is able to perform each task, so there is an element of cover, and the whole place does not fall apart, just because one person is off sick.

Tomorrow, I will be looking into the systems and red tape that sometimes gets in the way of a good performance from your team.

Bad workmen or poor tools?

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Resources to get the job done

The saying goes “a bad workman always blames his tools”. But is it always the workmen that are at fault?

Today I had a delivery, and the poor driver was getting extremely frustrated with his hand held scanner.  He had to reset it twice before it showed the delivery for me to sign. Now how much of this was down to operator error I can’t say, but one thing was for sure, he was not happy about it. Neither was I for that matter as I was left standing on the doorstep for 10 minutes while this was going on, when frankly I had better things to do!

But it made me reflect on how well we provide the right resources and tools for our staff to do their jobs, and then give them the necessary training to utilise them to the full. Failure to do so is frustrating for the employee, and inevitably has a knock on effect on the customer experience, as was evident today.

Equipment
The most obvious is the provision of the right equipment. This might be as simple as the right accessories for your vacuum cleaners, right the way through to your heavy kitchen or laundry equipment. Equipment that is unreliable or fails to do the job for which it was designed can be a huge source of frustration for staff.

Consult with those who will using the equipment before making investments.
Skimping on inferior quality equipment might help the initial cash flow, but in the end seldom pays off. However ask whether or not you need the all singing all dancing model, or just the basic. Why pay for extra features if they are seldom, if ever, needed?

Have a system in place for maintenance, whether this is done in house or with a contractor. And have a reporting process if there are problems; maybe when the equipment doesn’t appear to be functioning on all four cylinders, or gets damaged. Failure to report and deal with problems promptly not only leads to staff frustrations, and later accusations of who’s fault it is, but could cost you dearly in the long run if it causes long-term damage.

Then ensure your team get the full training they need to get best use out of the equipment. Talk to your suppliers to support with this training. And ensure they understand the maintenance required and can spot quickly when there are faults that need reporting.  Remember too the equipment that your customers will be using – irons in rooms, LCD projectors in meeting rooms, gym equipment. It’s easy for these to get overlooked.

Products and consumables
In the kitchen is obvious to have the right products, as the end result is so evident if the correct ingredients have not been sourced. But this extends to all areas of the hotel – the appropriate cleaning products for the job, the correct grade of printer ink and paper, the quality of toiletries- each will have an impact on the finished result and how easy they are to use or work with, and whether they deliver what is required to the right standard. Simple little things can have a huge impact on the amount of effort needed from your team and on the quality of the end result.

 

Tomorrow,   I will be looking into if and how your team are dependant on others to enable them to get their job done.