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January 8

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Service Excellence: Inspect What You Expect

By Dr. Bryan K. Williams, D.M.
November 30, 2010

If we truly want to serve in an exceptional manner, then we must regularly look at service from our customer’s perspective. It can become quite easy to get so caught up in the day-to-day operation of our jobs, that we unintentionally overlook simple service errors. We, as service providers, can become very focused on giving service, and forget that it’s all about how our customers receive that service. As I’ve stated before, service is not about what we want to give…it’s about what the other person wants to receive.

On a recent hotel stay, I decided to order dinner through room service. I wasn’t that hungry, so I only ordered a bowl of chicken noodle soup. The chicken noodle soup came as planned. The utensils were wrapped in a cloth napkin (as I’ve seen before in many other food & beverage operations). When I unfolded the napkin, however, I noticed there was a fork, knife, and teaspoon. Given that I ordered soup, the only utensil that I could actually use was the teaspoon, which was not an ideal choice. A soup spoon or, at least, a dessert spoon would have been more appropriate.

The following morning, I ordered oatmeal and once again, I received the same utensils. This time, I asked the server to please bring me a bigger spoon. Do you think that the server took note of my request and relayed the information to her boss so the team could improve the annoying utensil situation? Not sure…actually, probably not. Ideally, the hotel would have a process whereby a room service employee would call the room a few minutes after the food was delivered to inquire if all was well. That way, the room service team would proactively have a system in place to identify and address service errors before the customer becomes upset. Inspect what you expect. 

When I placed the oatmeal order, there was an option for 2% or skim milk to accompany the oatmeal. What do you think the milk is supposed to be used for? You guessed it…to pour into the oatmeal. The oatmeal came with a glass of milk…not a mini-pitcher or some other tool to effectively pour, but a full-fledged wine-glass with milk in it. Of course, when I tried pouring the milk into the full bowl of oatmeal, the milk spilled all over the place. Inspect what you expect.

Upon checking out of the hotel, I told the front desk agent about the soup and oatmeal issues (she also happened to be the front desk manager). As we know, most guests don’t complain, they just leave and don’t return. Then they’ll talk about you, write blogs about you and make internet videos about you. As a manager, regularly “shop” the service experience that your team provides. Give feedback and make improvements daily. Teach your team to be quality auditors. Have them ask themselves, “What does my guest need in order to fully enjoy what I’m serving?” Encourage your team to solicit feedback, review the collected feedback as a team, then make improvements accordingly. You’ll be surprised at how many improvements are quick-fixes.

Make it a scheduled activity to audit the customer experience. The same way you have budget meetings and manager meetings on your calendar, please put the service audits on your calendar as well. It is that important. When inspecting ask yourself, “What are my guests seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling? In addition to personally inspecting what you expect, another great way to capture the customer’s experience is to intimately solicit feedback from your customers. Be sure to get a nice cross-section of long-time customers (ambassadors), not quite long-time customers and new customers. This is to get multiple perspectives. On a quarterly or even a semi-annual basis, schedule an informal meeting or conference call to thank them for their patronage and to simultaneously solicit ways to better serve them. Some customers are more likely to open up and be thoroughly honest via these types of methods than the traditional comment card system.

Regardless of the setting, service always boils down to someone being the recipient of someone else’s products and/or services. Your guests deserve the best you have to offer every time. Tell your team that serving others is a beautiful thing. Having the opportunity and privilege to positively impact someone else’s day is a gift they should be proud of giving. An anonymous author wrote it best, “No one is more cherished in this world than someone who lightens the burden of another”.

