Working in the hotel business for almost 18 years both as a customer service trainer and manager, exposed me to great CEOs and leaders of powerful hospitality brands. I learned some important lessons throughout my journey that taught me a lot about creating and driving a service culture for any hospitality business.
On my most recent experience, the CEO of the brand created a hospitality vision many years ago by starting the hot shoppes back in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. Eventually it led to open up the Marriott brand of hotels instilling a service culture by taking care of their employees, caring for their well-being, so that the customer will come back for more.
Service culture was just as a competitive advantage as it is today. In order to compete and showcase new hotels in the market, you needed to add value to your guests. Taking care of your employees was not the Human Resources job, but the leader to shape and keep the culture on track of service excellence- to train and educate people to deliver the best customer service.
The Four Seasons hotel company realized the same thing back in the early 80s. Isadore Sharp was the chief architect of the world’s most beautiful luxury hotels market. But, what became the Four Seasons’ signature move of luxury hotels, was impeccable service standards. Service became a competitive advantage from luxury travel to full service experiences across the world.
What you find as a central theme in driving a customer service culture is the CEO belief in the company’s human resource. Richard Branson, The CEO of Virgin airlines is always asked how people create a positive customer culture. He simply said that it’s our people.
Recently Richard Branson shared his philosophy of driving a customer service culture this way, “The key to any organization is how it treats its people. If staff are downtrodden, disrespected and underappreciated, customers will be too. If teams are happy, supported and empowered to take on challenges, customers will follow suit.” (Richard Branson “How to change the culture within your business.”)
You don’t have to be the CEO of the company to drive a great customer service culture. Let me give you couple of quick examples on how you can make an impact today:
Strategy #1- Begin with yourself
All great leaders begin with themselves. Are you showing up and ready to roll your sleeves to take of the customer and your employees? Great leaders lead by example. If you want a customer service culture, people need to see and feel your drive for service excellence. Your behaviors will speak louder than words.
Strategy #2-Create an on-going dialogue
Remember that the service culture is built on people. Leaderships is a dialogue, not a monologue. You have to initiate positive conversations with your employees and customers to add value to their lives. If you care enough, people will be on board with your vision of creating a customer service culture.
Strategy #3-Develop and grow the talent on your team
Great leaders build and grow their teams every day. You can’t win in the customer service business if your company is not dedicated to on-going training and growth. It’s simple as that. You will stay behind and most importantly, your culture will be outdated as well. Companies that thrive on service culture, take the time and resources to develop their employees’ gifts.