Customer Service and the Wilson School of Hospitality and Resort Management

By Taylor, Robert R. | Business Perspectives, