During August I’ve been doing some work in Glasgow, and staying in the Citizen M hotel. Their staff are called ambassadors and the customer service is way beyond the call of duty. Of course, I was curious about what prompted the level of friendliness and helpfulness they demonstrated, and asked the questions.
So, the answers were consistent, and showed that it’s not hard! Firstly, they are recruited as ambassadors, which means that their job is to make guests feel welcome and looked after, rather than do reception, or bar work, or any other specific role. They are selected for their personal qualities of a positive attitude, a friendly disposition, being prepared to help each other out and work as a real team, and flexibility in the roles they play depending on what’s needed to serve the guests.
They are led by example, with management demonstrating those qualities with guests and with their team, encouraging the team to give of their best, and trusting them to take the small actions that can make such a difference to the guests at their own discretion.
And it is delightful to be in a hotel where all the staff greet you, respond positively to any queries or requests, and enjoy their work.
Two particular aspects stand out for me: the way their role is defined and the way the team is managed.
The role is defined as caring for their customers. It is not implicit in the role; it is explicitly what is important. So they don’t just check in the guests when they arrive, they greet the guests and help them to check in if that is what the customers want. They don’t just serve drinks, they assess how that person asking for a drink is, and respond with conversation, speed, whatever feels right for that person. Their first thought is for the customer, not just getting the transaction with the customer done.
And the manager is not someone in a back office who appears when there is a problem. They are out there helping out when it’s required, and demonstrating the behaviours they want to inculcate. They notice and overtly value the customer service their team gives, and encourage them to take the initiative.
I saw a lovely example of this one evening. There was a big event on downstairs, and a couple of ambassadors who were in the bar area upstairs came down and told the manager that they were quite quiet up there, so they’d agreed that two of them would come down and help out those who were looking after the event. They could have just taken advantage of the quiet time, and the manager could have told them that he had enough staff in the event. Instead he said, ‘Great idea! Thank you’ and they took an extra dose of positive energy into the event space.
Everyone’s a winner with this approach to customer service. The customers are happy and want to go back. The staff are happy in their work because they feel valued for what they do and trusted to do a good job. The organisation is happy because happy customers and staff means more business.
Wouldn’t it make sense to apply these principles whenever we are serving customers?