When I was 18 years old, I worked as a waiter in a five-star mansion high in the Lake District of England. Growing up in a poor, blue-collar family, I had never seen servers wearing white dinner jackets and white gloves, carrying silver trays and crystal goblets. I was in awe.
Of course I didn’t know much about customer service at that time either. I was hired because the management was impressed with my attitude. They knew they could teach me the service skills I needed if I already had a positive, service-minded attitude. And fortunately I did have that attitude. I cared deeply about people, about meeting their needs, about giving them a great experience, and about delivering excellence.
From there, my boss, Mrs. Celia Jackson, who you see in the photo, taught me all the finer points of delivering extraordinary service. In fact, in the picture which I took recently, Celia was in her 80’s and enjoying my book on “PIVOT: How One Turn In Attitude Can Lead To Success.”
Mrs. Jackson spent time with me … teaching me etiquette, the proper way to greet our guests, the proper placement of 12 different pieces of flatware for each guest, and how each course of the meal was to be served. In essence, she just didn’t tell me to go ahead and take care of our customers; she invested time in making sure I knew exactly how to do that.
Could the same thing be said about your company? I find too many service people have never been trained in customer service. Oh, their company may spend lots of dollars on commercials advertising their great service, but they never invest the time and money into training their people to deliver that great service. Somehow they must be hoping their employees watch the commercials and get the idea.
My tips for today? One, hire for attitude. It’s easier to buy it than build it. And two, train your people to deliver extraordinary service.