My friend, internationally acclaimed concierge-level service speaker Holly Steil and I were talking about what constituted world-class service. I had just returned from Malaysia and Singapore where I stayed in 4- and 5-star hotels. I gave her a few examples of what I thought was extraordinary service:
- The bellman who took me to my room of the 600-room at the Berjaya Times Square Hotel called me by name two days later, with no contact in between.”That’s standard at a high-end hotel,” Holly said.
- The concierge at The Legend Hotel who escorted me from the lobby down nine floors to hail me a cab, even though there was a doorman who could do it.Holly shared, “All concierges would assist you in getting a cab if they didn’t have another guest waiting.”
- The front desk clerk at the Gallery Hotel who took my carry-on luggage and escorted me to my room.”All guests should be escorted to their room,” Holly said. True, but it’s usually by a bellman, not the front desk staff.
- The front-desk and bell staff at the Gallery called me by name throughout my week-long stay.”Hotel staff should know and use guests’ names all through their stay.”
I argued that even though these things might be in the Standard Operating Procedure book, they were hardly standard in my experience, or at least not prevalently.
So if these things were supposedly standard at any good hotel, what made up higher level service at any operation, whether in retail, hospitality, or a call center? What behaviors made up concierge level service? And how could we teach these behaviors, ensure they were being used consistently, and measure the results of their use?
Holly said we had to teach staff how to think like a concierge. She says, “The practice of exercising creativity, ingenuity and efficiency to fulfill a customer request are job requirements that are nurtured and honed by the people who are known in hospitality for ultimate service. The attitudes and skills that make a successful concierge are applicable to many service oriented jobs, from administrative assistant to security guard, ticket-counter clerk to telephone service representative. It is the spirit in which the job is performed that makes the difference.”
But how does one teach resourcefulness? Creative thinking? Putting yourself in the customer’s shoes? How do you know when your people are going above and beyond? And what does above and beyond look like to your customers? They may think it is just what is expected when you think your staff has bent over backwards to provide a special service.
(Holly is the author of Ultimate Service, The Complete Handbook to the World of the Concierge — if you want to order a copy, you can do so at her Web site.)