Guests can sometimes be impressed by even the smallest acts of kindness so much that it affects them deeply. These acts of kindness are why guests return to your business. Such acts are considered personal service and they can be what makes a business a success. Guests return to hotels and restaurants where they feel welcomed, important, treated special, and taken care of. One such act was executed by a room service staff member of a hotel. The staff member, Maria, took the initiative to fulfil a guest’s request even when it was not expected of her. Mr. Shafer, the guest, arrived at her hotel very late and hungry. The beverage he requested was unavailable, so she thoughtfully went down to a lower floor to purchase the beverage he was hoping for in a vending machine. He was so touched by her compassionate personal service that he immediately conveyed his feedback through several channels within the hotel. Her thoughtfulness was the subject of many of his business conversations and presentations years later. Her effective personal service made all the difference to Mr. Shafer’s stay.
Could Maria Garcia have learned her personal customer service, the act of getting Mr. Shafer a diet Coke instead of a diet Pepsi, from her company or did she know to retrieve it on her own?
Customer service is taught in businesses through training, mentoring and experience. Many aspects of good customer service can be conveyed through situational exercises. But good personal service is basically human nature. (Martin, 2001) You can teach someone to be a server or front desk clerk but having a positive attitude and compassion for others is more of a natural occurrence. Your outlook or personality is formed from your environment and your life experiences. Personal service is an interaction-based concept, how you feel you should react to someone else’s needs and wants is going to determine how you display customer service. Personal service is vital element of good quality customer service but requires understanding and appreciation. (Martin, 2001)
What qualities may have stood out to the hotel when Maria was interviewing that let them know she was a good candidate for the position?
First impressions are very important when establishing a good rapport with a guest or making someone feel special. The interviewer would take note of how Maria addressed them or what she said to express a positive greeting. The motel would evaluate whether or not she was displaying a good attitude during the interview process. They should notice her body language which would suggest her comfort level. The interviewer could have gone through some situational scenarios to see how Maria would react in certain situations. They could gauge her tone of voice to evaluate her attitude during certain situations.
Even though Maria’s action was a simple one, it was enough of an impact to stay with Mr. Shafer for many years. As a manager overseeing Maria’s room service department, I would use her example as a method to motive others in the department and initiate a recognition program for staff that go above and beyond. When people are recognized for their deeds, they provide examples to others as to how to improve their customer service skills.
Mr. Shafer had checked in to his room very late at night, hungry and in need of room service. When the room service kitchen was out of the beverage he preferred, Maria took it upon herself to purchase his choice from the vending machine and bring it back to his room. While she was not required to take such action, she knew it was a small task on her part that could mean the world of difference to Mr. Shafer. He was so touched by her act of kindness and compassion that it compelled him to contact the hotel and sing her praises. He went on to incorporate the story of her exceptional personal service in his talks and publications.
What measures can we as managers take to be more cognizant of our customers’ needs such as Mr. Shafer who checked in after midnight?
When considering my guests needs, I put myself in their place. How would I feel checking in somewhere after midnight? To ensure your guests feel welcomed and safe the hotel should be adequately lighted so they may safely enter the building without concern. Once in the building, what would a guest need or want? As a manager, to make my guests feel taken care of I would incorporate asking if they would like anything sent up from room service in the standard process after a certain time at night. This additional step would lessen their wait time and the order can begin to be prepared while they are getting settled in their room. If available in the hotel, show guests their comfort is important by having all late arriving guests escorted by service staff. When guests arrive late, and they are tired it can be strenuous to find your room and enter it successfully. Guests should feel taken care of both physically and psychologically during their stay in your establishment. (Martin, 2001)
When instances arise and a customer or guest receives special treatment or unexpected rewards, there is usually a sense of excitement and surprise. When this happens how should you react? What can you do to acknowledge the special treatment and express gratitude?
One time my family was on their way to a hotel when we were held up by an accident. We called the hotel to let them know we would be arriving late. We eventually arrived at the hotel about three hours later. We were exhausted and hungry, but the room service kitchen was already closed. The front desk staff put together a snack and beverage basket for my family and sent it up to our room. We were so happy and appreciative of their thoughtfulness. It was a big relief as we were hungry and traveling with younger children. We immediately called to thank them all at the desk and the next day my husband contacted the general manager of the hotel to express our appreciation and gratitude. We still remain loyal to the hotel as we always feel welcomed and pleased.
The ability to continuously deliver exceptional personal service can be the difference between a business thriving and a standard operation. (Martin, 2001) In order to make your business stand out from others is to understand your guests. A business must know what their customers want and what they expect, then go above and beyond that. Guests should feel safe, welcomed, important and taken care of. Imagine the things that make you feel special when you visit a hotel or restaurant. Consider that services that motivate you to want to return to a business again and again.
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