I've worked in the Christian conference and retreat industry for almost 8 years now. I started part time evenings working the front desk at Lake Williamson; occasionally helping out in all departments such as housekeeping, maintenance, and the dining services. As my experience in the business grew, so did my customer service skills and the understanding of how to make our guests feel valued and appreciated. Unfortunately this new insight started to ruin my vacations.
After working in a business culture where guest service is a core value, it was hard to stay in hotels that didn't value their guests the way we were taught. These poor people were being compared to Lake Williamson the entire time! I would either think, "If they checked in at our desk we would have..." or "I can't believe they didn't explain that, at Lake Williamson our team would have ...". But in the same breath, it was also clear when a hotel was on top of their game – and yes I always made sure to compliment them so they knew they were doing an extraordinary job.
Now that I've explained my background, let's start talking about why all of this even matters! Just recently I vacationed in Orlando, Florida for a week and stayed at Hilton Grand Vacations. They have the customer service thing right! We pulled onto the grounds and up to the security station where a young man was standing, waving at all the cars coming in with a big smile on his face. He gave us our parking pass and directed us up to the main building to check-in. We pulled up and a gentleman opened my passenger door, greeting my husband and I by name, "Welcome Mr. and Mrs. Haschemeyer, we are so happy you are here! Just follow Jessica and she will take you to check-in." A young lady was waiting for us and walked us up to the building doors (that were motioned censored and opened automatically) as she asked us why we were vacationing and where we were from; did I mention with a big smile?!
The entire week we were there I never saw an employee not smiling at the guests; even housekeeping and groundskeepers. Employees in golf carts always waved as you walked or drove by them. If you were on an elevator with an employee, there was no standing there in silence, they asked where you were from, what you were doing in Florida and even offered suggestions of what to do while visiting.
All of this was impressive enough, but the biggest thing that just wowed me was their attitude. Every employee had a name badge on (no matter their position) and when you saw anyone they always asked how your stay was, and told you if you needed anything to let them know and told you their name. I couldn't stop talking about my wonderful experience to family members and co-workers once I got home. I honestly felt like royalty while I was staying there! I was there on a budget and I knew I wasn't paying as much as others but it didn't matter; for that week my husband and I felt like we were the most important guests staying there.
Whether you are a camp, hotel, or Christian conference center the same idea applies to all – without guests you go out of business, and to get returning guests you have to ensure they enjoy their time and experience at your facility. So, how does your business approach customer service? Is it an important training topic for your staff or just left to the side with no real focused training?
Tomorrow's blog will continue these thoughts on customer service - specifically on applying a customer service strategy to your business and getting your guests' feedback about how well your strategy worked.