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    Customer Service Viewpoints Forum Highlights
    CHIC Hospitality Consulting Services

    Highlights from previous discussions.  List yourself here to be advised of the new location of our unique Customer Service Viewpoints Forum:

    "  Before organizing the services you wish to offer and launching your advertising campaign, you must first clearly define the quality and level of service you can and will provide, making sure you can "deliver"  "


    In the Easytraining Insights newsletter of yesterday, I quote the owner of Restaurante Fellini in Brazil, who offers great value to his customers and to his employees. No wonder his business is booming. The main point of the Newsletter was about Customer Service as being composed of three important elements:

    (a) Respect
    (b) Value
    (c) A Human Approach

    Restaurante Fellini in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    --------------------------------------------- (When you click on "camera" you are taken to their virtual tour at

    The owner of Restaurante Fellini has an integrative human approach in the management of his operation. He considers Customer and Employee needs and expectations, extends recognition, incentives and rewards to both parties, based on the principle: Treat your employees right and they will treat your customers right. With his permission, I am quoting a short description of what his management and business style:   


    The following is from a forum participant who allowed us to quote him:

    " I will list some of the things that we do which makes us different:

    - We don't charge unhappy customers; if you don't like it, you don't pay. We respect word of mouth.

    - Normally we have lines outside waiting for room. For these people, we serve outside soft drinks and draft beer with some appetizers for free, respecting our customer's patience to have business with us.

    - We do not give discounts or make promotions. Instead, when our "frequent customers" come to pay, we tell them that today they are our guest (you can imagine how thankful and happy they become). Yes, here in Restaurante Fellini there is a free meal !

    - Normally we give kids a dessert for free (you can imagine how happy parents get when someone pleases their kids).

    - We call (follow up) every customer who places food orders "to go" (normally on Christmas, New Year, and special dates and events). And for those who aren't happy, we send their money back , we apologize and send an invitation to come dine in the restaurant itself as our guests (free).

    - Every time a customer praises one of our employees, we give the employee US$ 5 in reward for the "great customer service" they extended .

    - We call our customers when we have in our buffet their favourite plates (we have a gastronomic buffet, which changes daily).

    - Customers who come to enjoy their birthday with us are our guests.

    - There are other benefits our employees receive. Our cashier got a 17-day tour of Europe, our night manager got a brand new car!, ours pasta chef got a 5 day-cruise, the person in charge of the office got a new home computer, our waiters got air tickets to visit where their family live (and more...) "


    " The role of HR is to ensure an efficient and effective work performance by company managers and employees so that company and business objectives are achieved.

    I often spoke with people who were in charge of human resources and/or training who admitted that they were never copied on customer feedback. They immediately responded: "This goes to our marketing department (or to our public relations department).  "

    How can one be attuned to company needs without being continuously in the know on how the company is performing, as seen and experienced by customers and the outer world? Such knowledge would even help in employee selection, evaluation, and reward. Moreover, such "live" feedback is the perfect basis on which to plan the necessary training programs.

    Recently, as a Customer, I had occasion to be very upset at three technology and communications companies because each of them overcharged me.

    One of them, after much aggravation and time loss, had to repay me around $130, the other, $60, and the third $10. All in the same month. Here we have to do with the mistakes made by the Accounting and Billing Departments. In each case, except for one, the girl in charge of the billing department argued, trying to justify their charges and wouldn't listen. Regardless of the quality of technical service one gets, when this "back of the house" department makes mistakes and the person stubbornly refuses to acknowledge the mistake, refuses to credit back your Visa so that management wouldn't ask questions, one gets a very bad impression of the company. Actually, one gets very irate until finally upper management has to deal with this billing overcharge.

    Most of you discussed "change management". Except for the phone company the mistakes were made due to change in ownership and management. Something else to keep in mind when companies change hands: not to give free rein to accounting clerks to make mistakes but be very careful in order not to irritate customers.

    The point of this posting is: Do HR and Training people make sure they are attuned to what's really happening in the company? Customer feedback and customer relations are not only for marketing and PR departments. These are vehicles to assess how the company and employees are performing and one has to be constantly up-to-date regarding this. Performance feedback should not originate only from the supervisors.  "


    It is worthwhile opening for discussion today's trends regarding customer service for air travellers.

    1) What do you think about some airlines now charging two seats for fat passengers? Is this justified? (do not forget that people sitting next to very fat people have a terrible time throughout the flight). What other alternatives would be more acceptable?

    2) Travellers usually take in good stride all the new inconveniences regarding safety measures. However, it seems that all the checking and waiting time they go through do not actually ensure their safety during flight (lots of loopholes across the board with regard to people easily accessing the special passes needed to enter restricted zones, gaining unsupervised access to the plane itself before people board, etc.). What should customers demand and what should they expect?

    3) Airline passengers are now expected to fight terrorism on board a flight. They and a stewardess did this with the shoe bomber. What reward should this airline give them? Can passengers allow themselves to sleep on long flights? Are the lights dimmed like before? Any ideas on how to keep people alert and willing to take action although they themselves have to go on board without any "weapons" (meaning anything with which one can strike, injure or incapacitate)

    4) Many airlines recently stopped paying commission to travel agents, thus removing a service convenience to travellers. Scandinavian Airlines took another stand last week. They announced a layered price structure: net cost of ticket, net cost of ticket + slight addition if booked through their web site, net cost + higher addition if booked through the phone (to cover manpower expenses) + net cost + still higher addition if booked through a travel agent. As far as I know, several airlines also began adding a cost if you want your actual ticket in hand (i.e. not only virtual reservation) to cover the cost of printing your ticket and delivering it (or keeping it by someone for pickup). It now became a "user fee service strategy". What do you think of this? If we apply the same principle to restaurants, customers would be told "x" dollars for a plate you pick up yourself; if you want a waiter to bring it to your table you will be charged "y" more dollars; if you want someone to actually take your order, explain it and help you choose, you will have additional charges..... and so forth and so forth.........

    What do you think of all this? Where are we headed?



    A participant asks:

    "Often we hear people complaint about this person or that person's ( service personnel )attitude is bad or ...........!

    "  My question is " Is attitude trainable?"
    (i.e. like in skills and knowledge) with regard to customer service, of course.   "

    Response from Moderator:

    "Training" is "education" and education mainly involves the sharing of knowledge and know-how. Sharing of knowledge in organizations also falls under "communications". When these go both ways they lead to motivation. All three together

    (a) training
    (b) communications
    (c) motivation

    affect attitude. "

    George Bartlett, Hospitality Consultant, responds:

    "  Although I am no expert in this area, it is a subject of which I am well read, tirelessly practiced and studied in, and have a passion for. Over my short 21 industry years, these learned beliefs have rarely failed me, in fact,I would contribute them the largest part of any successes I have had.

    "  Firstly, there is often confusion between attitude,behavior and values. Although I believe they are all related, it is extremely important to understand and recognize the differences of each. In my estimation and experience,most of what is termed as "attitude", is actually not- it is "behavior". Attitudes are very difficult to change because they are very reflective of a persons value systems- or what that person's make-up is(your true beliefs).Most experts state an individuals value systems are formed at a very young age, i.e., ages 3 to 8 or so, through your formative "upbringing" years. From this, a person's attitudes(disposition towards) form over time and what they are exposed to. Hence you see where I am headed with this...very difficult to change in a person. Not impossible, however very difficult and much time required.

    "  Now behavior on the other hand,(a persons conduct & actions),which may or may not be related to the above, is relatively easy to modify or change. And yes,it has to do with all of the areas Claire touched on above. It is related to standards, performance, orientation, measurement, evaluation, review, training, coaching,workplace environment,skill development, etc,etc.,and most important,reprimand & praise. Communication & leadership are key. This is not rocket science,but it can be deep, and tough to fully cover in a response. Bottom line...focus on conduct or behavior with great consistency, and over time desired attitude will evolve in most(it may take years). However, positive change in conduct will come quickly. Be fair, forgiving, respectful, caring , but absolutely firm.

    I suggest a good starting point would be to read "The One Minute Manager" by Ken Blanchard,(or the video). A bit outdated maybe,but a good easy read,and the principles are solid. They still work. With apologies for the long winded response,

    George   "


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