The importance of good service

I knew there was a good reason to go to Prague last weekend – aside from celebrating a big wedding anniversary with my beloved – and it being an excellent place to visit, as everyone told me beforehand.

Before leaving, we’d just had news of the massive Court fees increase, with only a few week’s notice.   Tempted though I was to vent some spleen on this score, we are where we are and even I am bored with the sound of my own pen on that subject. No, I have something far more interesting to talk about here – it’s something we all want but rarely receive in good old Blighty and my visit to Prague restored some lost faith!

Something we all want…

You might be thinking this has something to do with the huge numbers of highly-decorated churches, or the odd imposing castle, monastery, bridge, civic building or opera house. Yes, they made a very impressive statement about the vision, skills and commitment of many hundreds of people 500 years ago, but these weren’t what impressed me the most.

What really struck me was the attitude of service we found in the hotels, restaurants and taxis. Getting people to ‘serve’ customers well – consistently, reliably and intelligently – is extremely hard to achieve. How often does service ‘blow you away’ in the UK? In a taxi?  In a restaurant (especially when asking for something troublesome like a jug of water, or decaffeinated coffee) or hotel or store – these days. On some occasions it’s even hard to find someone to speak to!

I found myself asking – how does Linda, one of the hotel waitresses, remember without notes everything we tell her? How does she remember and action, the following day, our preferences for tea and coffee at breakfast before we even sit down at the table? It wasn’t just Linda, it was every staff member. The porter who greeted us upon arrival didn’t see me for 3 days, and yet, in passing me in the corridor, greeted me by name.

How do they do it?

OK, no doubt they have a sophisticated CRM system.  But that cannot prompt the porter in the corridor who is already talking to a colleague as he passes by. There is something in their desire, their intent, their delight in serving the customer. How is that achieved?

It must be something to do with excellent training?  For sure; but there’s more than that. What is it?

There’s got to be something deeply inspiring and motivating to keep your concentration and initiative consistently high.

What we need to learn from this

I figure that there must be a culture of respect for yourself, your colleagues and customers that perhaps we miss here in the UK. It’s all about how you yourself are treated and viewed by managers and colleagues. Do they respect me? Do I respect them? If we believe in each other, praise each other, trust each other in the nitty-gritty of daily life… it warms the heart and motivates.  If you’re not trusted, then you’ll lose that motivation, that determination to excel, that drive to go the extra mile.

I doubt Linda was paid a lot. But she clearly loved her job.  And we loved the pride and excellence she showed in her daily work. I found her attitude challenging and inspiring – and to complete the circle, this blog is now winging its way to the hotel manager.

Author: Charles Wilson,  Managing Director – Solicitor,  Lovetts plc