Be A Specific Customer

To conclude my blog and relate back to the theme, we know the customer is not always right. But in order to exemplify great customer service, most business will stay away from ever telling a customer “no”, or blaming the customer for an issue. 

Being a customer, we can act professionally as well to get the results we want. For example, I work at the Subway by Target which has a drive through. Most of our complaints come from our drive through customers. It is almost as if we have to know exactly what they want without meeting the person. I had a customer tell me they want “a lot of extra dressing”. Two minutes later, this person came inside and demanded to know who made their sandwich. She came inside and yelled at me because I drenched her sandwich in mayo. I only thought I was giving her what she asked. As customers we have to be specific. Business to customer relationships are not those in which we know each other well. Sandwich makers at Subway can not be expected to know what “alot of extra dressing” means so we dress the sandwich in our terms of quantity.

I urge you guys when on the customer side of an interaction, be specific. And in this instance,  when a customer wants their sandwich made specifically to their standards, they should come inside. Coming inside the restaurant to make your order may take an extra minute, but it eliminates error because you are watching us make your sandwich. Be careful to what you ask for, because sometimes, it is the customers fault. 😉 

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Management Decisions

I am writing to those who may be managers or own a business. I want to urge you to have good communication within your staff; make sure no matter what level of emplyment a person has within the company, everyone should be on the same page with information.Most successful businesses, in my opinion, yield lower turn over rates. A turn over rate shows how quickly a business acquires new employees and loses them. I want to talk about why this happens. 

There will always be a small category of employees who can be deemed lazy or unfit for the job which results in termination or that employee quitting; but, because training is expensive for a company any successful business wants to try and avoid a high turn over rate. I believe that this can be solved within management.

When hiring an employee, always let them know what is expected of them. A new employee should be able to identify the type of management they will experience within the interviewing process. We can make sure this happens by having good communication. A good management team will have good communication because they want to have a successful business. To have a successful business, you must have happy employees.  

I am writing about this topic because I have currently quit my job and am now employed at Subway rather than Comfort Inn. I no longer wanted to work for a company who could not communicate properly and show appreciation to their staff. I did not want to leave the hotel. I learned a lot there and could have moved up in management, but they were only willing to give a dollar raise for a heavier load of responsibilities. I did not agree with this style of employee appreciation. These may be obvious traits a business should have, but most places I have worked for do not practice good communication and do not value their staff.  

I am writing to those who are managers and own businesses. I want to urge you to have good communication within your staff; make sure no matter what level of employment a person has within the company, make sure everyone is on the same page with information. Also, if an employee goes above and beyond for your company, make sure it is recognized. Being able to practice this will yield lower turn over ratios for companies, and will bring out the best in their employees. 

Quality > Time

Last week my car was due for an oil change. I found a coupon for AutoLab and decided to take my car there.

When I arrived to AutoLab the waiting area was clean and organized which made me feel that I could trust who was about to work on my car. I will never again use the outside appearance of an auto garage to judge the quality of their work. 

I waited the standard twenty minutes or so to have my oil changed. While the mechanics were completing the oil change, I also asked them to rotate my tires; big mistake. 

When leaving AutoLab, my car was not driving well. I heard a loud sound coming from the driver side tire area. Before I knew it, I was sitting in the middle of mission st. with no driver side tire. Whoever rotated my tires did not fasten the lug-nuts well enough and my wheel fell off. This caused frame damage to my car and it was not drivable. I immediately called AutoLab complaining I needed a tow track because my car fell apart as soon as I left their parking lot. 

I was displeased with the way AutoLab took care of the issue. I was not rude and pushy and I felt like if I had been maybe they would have taken the situation more seriously. Everyone should be treated equally. Yes, they have agreed to fix my car free of charge through Jim’s Body Shop, but the way they handled the situation was not right. No one ever owned up to the mistake they only apologized for my inconvenience.

After reading the chapter in our book about handling negative messages, I believe it is the customers right to  know what happened. Apologies are genuine ways to show someone that you are sorry for the mistake and it would have made a difference. Of course I appreciate that they fixed my car, but I was disappointed when they told me they could not loan me a car to use. This made me feel like they were not genuinely sorry. I believe it is their responsibility to give me a car to drive while they fix mine. If they are truly sorry for the inconvenience, they would be taking care of it. 

This is another example that proves if you are going to own a business, you need to genuinely care about your customers. Not only are customers the top reason businesses have income, but they rely on places to do honest work. I wish that all businesses in this country held a higher standard of quality and integrity because then problems such as these would never happen. 

