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Service Excellence – From the Inside Out

Written by Chuck Kelley, Cayuga Hospitality Consultants

Service excellence is about delivering to the customer expectation – meeting and slightly exceeding that expectation. Notice I said “slightly exceeding” and I say that because if you go above and beyond you begin to create a customer expectation you can’t achieve without negatively impacting other priorities.

Let’s assume that 50% (probably high) of your employees interact with your customers on a regular basis. That means that the other 50% of your employees only interact with other employees yet we frequently neglect or underestimate the significance of the employee interactions. Therefore my philosophy of “from the inside out”

  • Begin your training in the back of the house with as much focus on customer/employee interactions as skills training – more focus on engagement and motivation. The customer of the back of the house employee is the front of the house employee.
  • Train your customer contact employees to understand and respect the role of the back of the house and how their success depends on the back of the house.
  • Develop recognition and/or incentive programs that equally reward front of house and back of house employees. Don’t allow your programs to create a two class society within your property.
  • Ensure that your organizational structure is designed to facilitate internal communications between departments. Watch for “silos” and break down the barriers.
  • Mistakes – own them and accept responsibility at the highest level. Make sure this is the mantra at all levels within your organization. It starts at the top by example.
  • Empower your employees to solve problems and recognize or reward success. Don’t gauge success or failure based on the cost of the associated rebates. The value of keeping that customer far exceeds the cost of the rebates. Remember the last thing your customer wants to hear is “let me check with my manager”.

Start from the inside out and create a solid foundation. How often have you found that the root cause of a customer problem can be traced to a back of house failure? Make sure you’re hiring practices, training, recognition programs, compensation plans, empowerment philosophy and workplace environment efforts are equally balanced across all employees and the management team. The key to success is in attitude and desire to achieve excellence and for that you need a solid foundation – start from the inside out.

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