If you have a standard policy that requires your employees to say “How was your stay?” or “How was the food?” or “How was my service” then you need to read this!!!    Unless . . . .

Unless your employees are empowered to do something about the response. Unless they have been given the authority to deal with any and every conceivable answer they may receive. 

If you haven’t given your employees the responsibility to take care of the customer, and if you haven’t given them the proper training, tools, and resources, then creating policies is a waste of time.  In fact, you are doing more harm than good.  

Here is an example of why arming employees with foolish wording is not in the best interest of your customers or your company’s profitability.  A year or so ago, I was in a hotel somewhere.  The stay began okay.  Nothing outstanding.  Just an ordinary stay at an ordinary hotel.  (Of course, “ordinary” is unacceptable, but that’s another story for a different article!).  

Then, little things began to go wrong, and they snowballed.  By bed time, I was rather irritated.  Nothing terribly wrong had occurred, but plenty of little things had gone awry.  

In the morning, I had for the most part forgotten my trials of the evening before.  I cheerfully faced a new day and headed to the front desk to check out.  I was greeted.  No, that’s definitely not the appropriate term.  Let me try, again.  The person behind the counter spoke to me.  She asked, “How was your stay?”  

Well, this query caused me to reflect upon my recent experiences.  It made me remember all the annoyances I had forgotten.  With my memory thus jogged, I sighed deeply and replied, “Well, not very good.”  

While waiting for her response, I took a breath, preparing to tell her about the entire list of things that had gone wrong.  Instead of the anticipated inquiry, she responded in a complete monotone (without even so much as glancing up at me), “I’m sorry.”  There was a thirty second pause.  Then, she handed me my paper work.  “Please sign here.”  She spoke not another word to me.

Do you handle customer service issues by creating policies and procedures that you expect employees to follow like robots?  Is your staff required to say or do certain things without being given any authority to act on customers’ responses?  Do you have policies that actually make customers mad, instead of helping them?

These are tough questions.  Spend some time thinking about the answers, as you look around your business, hotel, or restaurant. 

Make sure any customer service initiative you undertake consists of more than handing your staff as required “to do” list.  True customer satisfaction begins and ends with employees who are empowered to make decisions and who are given the authority to serve customers.


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