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Customer Service, Loving Your Job, and Leadership

Hotel BellI’ve often wondered the connection between our people loving their jobs and the level of service they provide to the candidates they come in touch with throughout their days, and the clients we serve on executive search assignments at McDermott & Bull and MB Interim Leaders. I know there have been many articles written about job satisfaction, relationships with fellow employees, and service levels delivered by happy employees having fun at their jobs. I’ve often wondered how variations in leadership style affects this type of customer experience.

I recently had an excellent customer service experience in Tempe at a hotel. Now, I can be a stickler when it comes to service. I’ve experienced great service in the past, so when I get less than great, or I’m read the rules by an employee of a business I’m utilizing, it can be frustrating. I often say that my next job after I retire from search (I’m never retiring BTW!) will be a secret shopper. I feel I’m good at sniffing out great service, and even better at finding areas for improvement. I’m sure we all are good at that so I’m not sure I’m that unique in this area.

We just dropped our son off at ASU a few weeks back and stayed at the Sheraton Four Points in Tempe. The front desk manager, Lonyeta, helped get us checked in, but more importantly, she befriended me and my wife, and found out we were parents of a new ASU student. She gets a lot of our kind in her hotel (parents of new students), especially in mid-August, so her questioning to determine these facts was probably normal for her. But this is where normal ended.

I had a car that was very funky, even for me who rents cars very frequently, and couldn’t seem to figure out how to lock the doors. She ventured to the parking lot with me to help me figure it out. That was a first for me! Then, when we got back to the front desk, she offered us some drink coupons to welcome us for the first time to her hotel, and to find out more about us. Instead of pointing us to the bar (this was 9pm on a very busy day for us, so a glass of wine was a welcome indulgence), she went with us, and actually stood behind the bar and proceeded to talk with us while things weren’t overly busy at the desk. Wow – who does that? The bartender also talked with us, while serving other guests, and joked around with Lonyeta. We could tell they both liked each other as co-workers, as well as their jobs.

The next day, we came in contact with a server in the restaurant, another front desk worker, a maintenance worker who brought us tools so our son could fix his skateboard, and the omelette bar cook. Everyone joked with us, laughed, and had a lot of fun, and made it fun for us. My wife and I joked that we haven’t seen this level of service even at Ritz Carlton or Four Season hotels in the past.

The conclusion we came to – these people all loved their jobs, and it showed in how they treated each other and interacted with customers.

Teambuilding 2013Leadership must be the common denominator. I know for myself that if I can help my people love their jobs and have fun “at work”, it doesn’t feel like work and that fun-loving, jovial demeanor will extend to how they treat co-workers, candidates, clients, and others who they may come in contact with throughout their day. (Picture: Teambuilding Day 2013)

This one-night stay at the Sheraton Four Points, and my experience with Lonyeta and her people, reminds me that it all comes down to leadership, and a simple thing of making sure your people are having fun and loving their jobs, will translate into big dividends for customer experience.

If you have stories of your own to showcase leadership that creates a culture where their people love their jobs, please share them. I know I could use all the help I can get!

UPDATE:

I had the opportunity to meet with Jason, the GM of this hotel, a couple weeks later and he shared a few things with me. He’s only been there since January and much of the staff has changed since then. Office Supply Happy FaceJason values people that are personable, respectful, and fun. He said, “Rules are made to be broken when it comes to serving a customer,” and he’s rarely had an issue with an employee going out of their way and doing something different to satisfy a customer.

Jason admitted that the hotel has some challenges going on right now, like upgrades, so it’s even more imperative that his people offer incredible service and customer interactions; otherwise, the challenges will be what the customer remembers and that will be reflected on their customer surveys.

He tries to have fun and be goofy with his employees. It’s a 24/7 job and his people take that seriously so behind closed doors, they try to have a good time and be pretty fun with each other to keep things light.

Having met Jason confirmed my previous belief that leadership really sets the tone for the entire company and its employees.

Email Rod McDermott
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