When your business has incredibly high levels of service excellence, how do you consistently sustain your standards? Of course, leading by example, having the right tools and resources and effective training play a huge part in this. In addition, how do you continue to add value, to exceed expectations? And once people are all focused on effective outcomes, how do you connect with the hearts of your clients, customers or guests? It is the "people factor" that I am emphasizing in this article.
Let's set the scene and put the "people factor" in context. The Oyster Box Hotel, Umhlanga Rocks, KwaZulu-Natal is an outstanding example of service excellence. Let me give you an example: for a special wedding anniversary this week we decided to spend three nights at our favourite hotel which definitely has a soul. I work for hours in the Clock Library – and in those beautiful surrounding, it certainly doesn’t feel like ‘work’. I enjoy a movie in their quaint cinema with popcorn and sweets ‘on tap’. We were allocated our favourite sea-facing room which provides one of the most magical views imaginable.
And of course, we had delicious meals, too. My favourite meal in the whole world is the breakfast served on the Terrace. Guests can ‘mix and match’ food to their heart’s content. Sometimes we are delighted to hear the gong ringing and when that happens everyone rushes outside to watch the dolphins in the surf. But here again, it is the warm and sincere hospitality imbued in every staff-member that makes this the ultimate in enjoyable experiences. The "people factor" make everything else possible.
I’d like to talk more about this concept of going beyond just making guests believe that they have made the right choice from a cognitive perspective. The people in the organisation add the warmth, the extra touches that bring the experience to life. And at the Oyster Box Hotel, Wayne Coetzer, the General Manager, one of the most characterful people I’m privileged to know, spreads his warmth and caring to the staff, guests and all those with whom he interacts. In fact, he is so ‘nice’ that I often forget his competence and ability to run this magnificent, many-faceted hotel. Of course he is ably supported by his deputy, Tyler Liebenberg, executive chef Kevin Joseph, personal assistant Barbie Hamilton and a team of dedicated managers and staff. But he is the one who has the uncanny ability to connect people with people, people with information and people with opportunities. Wayne, I salute you as one of the greatest networkers I’ve ever been privileged to meet.
Part of his networking this trip involved introducing me to the iconic ‘Mrs Tollman’ who happened to be staying at the Oyster Box Hotel. She and her husband, Stanley lead the Red Carnation Group internationally. What a privilege it was to meet her! I can sense how her warmth, caring and competence have a ripple effect, impacting on every aspect of their business enterprise. So here you see a very strong ‘heart’ connection. And, Mrs. Tollman you have captured my heart, too! (How I’d like to be more involved in your businesses!)
Let’s go back to Wayne: Another way in which he more than ‘went the extra mile’ was in organising number plates for Ed’s ‘Sportscar’. (This was the topic of a previous blog post). Innovators have the ability to firstly recognise (cognitive) and then optimise (action) opportunities. And Wayne is a master at finding creative, appropriate solutions. You should just see the number plates! We absolutely love them (heart)! So the outcome is effective because head and heart are aligned and this provides the energy for appropriate action! It wasn’t just a case of ‘here are some number plates’ and we would truly have been impressed and grateful at that point. But part of the process involved the great kindness and consideration with which Jonathan Olsen, Maintenance Engineer orchestrated the fitting of the number plates to ‘Sportscar’. Thank you, Jonathan!
Please look carefully at the wording of the number plates. These have been great for starting conversations both while Ed proudly tootled around the Oyster Box Hotel and also when he is out in one of the many shopping malls he frequents. So that is generating further action and connection, too.
So, there is a huge ripple effect spreading outward from the essence of a true spirit of service, whether it be from the customer service strategy in place, the effectiveness of the leadership or the passion for the quality of service that everyone involved in the Oyster Box Hotel seem to possess.
Readers, in aiming at service excellence, observe how cognitively your internal and external customers are viewing your service and products. But we also need the ‘heart’ connection and you and your teams are the ones who should build those relationships. Capture the hearts of your staff, clients, customers, guests, patients, members and the impact and ripple effect will be huge if you ‘take action’ in an appropriate and timely manner.
For more information on Sustainable Customer Service Strategy, Customer Service training or Executive Coaching, please contact Brenda on firstname.lastname@example.org or +27 82 4993311.