This is a quick one with a simple but very powerful message and a quiz. One you’ve heard from me before but is worth hearing again from Isadore Sharp, the founder and CEO of one of the top 100 companies to work for - the Four Seasons hotel and resort chain. Also one of the top hotel chains in the world.
The Four Seasons hotels are famous for thinking about how to make a customer’s stay more pleasant and worthy of return stays. For example, Sharp was the first to have free shampoo placed in his hotel rooms. He wanted to make it easier for people to feel like home at the hotel and that the four Seasons had thought of everything for their convenience and pleasure. He and all his people make certain that guests receive consistently excellent service so they are pleased to be able to spend more for a Four Seasons stay than most anywhere else and want to come back whenever they can.
Shampoo, you and I can get most places. Even breakfast at Hampton Inn but alas even my first choice Hampton Inns do not match the service of a Four Seasons. Or so I have learned from others not yet having had the opportunity to stay at one. Hilton, Hampton and Marriott more my level I have to admit.
Sharp‘s secret? Here is what he said to Fortune Magazine.
Personal service is not something you can dictate as a policy. It comes from the culture…How you treat your employees is how you expect them to treat the customer.
Second Four Season’s secret – hiring people with the right service attitude followed by training and more training and then some more. Then they are treated as someone with value who contributes to the quality of the hotel and guest experience. Employees are paid fairly, promotions are heavily from within, and all employees get to stay in Four Season hotels anywhere in the world for free.
But what really makes employees feel valued is they are empowered to fix a situation when it arises. They do not have to get permission to help someone or check with a supervisor. The assumption is they will know the rules and culture so use your best judgment and help the guest. And if they have an idea, they are encouraged to bring it forward themselves.
Compare yourself to the Four Seasons and other Top Companies to work for. If you are an administrator or manage, you are the you. If you are not an administrator or manager, grade your senior administration.
These are yes or no questions.
- Would staff and students agree you have a CULTURE of service to students and others? yes___ no____
- Do you know peoples’ names? yes___ no____
- Do you now names of five staff outside of your office area? yes___ no____
- Do you know the names of at least two maintenance or service staff? yes___ no____
- Do you come back at night to talk with evening staff? yes___ no____
- Do you walk the halls and talk with employees and students daily? yes___ no____
- Do you treat all employees as you do faculty and oh yuh students assuming you treat them well to retain their support? yes___ no____
- When you hire, do you go from the resume or dig down to get the people with a service attitude to hire people who like students? yes___ no____
- Has there been customer service training held on campus yet this year? yes___ no____
- Has there been customer training for management this year? yes___ no____
- Was there customer service training on campus last year? yes___ no____
- Were your last five hires promotions from within or external hires? yes___ no____
- Do your folks get raises at least equal to yours? yes___ no____
- Do employees who have been at the school at least six months get free coursework? yes___ no____
- Are employees encouraged to use imitative in solving student issues? yes___ no____
- Do all employees have an opportunity to bring ideas to the president? yes___ no____
- Do students know your name or who you are? yes___ no____
- Do you say hello to every student or employee you pass in the halls, parking lot or anywhere on campus? yes___ no____
- Have at least five employees come up to you and started a conversation with you outside of your office in the past two weeks? yes___ no____
- Is your 5 year average annual employee turnover rate 12% or less? yes___ no____
How many yes responses here? Go back and check some of your yeses. Be as honest as you can with yourself. Sure the quiz is going to help determine your final grade but let’s use this as a practice exam so you know where to improve. Multiply each yes by 5 and determine your grade.
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