Are your staff resourceful?

I had flown in to keynote a customer service conference at a resort. Because of weather delays and too-tight connections, I hadn’t eaten since lunch, and now, after 9:00 p.m., the destination airport concessions were closed. I asked my driver to stop at a fast food place so I could eat during our hour-long drive, but he said there weren’t any on our route but he could go 30 minutes out of our way to find one. I opted to wait until I arrived at the beach resort, assuming since it was a well-known mid-range chain there would be at least room service.

At 10:15, when checking in, I asked if the restaurant was still open. “No,” came the reply from the front desk clerk. “How about room service?” I hopefully asked. “No, they close at 10:00, too.” Can you call the restaurant manager, as he might still be there?” “He’s gone home.”

My overtired brain continued asking about options. “Is there a mini-bar in my room?” “No.” “Vending machines?” “No.” She was not picking up on my hunger cues. I went to my room and called room service myself, just to check. No one answered.

Luckily, I had my travel almond stash to stave off the hunger. But I was hungry for more than food — I was starved for resourcefulness!

In a comparable situation for your staff, how resourceful would they be? Would they think beyond the obvious? Would they stick with it until a solution was found?

The next day I told this story from the platform to illustrate how staff behaves when no management is around to observe. The hotel sales rep caught wind of my plight and apologized. She said, “There were other options she should have known to offer. The bar has free popcorn, so even though it was closed, she could have had the manager on duty open it to get some for you.”

When I said I was just looking for something to stop my stomach’s rumblings, popcorn, or a little cheese and crackers and a banana would have been fine.

She said, “The manager on duty could have opened the kitchen for you and easily done crackers, cheese and fruit for you. It would have taken 5 minutes.” But calling the manager on duty was not offered nor done.

She went on, “Or she could have told you about the pizza delivery options, or Waiters on Wheels — the menus are at the front desk. Or the nearby 7-11 or a 24-hour fast food place a 5-minute cab drive away.” None were suggested.

So instead of just leaving a famished traveler to her own devices — and almonds — this hotel has now given me a story to illustrate how unresourceful your staff may be and you’ll never know. But now several hundred people know — and they know the hotel’s name and location.

How are your people doing in the resourcefulness department? Have someone check. Or you’ll never know.

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1 thought on “Are your staff resourceful?”

  1. That is a great topic (resourcefulness) that organizations never consider to include in their new hire training courses. While they may spend plenty of time going over the nuts-and-bolts of policies and procedures, they never seem to realize that “what if” scenarios are their greatest opportunity for success.

    We rarely ask, “If Plan “A” doesn’t work, what’s Plan “B”?

    There is so much focus on process training that we forget to look at the “spirit”of the training topic. In your case, customer service is more than just telling you what they can’t do, it should be solution-focused which gets them out of the “rule book.”

    How much trouble could they get into with management if they say they broke some rule because they were trying to serve the customer? And then had a nice note from you to show the boss?

    Just think what a great customer service story you could tell if that desk person had said instead, “Well, let’s raid the refrigerator and see what we find!”

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