News for the Hospitality Executive
Service Excellence 101: How to Serve a VIP
June 7, 2011
When I was a line employee in the hotel business, I would usually be the person assigned to serve the VIP guests. Whether I was a server or a concierge, my managers trusted me to provide exceptional customer service to the CEO’s, celebrities, and royalty that would visit. In my manager’s minds, those guests needed “extra special service”. While I was flattered that my managers thought so highly of my customer service skills, I was always bothered by their assertion that some guests should get “better” treatment than others should. In my mind, all of my guests were VIP’s. I truly never made a distinction between how I served the supposed VIP’s and every other guest I had. In my heart, I felt (and still feel) that EVERYONE deserves excellent service, regardless of their socioeconomic status, job title, or any other label. For me, serving the Queen of England is just as honorable as serving Joe Smith, who is on vacation with his family of four.
First Class vs. Coach
As many of you know, I am a frequent traveler and one of the perks of travelling often is being upgraded to the first-class cabin. While I enjoy the larger seats and additional amenities, there is one thing that bothers me: I am often treated much nicer by the flight attendants in first-class, than when I am in coach. It’s like a completely different service experience, although I’m on the same plane.
A company that is truly striving to build a “world-class” service culture will make every effort to develop service standards that emphasize exceptional service for EVERY customer, all the time. Now, this does not mean that every customer should get the same service. True service excellence requires personalization and making each customer feel as though there is no one else, at that moment, more important than him or her. Using customer’s names and learning their preferences are two ways to accomplish personalized service.
Service is NOT about what you want to give
I have witnessed many occasions when someone tried to be engaging, but ended up annoying and disengaging the customer. For example, wrestling a suitcase from a guest who would rather carry it herself is annoying. Insisting on escorting a customer, when he has already declined your offer is annoying. Trying to establish an engaging dialogue, when it’s clear that the customer would rather be left alone is annoying. As I have written previously, service is not about what you want to give, it is about what the other person wants to receive.
Give “insider” tips
One of the best ways to make your customers feel like a VIP is by giving them insider information. In other words, making your customers feel like they are privy to valuable information that is not widely known (or at least they may perceive that the information is not widely known). For example, Enterprise Rent-a-Car has a service called, We’ll pick you up. This basically means that the Enterprise location, where you are renting the car, can send a shuttle to pick you up from wherever you are (home, office, etc.) and bring you back to their branch to rent the car. I recently saw an employee tell a customer about that service and the customer was incredibly impressed. The customer commented that he thought that such service was only reserved for their big-shot clients.
At a recent trip to the CVS Pharmacy in our neighborhood, an employee saw a shopper looking at canned salmon (yes, CVS sells grocery items too). The employee proactively approached the shopper and told him that the salmon was half price, even though the displayed price did not reflect the reduced price. The employee explained that every week, the CVS sales paper contains deals that only those who subscribe to receive the sales paper, will know about. How do you think that shopper felt? You guessed it, like a VIP.So, here are a few simple tips on how to serve everyone like a VIP:
"Dr. Williams energy, passion and "real-world" examples of Five Star Service resonated with our General Managers during our recent General Managers Conference. He is an EXCELLENT investment towards our future growth strategies"
--Matthew A. Woodruff, Vice President, Guest and Brand ExcellenceTaj Cape Town team. The session was extremely beneficial and was conducted in a highly professional manner. Our team here also took great advantage of this unique webinar and we were blessed by Bryan’s way of dazzling and delighting us with different views on approaching guests.
–Pravin Bancharam, Learning & Development Manager
Taj Cape Town
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B.Williams Enterprise Updates:
* Be sure to read our two new "Work Like You Own It!" blog entries. These new entries feature the world-class Taj Cape Town Resort in South Africa and Freshens Smoothies/Yogurt in Atlanta's Airport,
About the Author
Dr. Bryan K. Williams is the Chief Service Officer of B.Williams Enterprise, and the author of Engaging Service: 22 Ways to Become a Service Superstar. Bryan’s passion is world-class customer service, and has facilitated workshops and delivered keynotes all over the world for various companies. He speaks on a variety of topics related to service excellence, employee engagement, and organizational improvement. As a consultant, Bryan works closely with companies to design, develop, and implement sustainable service strategies. His company’s online store includes a growing collection of customer service products that are well-suited for your training library.
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-We exist to serve others so they may better serve the world ®.-
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