It all begins with a thought. Thoughts turn into words, and words turn into behaviors, and behaviors turn into habits. In fact, anything we consistently do will become a habit. Napoleon Hill wrote that “Thoughts are things, and powerful things at that”. It generally takes anywhere from 3-4 weeks of daily repetition to form a habit, but once it’s formed, it is very difficult to NOT do it. The mind doesn’t know if it’s a good or bad habit. Your mind just accepts whatever you feed it, and the habits ensue. To deliver a consistently exceptional service experience, there must be habits that are hardwired throughout your entire team.
A strong service culture is comprised of multiple people who have developed strong service habits. Is it the norm for everyone to escort rather than point directions? Or is it just a few team members who do it? Is it the norm for everyone to learn guest preferences…or anticipate needs…or follow through with resolving guest complaints? Or is it just a few team members?
Exceptional service cannot be dependent on whether a particular employee is working. I don’t know about you, but there are some places I only visit on certain days at certain time periods, because a particular person is working. That is the exact opposite of a strong service culture. No matter who is working, the service should be memorable. No matter what time of day it is, the service should be memorable. No matter if it’s a weekend or weekday, the service should be memorable. No matter if it’s busy or slow, the service should be memorable. Strong habits can supersede individual moods, and push everyone in a common direction.
Often times, people ask me about the first thing they should do to develop a team of people who deliver engaging service. The first thing I tell them is to make service the most important thing on the team. It cannot be equal to any other objective, and it certainly can’t be an item on a to-do list. Every process on your team has to be anchored in service. Basically, anyone should be able to look at ANY of your team members, and see that exceptional service is how the team measures its success. Furthermore, any new employee should be able to immediately tell from the interview that “this team is different from any other team that I’ve been a part of”.
Habits to embrace
Start your day by asking yourself, “how and who will I WOW today?” By asking yourself that question everyday, it will become a habit. After a while, you will begin assessing each day based on whether you impacted someone’s day in a memorable way. The person you WOW can be a guest, team mate, leader, vendor, family member or a complete stranger. It truly doesn’t matter who the person is. The key is to assume that each person has unconditional worthiness, and treat them accordingly.
Sign your work
There is something very significant about being mindful of your own strengths. Not just being aware of your strengths, but actually paying attention to your strengths while you are using them. So, if you are a natural smiler, be mindful of how you feel when you smile. Be mindful of how others feel when you smile. Deeply appreciate that natural ability, and you will notice how more amplified that strength will continuously become. Signing your work simply means to put your personal stamp on the experience you provide to others. Only you can do certain things the way you do them, because of your unique mix of strengths.
At least once a week, proactively thank a team member for something. It can be a peer, someone you report to, or someone who reports to you. Don’t just “thank them”, but truly go out of your way to find out what makes that person feel appreciated. Is it a hand-written note? A verbal affirmation? Inquiring about a personal hobby? Whatever it is, ensure that the recognition is meaningful and personalized to that individual. By developing the habit of encouraging each other, the team will inevitably respect and appreciate each other more. Each team member will better understand what it feels like to be engaged; therefore, they will be more eager to make their guests feel that way as well. The first step in serving your guests with excellence, is to serve each other with excellence.
It becomes much easier for everyone to develop, embrace and sustain service habits when each person understands the significance of their work environment. It’s not simply a place to work. Nor is it solely a place to ply your craft. The hotel ought to be thought of as an honorable place. A place rich with positive energy, and the ability to move people in a profound way. No one should ever be the same as a result of being in your hotel. The overall experience should exude a sense of hopefulness, tranquility and optimism that is unmatched anywhere else. It is a special place. A sacred place.
This is where healing takes place.
This is where caring takes place.
This is where the ultimate expression of hospitality takes place.
Everything I say and do should declare that “I see you…I honor you…and you have unconditional worthiness”.
Let there be no gossip.
Let there be no negativity.
Let us only lift each other up, as we lift up those we take care of.
Let us be grateful that there are people who entrust us with their well-being.
People who need us and depend us.
May we never take that for granted or grow complacent.
This ground is not sacred because of my degrees, or certifications, or expertise.
It is sacred because “caring” happens here. Healing happens here. Love happens here.
From this day forward, I will consistently care for my guests, care for my colleagues, and care for myself.
As long as I have breath, I will do everything I can to keep this ground sacred.
About the author
Dr. Bryan K. Williams is a keynote speaker, author, and consultant, who champions service excellence and organizational effectiveness. Bryan has spoken to hundreds of companies and trade organizations in over 20 industries. In addition to working with luxury hotels throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, he’s presented throughout Europe, Asia and Africa. He is the author of two books on service excellence, and was the Global Corporate Director of Training and Organizational Effectiveness for the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.
Bryan’s passion is to serve others so they may better serve the world.