A client recently moved to a newly refurbished hotel as General Manager, and asked us to come and stay soon after he arrived to check it out from the guests’ point of view.
I found it so different to just staying at a hotel, one suddenly becomes hyper-aware, noticing so many details. I looked at everything from a new perspective and really questioned how each experience could make a difference to each customer.
I came away with two main thoughts; you never know when someone is watching and how do we find the ‘new’ eyes to see how we provide our service for our customers?
On the first point, I really understood that in business you are always, always on show. So you had better enjoy the experience and be authentic, or you will be sending a mixed message that will certainly be picked up, even if they do not know why, people will absolutely feel an unease around you. It is not about being in an endless good mood, but it is about making your job all about the customer and taking pride in the service you provide. No matter how down or disinterested you might feel, thinking about someone else can lift us in a surprising way. As a great fan of servant leadership this sits well with me, and for those of us running our own business especially, the customer, within the bounds of contract, is certainly God.
There was a young man at the hotel, who cleared a table with a courtesy that we immediately responded to; it was in no way servile, just pleasant and we responded in a like thoughtful manner. He stood with confidence and pride, feet planted squarely on the ground with shoulders back. When we made a particular note to our client about him we were delighted to hear that he had also noticed the young man and had already earmarked him for progression. This was within days of our client working at the hotel, our comments confirming that the young man had more to offer. Although he had no knowledge at all that he was being noticed, his attitude to his job will undoubtedly move him on.
Equally then, it must be the case that doing your job with disinterest, delivering a presentation with minimal effort, a lunch with people you believe will not interest you, will equally have the potential to hold you back from success.
So to my second point of how do we look at our own service with new eyes? Well, I think it is about not resting on any previous good feedback. As you often hear actors say, you are only as good as your last performance. Often when an event or piece of work has been well received in the past we could be led to believe that it does not need improvement. I think one thing this recession has taught many of us is that one must always be looking at how to get an edge and do something, anything and everything better than before. To give substance to that belief I can tell you that we both, for separate reasons, sent back our main course at dinner. The chef was aghast apparently, he had previously won a rosette for his food. Well, it was without the doubt the worst meal I had ever had at any hotel, never mind this four-star one, so I think there is a strong chance that he has been resting on his laurels and not providing the excellent service he is capable of.
It is clear that if we want to be successful, then we must never rest on past success; we should look forward with enthusiasm at the good service we are going to deliver in the future.