PRIDE IN SERVICE: WHEN THE GOING’S GOOD
By Peter Berk
Whether you’re an executive traveler or just a vacationer longing to get as far away as possible from the rigors of executive life, perhaps the most desirable commodity on your trip will be quality service. Wherever you go, and however you get there, there’s no question that your voyage can be either a constant pleasure or a nagging headache based in great part on the quality of service you receive every step of the way.
As more and more technological goodies are afforded business travelers every day – faxes, phones, Internet travel arrangements and the like – the fate of your travel experience may still in all ultimately rest in decidedly human hands. Whether you’re hopping around the world or jaunting to the next state, you will be most definitely and repeatedly be counting on the kindness of strangers to make your journey a positive one.
The measure of good service, regardless of whether it comes in the form of a flight attendant, hotel concierge, taxi or limo driver, restaurant host, meeting planner, travel agent or any of the other myriad people who will help you get where you’re going, do what you’re doing and get home when you’re done, can generally be summed up in one word: pride.
Just consider the profound difference between service as rendered by a true professional who cares about, anticipates and meets your needs, and service as rendered by an indifferent, impatient, intolerable amateur who acts as though doing their job is not only a tremendous interruption of their time, but a great favor to you – the customer!
We’ve all been through the familiar ordeal or bumping up against incompetence. Several manifestations on a business or pleasure trip include:
* Incredibly long check-in lines at the airport. You know the kind: eighty-two people waiting for a plane that’s minutes from taxiing down the runway, all being served by one airline rep who, naturally, is on the phone.
* Baggage handlers who regard your luggage as so many Tonka toys to be tossed about, stepped on and sent who-knows-where.
* Airport food servers who seem to have graduated cum laude from the General Patton school of charm.
* Waiters or waitresses who move at a snail’s pace, forget that you exist, confuse orders and seem to take it personally when you have the nerve to mention that your fries are cold.
* Hotel desk clerks who take 20 minutes to locate your reservation because they’ve mis-spelled your name in the computer.
* Drivers who take you from Kennedy to Wall Street via Syracuse.
There are countless other examples, of course. Unfortunately, it appears, pride is a difficult feeling for many people to acquire in their work environment, sometimes because they are doing work they would rather not be doing, but just as often because the old-fashioned concepts of service are simply not part of everyone’s professional mindset these days.
For the business traveler who is trying to get the job done in the most efficient and trouble-free manner possible, as well as for the pleasure traveler who is yearning to be pampered while on vacation, the need for – and right to – quality service is greater than ever. In today’s fast-paced, over-priced world, we just don’t have the time or money to incur delays and debts as a result of poor service. We require and deserve attention by people who:
* Know their job thoroughly and know where to direct you for related expertise if their particular job doesn’t precisely match your particular need (i.e., how often have you asked a simple question of someone while traveling – such as “do you have any affiliated hotels in Paris?” – only to be greeted by a look that is as blank as a newly-painted wall?). No one individual can know everything, of course, but what a difference it makes when a person who doesn’t have the answer you need at least knows how to get it for you or steer you to someone else who can be of assistance.
* View their job from YOUR point of view, harking back to the golden rule of doing unto others… In other words, the best service people in the world – whether concierges in fine hotels or motel operators along Route 66, whether expert chefs at top restaurants or open pit cooks at Hank’s Barbecue, whether executive limo drivers or city cab drivers, and whether airline attendants working first class or peanut salespersons working the ball game – all thrive by picturing themselves in your position. Only by thinking in terms of the customer can these people, and virtually anyone in business, expect to do the job well and stand out from the competition.
* Most of all: take pride in what they do so as to go that extra step to ensure your satisfaction. After all, without you, their job wouldn’t exist in the first place.
Pride in service and quality service aren’t new concepts or difficult ones to achieve. If we can all reflect for a moment on what we do, how we do it and whom we’re doing it for, surely our business lives – and our lives in general – can only improve.