Outstanding service industry employees seem to be born for it. They have an innate sense of empathy and something that requires only the smallest amount of training. However, leadership still plays a huge part in creating a culture of service.
Service leaders have two major roles – training and example. Many brands known for fantastic service train their team members thoroughly, often to the point of standard phrasing when speaking to guests, such as “my pleasure” in response to a thank you. This isn’t necessary for optimal service reputation, but it does stand out. It’s important not to go overboard with this as it can sound too rehearsed, but some measure of guidance is helpful. For instance, rather than requiring a drawn-out standard greeting (“Welcome to Our Hotel, home of Something Awesome! My name is John, how can I be of service to you today?), practice various greetings with your employees until they find something that works with their personality that can be altered depending on the situation at hand.
Other service requirements include making eye contact, saying hello to guests they pass in the halls, staying in communication if things go wrong, and saying goodbye or holding the door if they see someone exiting the hotel.
Attitudes have a way of being contagious, so be sure your leadership staff consists of shining service examples. I watched an interesting front desk situation happen last week when the computers went down with a long line of people waiting. The manager was involved, but instead of communicating what was being done to fix it to the people waiting, she spent twenty minutes commiserating with the other staff members about how annoying this job can be. The staff members, who had up to that point been gracious and apologetic to the guests, picked up on her example and backed away from the waiting line to complain amongst each other.
Had the manager instead taken the opportunity to show good service by example, I believe that her staff members would have engaged the guests in conversation and made sure everyone knew something was being done to correct the situation. I am certain this story is extreme and rare; hospitality people tend to be very empathetic and willing to jump in and help. But it highlights the impact that one person can have on service levels, and the importance of strong leadership in service.