Dealing With Roomates

This post will be different from the others. Over the weekend, I had to deal with issues at home. I live in an apartment with two guys and one other girl. As I analyzed my weekend, I realized the concepts of business ethics can stretch in to our personal lives as well. 

I am not a big drinker; I only drink on special occasions. I have lived with my roommates now for two years and we have never had any issues respecting each other. This weekend was different. I came home from work and the apartment was trashed and no one was home. I assumed they had gone to the bar. After work I like to relax and maybe watch t.v. This particular Saturday night I had gotten off work early and was excited to be able to relax at home. The fact that the apartment was trashed made it impossible. 

I expect at least a text or a phone call letting me know what I am walking in to.  A text such as, ” Hey we left the apartment a mess but we will clean it tomorrow”…would have sufficed. But, the apartment is still a mess and it is now Monday. 

When I approached my roommates about it they said they would clean up their mess Sunday, but again the apartment is still gross. Usually I would start the cleaning process myself, but not this time. Sometimes it can be disappointing, but actions like these help identify people. If they respected me, it would have been clean by now. It is important that no matter what aspect of life we apply this to, we respect everyone and think about others than just ourselves, especially in a shared living environment.

Chain of Command

I love my job. I do not love the company I work for. This makes it hard to go to work some days. Does anyone else experience this where they work? What can we do to change the things about our work place that we do not like? We have more power at work than some may believe. 

What I have learned in the last few months at work is that it is important to use the chain of command to get things done. It is also important to communicate to your co-workers what you are trying to have changed. For example, I went to the general manager of the hotel and made her aware that the front desk agents had too many duties during their shift. More specifically, the hotel wanted the front desk agents to be able to keep the lobby clean and do laundry during their shift. These two duties are nearly impossible when the phone lines are busy with reservations or in house guest requests. It is our job to put the guest first. 

When I went to the general manager, she told me it was not in the budget to hire another person to perform these duties. I made the suggestion of giving more hours to a housekeeper we already had on staff. These duties would be easy for a housekeeper to add in to their daily routine. She denied my suggestion due to the budget. 

A few weeks went by and I was becoming more frustrated at the front desk. I realized I was not providing the best customer service due to having to be in the back while folding laundry and cleaning the lobby every hour. I was not satisfied with my general managers answer so I contacted the Vice President of Operations. I sent him an email with my request and suggestion. Not a week later, the schedule was maneuvered to help the front desk in these areas. 

The general manager was frustrated that I did this, but now she and I are on good terms. I’ve learned that when you see fit, you need to take that extra step to do the right thing for the company. I believe it is characteristics like this that separate leaders from followers. Sometimes, we can not always accept the first answer we are given. 

Watching My Mouth At Work

It can be a daily struggle to always do the right thing. In the business world, it is more than important to lead by example, especially if you are in a management position. Recently at the hotel I work at, I was offered a promotion to be the front desk supervisor. I have had the last few days to think about how I need to act differently around my co-workers. 

I have always felt that I was a good worker, but when I began analyzing my every action at work, I realized I have a lot of room for improvement. At work, I had a bad habit of cussing when guests were not around. I would swear while having conversations in the back with other employees when it was not necessary. I don’t believe that swearing necessarily makes you a bad person, but it is unprofessional. When a manager swears in front of her co-workers I think it sends a bad message. I am now making improvements not to swear around any other employees. I think cutting out this small habit will help my employees take me more seriously and also have a higher level of respect for me.

I want everyone at work to feel as though we are all equal and we deserve the same amount of respect. But, I think it is especially important for supervisors and managers to lead by example so that actions such as swearing can be cut out permanently from the workplace. This is important too so that no mistake would be made in front of a guest. When we spend our money at a business, such as a hotel, we deserve a professional atmosphere. 

Completely Listening

The other day at work, I was slammed with telephone calls and guest requests. Everyone needed something. I was doing a good job handling the high call volume and guest requests in a timely manner, but I felt guilty after the UPS deliverer had left. He asked me a question and I responded with, “you too”. I felt stupid. I was so busy that I barely payed attention to him. I just assumed what he had said. It made me think that in the business world, no matter who you are interacting with, everyone deserves the same amount of communication and respect. 

I realized after this, I need to become a better listener. Tuning out distractions is difficult, but as I practice tuning myself in to the person in front of me and nothing else I am building more genuine relationships with people. As corny as it sounds, it reminded me to treat people how you want to be treated. Using this way of thinking will make the workplace a better environment as whole. 

