Sunday, July 25, 2010

In Search of Service – The Rule of 10 & 5

People are always trying to overcomplicate service, and the end result is often that staff are so confused about the 10 or more “minimum standards” that they are supposed to be using at every guest interaction that their service seems rehearsed.
For example, I used to love it when an employee responded to a guest inquiry with an “it’s my pleasure.” And I could be wrong, but I believe that Ritz Carlton were the first to use it as a standard response for their team members.
Now, everyone is saying it, at most every Hotel company, so you have to ask yourself, is it really their pleasure? Of course not, and as a result of its over-use, it no longer has much of an impact on me at all, except when I can tell it is voiced by someone who truly embodies the service culture that we all strive to create.
I would like to see more companies focus on the basics, first, and do them well, CONSISTENTLY.
Take the 10 and 5 rule, remember that one?
When a guest comes within ten (10) feet of a team member(s), the team member(s) should cease their conversation to acknowledge the approaching guest by making eye contact. At approximately five (5) feet team members should acknowledge the guest(s) with a warm greeting, whenever appropriate.
When is the last time a Hotel company spent any time on this during their new team members’ orientation?
I don’t know about you, but at the end of the day, I still want to feel welcome when I stay at a Hotel, and valued as a customer, not looked down upon by staff members who appear disgruntled by the fact that you have interrupted their discussion of what they did on their days off, to ask for their assistance or directions.
A Hotel is supposed to be a home away from home, an oasis, in the middle of the concrete jungle.
In my home, I make people feel welcome, I acknowledge them when they enter a room, I approach them, rather than waiting to be approached, I use their name, and I let them know that I appreciate them coming to visit.
Isn’t that what it’s all about?
Isn’t that what makes people want to come back, again and again?
Nobody sits around their dining room table talking about how much they want to go back and visit their surly Uncle Frank.
It’s all about the basics, do those well, and then you can dazzle me with all of your other special attributes designed to make me want to stay at your Hotel, but if I don’t feel welcome, I won’t be back. 
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  1. So true, I did not know that it was standard for staff to say that.

  2. That's a great post. I enjoyed hearing the 10 and 5 principle. What an interesting concept...and so important! I would think this should be standard policy in any company that is service oriented.

  3. I've been a customer service professional for the City of Los Angeles for ten years, and I am happy to say that I agree with what you say completely. I treat customers like they are my welcome friends, and I tailor my customer service approach along those same lines. It never fails to calm a customer who might be facing fines in the tens of thousands of dollars, along with even higher permit and construction costs, in their attempts to resolve their problems with the Dept. of Building and Safety. Occasionally I might throw in a little joke to lighten things up for them. One elderly woman, a very colorful and lively character at age 91, came in to request copies of historical building permits for the guest house where her 60-year-old son lived alone. The permits I researched and printed out, showed that the last permitted use for the guest house, was a chicken house, not uncommon for the Van Nuys Blvd. area, which was lined with residences and their respective chicken houses in the 1920's. When I informed her of this, her eyebrows shot up in surprise. I explained to her that, if the current construction that converted it to a guest house, was up to the code of the time in which it was done, then she would simply need to submit plans and obtain a permit and then get an inspector to issue a certificate of occupancy. She remarked that her son had been living in the guest house for over 30 years. I nodded and said, 'you've got a fox in the hen house." She stamped her walking cane on the floor, threw her head back and laughed so loudly, that every head turned in the large public room. "You made my entire day," she said. "I'll be sure to tell my son about the very positive experience I've had today with the personnel at the Department of Building and Safety. You see, he was very concerned for me, as he has had nothing but unpleasant experiences in this office in the past!" I said, "It's very much a pleasure to be of service, Ma'am," and I truly meant every word.