I don’t know, maybe it’s because I travel so much. I’m exposed to customer service, or the lack of it, every day on so many various levels. It seems to becoming more and more evident that we’re in the middle of an epidemic of disastrous proportions concerning the quality of the service in today’s environment.
At a time when quality service would seem to be an obvious strategy for most any business, it appears to be neglected regularly.
Consider this obvious example.
I visit the Bellagio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on a regular basis as a keynote speaker at a variety of leadership conferences. Industries choose the Bellagio because of its tremendous reputation for focus on the customer.
On my visits, who do you think will have the greatest input and impact on my memory of this property, my experience, the possibility of my return, and what I say to others about my stay?
Will it be the Chairman of the Board, the President, or those at C-Level (CEO-CFO-COO) positions?
Or, will it be the valet parking attendant, the bell hop, the front desk clerk, a telephone operator, or members of the housekeeping staff?
Well, let’s be realistic. That first group of individuals is critical to the success of a major attraction such as the Bellagio and they certainly deserve a great deal of credit.
However, that wasn’t my question. My question was: On my visits, who do you think will have the greatest input and impact on my memory of this property, my experience, the possibility of my return, and what I say to others about my stay?
It takes only a moment to realize that the second group actually has a greater impact on me than the highly educated, highly experienced, and highly paid executives. And the reason is simple. The second group comes into contact with the customer much more often than the executives!
I get my impressions and make my decisions based on the quality of those contacts: Plain and simple.
Now, of the two groups, who is usually:
- Paid less money?
- Receives fewer benefits?
- Receives less information and feedback?
- Has less experience?
- Receives less training?
- Is less appreciated?
Kind of frightening, isn’t it?
Now let’s be realistic. I’m not suggesting you pay this second group more money than the executives … nor offer more benefits. That’s totally unrealistic. However, we can certainly prepare them for reaching that level one day by offering everything on that list. And yet we seldom do.
The behavior of these front-line people can make or break our business and yet we do little or nothing to prepare them for that enormous responsibility.
So how do you explain the success of the Bellagio? Its pay is very similar to the other hotels on the strip. It hires from the same potential employee pool as its competitors. What makes the difference?
It’s actually very simple.
- The Bellagio screens its applicants.
- The Bellagio provides strong expectations of the performance it requires of its employees.
- The Bellagio provides the necessary training to provide those skills.
- The Bellagio inspects what they expect (accountability).
- The Bellagio provides consequences, both positive and negative, for employee performance.
- The Bellagio celebrates success.
I almost feel ridiculous posting that list because it’s so very obvious. On the other hand, very few organizations do it! Yet, look at the great consequences afforded the Bellagio for doing so. It has a reputation that is second to none and it continues to reap tremendous ROI for its efforts.
Have you prepared your staff for their crucial role in your success? Think about it!