B.Williams Enterprise Updates: 

Recent Testimonial
“Your presentation was absolutely the best ever!  It was the highlight of my trip to ISPA (International Spa Association 2010 Convention)!  Your series on service superstars should be a prerequisite for any job in the hospitality industry.”
            --Denise Haddaway, The Inn at Perry Cabin
“I was one of the attendants to the 5-star Leadership class in Milan, Italy on November 11th 2010 at the Grand Hotel et de Milan. I'd like to thank you very much for your wonderful job regarding the interesting classes you gave us. They are and will be certainly so helpful in better leading a successful team.”
            --Vera Mazzoni, Villa d’Este  
“It's great to see that, a few days after your training sessions for our team, people are very positive about the things they learned. In several ways, we're trying to implement your tips and tricks and looking forward to increase our service to the world class-level.”
  --Mr. Michiel Roelfsema, Hotel Okura Amsterdam

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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Also See: Work Like You Own It 2.0; Energize it. Recognize it. Celebrate it. / Bryan K. Williams, D.M. / September 2010

World-Class Service 101: Know the difference between meeting and exceeding expectations / Dr. Bryan K. Williams / July 2010

Service Superstars Part 2: Treat them like they own it! / Dr. Bryan K. Williams / June 2010

Make each touchpoint memorable: Cha-Ching! / Dr. Bryan K. Williams / April 2010

Service Superstars: Work like you own it! / Bryan Williams / February 2010

Complimentary resources from Bryan K. Williams and B.Williams Enterprise! Begin 2010 with a focus on world-class service. / January 2010

Service Ambassadors: The Key to Providing World-Class Service / Bryan K. Williams / November 2009

5-Star Employees - Part 3 / Bryan K. Williams / September 2009

5-Star Employees - Part 2 / Bryan K. Williams / August 2009

5-Star Employees - Part 1/ Bryan K. Williams / July 2009

Engaging Service: 22 Ways to Become a Service Superstar / Bryan K. Williams / July 2009

Complimentary tele-seminars with Bryan K. Williams in July! / July 2009

Building a Team of Living It Employees / Bryan K. Williams / June 2009

World-Class Service: What if every employee served like a concierge? / Byran K Williams / March 2009

5 Star Leadership: What Does It Take to Be a 5-star Leader? / Byran Williams / February 2009

5 Stars vs. 4 Stars: What’s the Difference? / Byran Williams / January 2009

Complimentary training with Bryan Williams / January 2009

The 7 Principles of EngageMeTM is now available! / Bryan K. Williams / November 2008

Hiring and Engaging a World-Class Team / Bryan K. Williams / October 2008

Great Ideas for National Customer Service Week 2008 / Bryan K. Williams / September 2008

Delivering World-Class Service Part 3: Company Service Standards / Bryan K. Williams / September 2008

Delivering World-Class Service Pt. 2: Personal Service Standards / Bryan K. Williams / September 2008

Delivering World-Class Service: Function vs. Purpose / Bryan K. Williams / August 2008

Guest Problem Resolution 101: Power of the Follow-Up / Bryan K. Williams / June 2008

7 Principles to Fully Engage Your Customers – Part 2 / Bryan K. Williams / May 2008

7 Principles to Fully Engage Your Customers / Bryan K. Williams / April 2008

I Am a Service Professional™ / Bryan K. Williams / March 2008

Engage Every Customer…One Touchpoint at a Time / Bryan K. Williams / January 2008

Engaging Service Part 2: It’s All About the Culture / Bryan K. Williams / December 2007

Engaging Service Part 1: Not Just for the Chic / Bryan K. Williams / November 2007

Service Excellence: A Destination or a Journey? / Bryan K. Williams / October 2007

National Customer Service Week is Coming Soon - October 1-5, 2007 / September 2007

National Customer Service Week is Coming Soon - October 1-5, 2007 / September 2007

Engage Me…the Voice of Your Customer / September 2007

Customer Engagement: Where do we begin? / Byran K Williams / August 2007

Engage Me…the Voice of Your Customer / / August 2007

B. Williams Enterprise, LLC Launches Engage Me…  the Voice of Your Customer / August 2007

To Engage…Listen to the Voice of Your Customer / Byran K Williams / August 2007

To Engage the Guest, You Must Engage Those Who Directly Serve the Guest / Byran K Williams / July 2007

Three Service Rules: The Golden Rule, Platinum Rule, and Double Platinum Rule/ Byran K Williams / June 2007

The Greatest Bellman I Ever Met… / Bryan K. Williams / April 2006

Sorry to Say…But Some People Should Not be Serving Other Human Beings / Bryan K Williams / October 2006

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