Service Excellence: The Bottom Line of Leadership
By Roberta Nedry President & Founder, Hospitality Excellence, Inc. | October 28, 2008
After all, we did choose this less civilized island environment and we were ready to roll with the punches.
Yet, when we arrived at a recommended island resort something happened.... something wonderful. Making each guest feel special and appreciated seemed to be a natural instinct for each employee we met, no matter what time of day. Addressing our specific needs, baby and all, seemed to be a priority from gardeners to housekeepers to bartenders to front desk staff. In spite of and despite economic hardships of the island and a less optimistic tourism atmosphere due to worldwide events, the hotel staff seemed trained and motivated to deliver exceptional service.
Consistent and constant good service like this, at all levels, is rare in today's world and hard to maintain, especially on an island with less educated and less experienced personnel from whom to choose. Even in major cities, where experienced hospitality employees are more available, keeping those employees continually excellent at each point of contact requires focused attention. Hiring, training, retaining and leading employees with the attitudes that will create the desired guest experience represents a constant challenge.
Usually there is one reason and one reason only for consistent and constant service success-the man or woman at the top. My hunch proved correct. " A red carpet attitude starts from the top." Employees continually cited the property's General Manager as their inspiration and the reason for their enthusiasm and longevity. They were not forced to deliver service excellence; they sincerely wanted to make guests happy. They were equipped with service skills and more importantly attitudes befitting a luxury resort. Most came to the property with no training or role models and ended up being shining service stars.
After I met this General Manager, I was even more delighted. He genuinely cared about his employees and made them feel important even when he was with guests. He'd spent a lot of time getting to know them and empowering them with a strong service sense. He was a property role model and walked the service talk. And the most powerful part of all, his occupancy numbers and repeat guest statistics were up while almost everyone else's in his market were down. Service excellence does and will impact the bottom line.
The attitude and service spirit of any organization absolutely reflects management's philosophy and actions. To lead employees in proactive customer service behaviors and encourage their active commitment, management must recognize, understand and practice those same behaviors. General Manager Anthony Bowen and his team at The Windjammer Landing, St. Lucia, in the West Indies did just that and created an experience for our family that far surpassed our expectations.