February 9, 2017

What Makes Your Company Memorable?


Use these ideas in business and life: three examples of hospitality to inspire you…

“She said I’m not friendly,” Sam, team member, whined, entering the office. He checked his watch and added slowly, trying to sound relaxed: “Something has made me hungry.”

“Who said WHAT?” Emily, team leader assistant, asked quickly, sipping her coffee.

Sam sighed and told her the name of his client. That surprised Emily. “She is a nice person. Hmm…Well, friendly people are not always friendly with their customers. It seems you’ve made a bad impression on her.”

“Are you saying I’m not friendly? Sorry, I should work now – loads of work. Business as usual,” Sam replied wistfully.

Ruth, team leader deputy, put her pen aside, waited, and said calmly: “Relax, Sam. I think Emily is right.”  

Her words produced a long silence, and finally: “Friendly … means helpful,” Ruth said and suddenly changed the topic, “folks, I forgot to tell you something.” She started talking about The Inn at 410 in Flagstaff, where she had stayed during the summer holiday. “Gordon…” 

“Have I missed something? Who is Gordon?” Emily asked with a laugh.
“The owner of the Inn. Anyway, he was so attentive when I arrived – showed me the room, provided great tips where to have the best burger and dinner… Emily, you couldn’t resist his yummy pancakes he served for breakfast in the garden…” Ruth closed her eyes with delight.

“Wow! And I …,” Emily exclaimed. She was in her element – when someone began talking about a holiday, she always had a lot to say. She repeated at least four times “wow” while talking about her stay on the Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson.
“….BBQ for guests in cottonwoods. It was so romantic”, Emily continued, “we were sitting at community tables enjoying the sunset, listening to live music, eating fresh cornbread, steak …”

Smiling with a slight impression of fun Sam said to Emily: “This makes me very hungry. What I still don’t understand is why people talk so much about hotel food.“

“Well, hotel food is what people remember and what makes them emotional. When you say that hotel food is outstanding, you praise people who cook and serve it…” Ruth said in a confused tone and continued talking about one of her favorite hotels, Don CeSar in Florida, where she always found relaxing retreat. “The hotel staff is very friendly and creates a relaxing, warm, and very welcoming atmosphere. This is exactly what a guest wants. Healthy breakfast dishes, fitness room, walk on the beach, and hospitality make me feel like a queen there."
  
Sam wanted to say: “Maybe enough small talk, girls, “ but preferred to say nothing.

Peter, team member, who was also in the office, had realized Ruth’s maneuver – she wanted Sam to look at things through his customers’ eyes. Telling him this directly wouldn’t work.
“Excellent customer service is what makes guests or customers happy. On the other hand, unfriendly service makes customers feel disappointed. I wonder if you teach someone to be friendly,” he said with a smile.

“Exactly! Experience is not always positive. I remember one hotel that was so terrible,” Sam said with a note of triumph in his voice.

Peter reacted quickly: “Sam, you are not writing a negative review on TripAdvisor. Don’t try to play a role of an advocate. Be positive.” Peter’s words made Emily and Ruth laugh.

Sam shrugged and said: “Ghost riders in the sky … Emily, did you learn any cowboy dance on the ranch?”
Emily flushed: “Sure! And also saw a rattlesnake presentation.”
Everybody laughed.   
  
John, team leader, had enjoyed watching the exchange standing in the doorway. He didn’t want to interrupt his team members who were sharing their customer experiences. Indeed, we can learn a lot from the hospitality industry, he thought. “I think I am ready for steak”. That was all he said. 

Sam turned to John: “Before you go to lunch could you explain to me how I can appear friendly, make a strong impression, and keep a focus on sales at the same time. We need to sell our services and products, don’t we?”

“Are you kidding?” Emily grinned.

Sam waited. So did John. Sam’s question had put him on alert. Should I tell Sam that it takes time to find a customer and only some seconds to lose one? Should I explain to Sam how he should find the best way of treating his customer as an equal? Aloud he said: “It seems you’ve started an excellent topic for discussion. Let’s talk but not now. By the way, it’s lunch time.”  

As Sam left the office with everyone else for lunch the question still remained unanswered in his mind; “How to be friendly, make a strong impression, and keep a focus on sales and customer service at the same time?”

P.S. The names of the mentioned above hotels – The Inn at 410 (Gordon Watkins, owner), Tanque Verde Ranch, and Don CeSar – are real but the story is fiction. However, I am sharing my personal experience in these hotels and consider them to be the best practices of hospitality.    

How to be friendly, make a strong impression, and keep a focus on sales and customer service at the same time?

Please share your ideas and add your comment.

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