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Remarkable Service: Trend or DNA?

08-01-2017
Andy Kalikas

Think back to the best service experience you have ever had.  Do you mentally journey back to a favorite restaurant, a great shopping experience, or maybe an amazing vacation?  Since so many of us can relate, let’s talk about a hotel stay.  For many years, hotels have been the pioneers of service: good and bad.  The best ones create unique and memorable experiences, while the worst gives us flashbacks to barely clean rooms, rude staff and failed to wake up calls at 7:00 AM.

Service is #Trending

Most companies right now are jumping on the Client Experience trend with very little or no real passion for the client.  From hospitals and airlines to tech and retail companies, job search sites are flooded with positions related to “client experience,” building “journeys,” and identifying “touchpoints.”  But when it comes to pure, authentic service experiences, few will truly commit to it, and even fewer will succeed.

It’s in our DNA

When I was with The Ritz-Carlton, we would often get challenged with comments like, “look what Uber is doing!  They are creating a new client experience!”  We would simply respond, “they have their standard, we have ours,” and continue to take care of our guests and innovate their experience.  After all, we hired for service DNA, and we referred to our employees and guests alike as “Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.”  A couple of years later here we are… shocking, right? Learning what not to do like those companies who were treating service like a trend, rather than a foundational element in their business.

The right components to building Client Experience

Commitment – Company-wide top to bottom.  Is the CEO as engaged in taking care of clients as employees on the front line?  Do you, as the leadership team, tolerate bad attitudes?

Alignment – Is everyone in the company marching in the same direction with the same smile?

Empowerment – Are your employees trained and empowered to make the right decisions, or do you have policies that restrict your front-line employees?

Measurement – How do you measure client experience?  Monthly?  Quarterly?  Annual goals?  Per team per division?

However, none of those factors will matter if you don’t have the right employees who genuinely care about each other and your customers.

Your business will always depend on who you choose to represent it, at any level.  Attitude is a choice.

Trend or DNA

The thing about service is as humans; we can tell when something is genuine and when it is forced.  It doesn’t matter whether, like me, you were born in Estonia and have lived in Ireland, Arizona, Colorado, and Florida, or whether you have lived in the same place your entire life.  When you think about truly remarkable service, questions like, “how did they know I would like that?” and “do they do this for everyone?” come to mind – because the service DNA shines brighter than the fake smile or forced “thank you for calling and have a great day.” Exceptional service is astonishing, leaving us energized, refreshed, and inspired.

After spending 20 years in the hospitality industry, I can tell you that your expectations in every other industry should be higher.  Service professionals should greet you nicely, be knowledgeable and professional, and do whatever they can within their power to assist.  All companies have policies and procedures, but understanding the why behind those policies is important.  So, while companies invest time and money into training and development, remember this…a right attitude and a smile don’t cost a thing.

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