Hotel Online Special Report
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The Myth of "Common Sense" Service
 
By  Tom Shanahan -  Professional Speaker / Consultant 
 
"Oh, you're a coupon person!" the server loudly exclaimed in the crowded espresso bar. The embarrassed coupon-bearer quickly left. The server was visibly upset that yet another rude customer had left before the order was ready. The server had no idea why the customer left nor the impact his seemingly innocent statement had on ALL of the customers present. 

At this point, many managers would say that the server didn't have good "common sense." But isn't "common sense", by definition, something everyone has? If "common sense" really existed, service persons would never embarrass their customers; they would never argue with guests about what they had ordered; they would never tell hotel guests that their room reservations couldn't be found when hotel rooms were available nor ask restaurant patrons if they had reservations when the restaurant was empty. Unfortunately, as all managers know, the list of service mistakes seems endless. If there was such a thing as "common  sense," few of these things would ever happen. 

This kind of poor service exists not because employees lack "common sense" but for one of two basic reasons: either the service person has not been trained to provide service from a customer's point of view or the service person knows how to provide good service but chooses not to. In either case, it is a management problem; and, fortunately, managers already have the solution readily available! 

"But I only hire experienced people!" managers cry. That may be the crux of the problem. 

Most of us operators have a tendency to hire "experienced" staff because it is the cheapest and easiest way to fill openings. The problem with this practice is that "experienced" people are not necessarily good at what they do. Experience is NOT expertise. (Practice does not make perfect; practice makes permanent.) When the pressure is on, people revert to their habits. If employees have been well trained initially, they probably have developed good habits. When it's busy in your hotel or restaurant, and depending on the service person's habits, the result is either good or bad service. 

But it doesn't matter what kind of service training your people have had if they are not motivated to provide the best service they can. (Motivation is a more difficult problem because it comes from within each individual and is often different for different people.) Management can create a "motivating" environment; that is, one in which the employees enjoy the Four C's; they are well-trained and competent; they feel confident of their abilities; they feel connected to their hotel or restaurant; and when they perform well, they are celebrated for their efforts. 

We all know that Service and Success are two sides of the same coin. If hospitality managers invest the time and effort to train and motivate their people, great service and operational success will follow.

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Contact:
Tom Shanahan
The Professional Speaker to the Hotel, Club and Restaurant Industry
13058 10th Ave. N.E.
Seattle, WA 98125
206-364-2981
email: shanahan@customerservice.com
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Also See: Good Employees are Hard to Find / Kirby D. Payne, CHA 
Measuring Training in the Hospitality Industry and Other Topics / Harry Nobles / Dec 1998 

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