Friday, February 6, 2009

Customer service excellence in the name of keeping your job

In these troubling economic times, more so than ever, employees need to stand out from the crowd. I might liken one's job and avoiding the dreaded pink slip to a ship on the sea that's facing rough waters. Any good captain will throw overboard what isn't absolutely necessary for the integrity of saving that ship. Are you absolutely "necessary" cargo? Are you the type of employee that is essential to the survival of your employer?

I'm heading to New York next week on business and asked my office to confirm a few details with the hotel. Since I'm staying there for an entire week, I'm hoping this hotel will be a comfortable home away from home. Unlike travelling for pleasure, business ventures usually require one to stay chained to their hotel desk like they would their office.

In addition to the usual business needs (high speed Internet, the ability to print documents, etc.), I prefer hotel rooms with fresh air and windows that open. Oddly enough, this request isn't always easy to find.

My staff called the hotel and the conversation went something like this:

"Can you tell me if your rooms have windows that open?"

"Hmm...I think so."

"Do you know if the windows open?"

"Hmmm...I think so."

Since the website is promoting this small, boutique hotel as a quaint and personalized sanctuary, logic would dictate that the front staff has actually taken the time to go into one of the rooms and see what's actually available to callers and guests.

I think this is how the conversation should have gone:

"Can you tell me if you have windows that open in your rooms?"

"Hmmm...that's a good question and I'm really not sure. Is that important to you?"

"Yes, actually it is."

"Well, if you can give me a few minutes, I'll see if I can check out one of the rooms and will call you back or have my manager do so."

I'm always taken back at the "that's not my department" mentality of service (or lack there of) in today's society. Should this front staff person have put himself in the shoes of the caller, they'd know that a week's stay in the hotel is a lengthy one and weary business travellers need every comfort possible. Should that person's manager have over heard this conversation, they may or may not have rewarded this initiative, but life will. What if the front staff person still received a pink slip even while treating that hotel and it's guests as if it where their own? The hotel is frequented by those in the media and Fortune 500 executives. That type of initiative wouldn't go unnoticed for long. Each caller or guest the front clerk faces could be their dream employer of the future.

What can you do today to learn more about the many facets and departments of your company that true, may not be "your department" today but could be in the future? Be the valuable cargo that your employer can't live without and you'll have a better chance of navigating this economic storm.

No comments: