Want to boost customer service? Boost workplace respect first

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by S. CHRIS EDMONDS

Work cultures across various countries are not that different. Across the globe, people want to know what’s expected of them regarding performance and values. People want to know their efforts and accomplishments are appreciated and valued. People want to align with others in meaningful work that makes their communities better places to live. People want to be trusted and respected, daily.

What do you pay attention to in your hotel every day? If you’re like most hoteliers, you focus time and energy on your property’s performance – results, sales, and profits. Performance is certainly a vital metric. Exceeding budgeted nets allows you to invest in the business – and sleep better at night.

However, performance is not the only important metric great leaders pay attention to. The ability to create a purposeful, positive, productive work culture is the goal of every hotel owner and operator.

Great bosses do not focus exclusively on their organization’s performance. They make values – how people treat each other at work – as important as results.

The challenge today is that our workplaces – including hotel work environments – are not consistently purposeful, positive, or productive. TinyPulse’s 2017 annual global employee engagement report found that only 26 percent of employees feel strongly valued at work.

Gallup’s 2017 State of the Global Workplace report indicates that only 15 percent of employees are engaged at work. Of the 85 percent that are disengaged, 67 percent are not engaged and 18 percent are actively disengaged. What are the economic consequences of 85 percent of your employee population being disengaged? Approximately, $7 trillion in lost productivity around the globe.

SHRM’s 2017 job satisfaction and engagement survey found that 65 percent of employees believe that “respectful treatment of all employees at all levels” was a very important contributor to their job satisfaction. The problem is that only 38 percent of employees reported being “very satisfied” with respectful treatment in their workplaces.

Younger leaders and employees in the Millennial and Gen-Z generations want a positive, productive work experience. Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report indicates that 80 percent of executives rated the employee experience as either very important or important. And only 22 percent of those executives believe their companies were excellent at delivering that positive, productive work experience.

Your hotel’s work culture may not be as problematic as these studies indicate – but all owners and operators have opportunities to improve the quality of workplace relationships with team members. All employees – leaders and team members throughout your organization – deserve to be treated with trust and respect in every interaction.

Any interaction that leaves a leader or team member feeling dismissed, discounted, or demeaned erodes trust and respect. Ensuring that every person treats every other person consistently with trust and respect in every interaction is a tall order – but the benefits are remarkable. By creating that kind of vibrant, respectful, creative, and inspiring work culture, three things happen:

First, employee engagement goes up by 40 percent.
Second, customer service ratings go up by 40 percent.
Third, results and profits grow by 35 percent – all within 18 months of implementing culture refinement.

These benefits take time and happen chronologically. So, you may not see results grow immediately—why? Employee engagement is built upon trust and respect. Trust and respect doesn’t increase with one interaction. It can be eroded in one interaction (demeaning, dismissing, discounting of a peer’s efforts or accomplishments will do that, for example) – but it takes consistent, proactive kindness and care to boost trust and respect between people.

Customer service excellence doesn’t happen with one interaction. It takes consistent, proactive kindness and care to make customers feel valued, heard, and cared for. Disengaged employees will not serve customers kindly. Engaged employees willingly serve customers kindly. As trust and respect grows, engagement grows. As engagement grows, customer service grows. As customer service grows, results and profits grow.
Hotel owners and your stakeholders will find themselves to be pleased with a 35 percent growth in results and profits within two years.

WHERE TO START
How can you and your hotel’s leaders create a purposeful, positive, productive work culture? By crafting an organizational constitution and then aligning all plans, decisions, and actions to it. An organizational constitution clarifies and specifies three vitally important agreements:

1. Servant purpose. The “reason for being” besides making money or booking rooms or hosting five conferences this month. A servant purpose describes how you and your team improve the quality of life for customers, every day.

2. Values and behaviors. Making values as measurable as results requires observable, tangible, measurable behaviors. For example, if one of your desired organizational values is integrity, you can’t assume that everyone knows what that means. You must define integrity with measurable behaviors such as, “I do what I say I will do.”

3. Strategies and goals. Formalize overarching performance strategies and measurable goals ensure clarity of what your organization must accomplish this quarter and this year.

Defining your desired culture with an organizational constitution may take some time. However, crafting and announcing your organizational constitution is the easy part. The hard part is aligning all plans, decisions, and actions to these new expectations. Leaders must model the new servant purpose and valued behaviors, every minute. Only then will these new rules – their organizational constitution – be considered credible by employees and worthy of those employees embracing the new rules.

This approach can make trust and respect a common occurrence. It’s what happens today in world class organizations like WD-40 Company, Ritz Carlton, Starbucks, Assurance, Madwire, and more.
Don’t leave the quality of your work culture to chance. Finish the year of 2018 as your company’s year of “trust and respect.”

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