Inspiring Exceptional Customer Service in Any Economy

Worried about the effects of a depressed economy on this year’s ski season? I have one question for you: WWYDIAWO? (What would you do in a white out?) Seriously. If there’s one group of people that knows how to get themselves out of gnarly situations, it’s skiers and snowboarders. So ask yourself right now, what would you do? Would you just keep skiing or boarding along with nary a care in the world? Or would you pause for a few minutes to take a good hard look around?

Still with me? Let’s say the current economic meltdown is your white out. On clear and sunny days you’re so busy charging ahead, there’s little time to stop, assess the situation and make adjustments or improvements in your business. But right now the bad economy is a swirling cloud that’s obstructing your view. It’s forcing you to stop charging ahead and have a good hard look around. And one of the things you’re seeing, maybe more clearly than ever, is how the people at your resort interact with your customers. You witness, for example, a less-than-brilliant exchange between an employee and a customer. You’re shocked and surprised. You think, “Gosh, I thought that guy (or gal) was better than that.” And you want to do something about it. Right now.

Luckily, exceptional customer service is one of the few things that don’t necessarily require you to spend large amounts of money. The fact is you can greatly improve your resort’s level of customer service in any economy. In doing so, you can develop ardent customer advocates who ensure your revenues keep coming in no matter what the economic weather may be.

Build yourself a substantial base
Just as great runs are built an inch of snow pack at a time, smooth, consistent customer service requires a carefully built foundation. It’s surprising how many resort leaders believe great customer service is something that is merely applied to the surface of an organization. You make a simple pronouncement, “Smiles everyone!” and marvelous customer service magically appears.

The truth is, for customer service to be authentic it must be strategically implanted in the resort’s bones. And that requires planning. Just as you have detailed plans for lift operations, grooming, marketing, accounting and F&B you need a detailed plan for customer service. A plan that describes how stellar customer service will be incorporated into every business area and job function. Whether an individual is in a customer facing position or works behind the scenes serving “internal customers” you should nail down clear and measurable objectives for how that person can and will positively affect the overall service your guests receive.

Every job is a customer service job
Got a plan? Okay, now take a look at your resort’s job descriptions. Do they talk about customers? Sure, most probably contain a one-liner that says something like “provide customers with great service” but how many of those job descriptions actually place customers front and center? Most of the job descriptions I’ve seen in the past 25 years provide detailed explanations of the daily duties that will be required in a job function. But few of them speak directly to the individual’s responsibilities when it comes to impacting the customer experience. This is particularly true of “internal customer” or corporate office job positions.

Have you ever seen a mention of customer service in an accounting job description? Yet who would deny that there are few things more annoying than an incorrect bill, an unexplained charge or a hassle when you attempt to have an error corrected? Your General Manager can be the most charming person in the world but if the bill is wrong and it’s difficult to get fixed, the gig is up. The point is, guest experiences are influenced as much by employees who work behind the scenes as they are by those who deal with customers face to face. Anyone who has ever been told, “We can’t do that” by a service team member can probably trace the reason back to an internal employee with little or no understanding of how his or her actions impact the organization’s ability to deliver exceptional customer service. Bottom line? If you want your organization to care about customers, customer service has to be front and center in every job description and every job. פלטפורמה לשירות לקוחות

The fine art of interviewing
In my experience, resorts that have the most success with customer service do a couple of key things during the hiring process that make all the difference in the world. First, the folks in Human Resources involve the supervisors and managers in serious discussions about the job skills and personality traits required to be successful in each position. Second, those in supervisory roles within the organization are provided with training that instructs them in the best way to interview potential employees.

This type of training can, for example, help a supervisor understand the important difference between a skill and a trait. A skill is something that can be learned and may be essential to the job position. A trait is a dimension of the applicant’s personality that can affect the success of the resort overall. For example, a senior lift mechanic must possess the ability to repair and maintain a lift’s mechanical parts. An unskilled interviewer might stop the questioning once he or she has discerned that an applicant has these skills. But that could be a big mistake. While traits like “caring” “cheerful,” and “good communicator” aren’t necessarily the first things that spring to mind when you think of a great lift mechanic, those traits become very important when that mechanic encounters a resort guest while en route to repair a broken lift. If the mechanic has the right traits, he or she will have the customer’s safety, comfort and enjoyment in mind – whether he’s riding past skiers on his snowmobile or is in the engine room repairing a mechanical issue.

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