Positive Feedback

A few weeks ago, I was promoted to front desk supervisor at the hotel I work at. When I was given the job, I took on new responsibilities. In addition to these responsibilities, my new manager also wanted me to work on some characteristics of our front desk staff. My first task was to rid the front desk of any “cliquiness”. Cliques are not fun and they make work more difficult for everyone, especially new employees who can not possibly have a well-formed opinion.

As a front desk agent, it is easy to make mistakes. My job requires that I be able to multi-task while still paying attention to detail. I have noticed that my co-workers take advantage of chances they get to exploit peoples’ mistakes. This is unnecessary at work nor is it the responsibility of employees to bad talk others. If you are exploiting someones mistake, I hope you yourself have never made one. I as a supervisor do not even have the right to do this because even I can make mistakes. We all make mistakes but the purpose of our job is to try our best not to by paying attention to detail.

If an employee is making a mistake, I believe constructive criticism is the first step in guiding them towards success. I have decided to sit down with each one of my front desk agents to help them with this problem. I thought the conflict through and decided a meeting would not be efficient or effective in this matter. A meeting could have possibly caused a fight between co-workers. It was not my intention to call one person out because the whole front desk staff seems to have this problem. At each meeting I gave the employees a positive and a negative to their current performance and each employee received the same spiel in accordance to our clique problem. I hope this will cure the negative words we have had talked behind each others back at work.

This was an awkward task my first week as supervisor but I am happy I had the opportunity to sit down with each one of my front desk agents. I learned more about them individually and was able to communicate how I felt about the situation. We are all now on the same page which will allow our team to grow positively!

The Disabled

Today at work, I had a guest who is disabled. He has been in a wheelchair since he was discharged from the army. It is very hard for me to determine how to treat disabled customers. Some want to be waited on and be given help through their whole stay while other disabled guests want to be independent and do things on their own. I think a portion of disabled guests feel that we are only helping because it is our job and we pity them. How do we handle these guests and make them feel equal to every other person that walks through the door? 

This is not an easy task and it takes some experience in the customer service field. What I have learned is that listening carefully to what they want helps. My job tests my listening skills every day. We must also pay attention to the nonverbal signs we receive from them and judge the mood that they are in. Today, he came to the front desk  in a bad mood because the room he was in did not accommodate him and his wheelchair. He could not fit in and out of the bathroom. At the hotel we do have handicap accessible rooms for this exact reason. It is my job to make sure the guest does not leave dissatisfied and I wanted to help him. It was not fair he was unable to use his whole room but pay the same rate as a person that could. 

After housekeeping had finished cleaning a handicap accessible room a previous guest had checked out of, I moved him in to the room. I realized all that took for him to be satisfied was an employee who would listen and not treat him like a situation out of our handbook. It is important to be genuine in every thing we do. I realize that we as people have bad days, we are only human. But, if we can be genuine in every act, it will show to each customer and create true guest satisfaction. 

Patience Tested

It has been almost two years since I started working at the Super 8 in Mt. Pleasat. I love my job. I have always loved being in an environment with constant change and new people. I want  to graduate with a Bachelors of Applied Art  in Commercial Recreation and a Minor in Professional Sales. As I read through chapter one of our text book, the material excited me. It may be dry to some, but I striving to effectively communicate at work every day can be a challenge. 

I was just recently promoted to front desk supervisor. This class will be very helpful for me. I want to share with all of you what I go through at work and how we can apply it to what we’re learning. This week my nonverbal skills were put to the test. 

At a hotel, there are numerous things that can go wrong for the guest. The reservation could have been made wrong, we may not have available what the guest was promised(rollaway,crib,etc.), or the worst case scenario, we can’t find their reservation and the hotel is sold out. But, all of these problems can be solved by effective communication skills and listening to the customer. This week on Wednesday night, I had a guest come to the front desk who’s name was not on my arrival list. I became frustrated with the guest quickly because he continued to inform me this was my fault and I had to fix it. The problem was out of my control. The hotel had zero rooms left for sale. The guest told me I had his credit card on file, and I had no form of payment on file for the guest. He argued we stole his credit card information, I was an incompetent employee and a liar. I was clenching my hands to the desk so I wouldn’t blurt out the phrase, “Sir, we really don’t need a person like you in here, you’re ruining my night, please leave”. 

The best advice I can give to all my fellow customer service employees is to smile and keep breathing. Approach conflict one step at a time. The last thing I wanted to do was make the guest feel like it was his fault even though it was. I kept a smile on my face and positive body language to help him feel at ease.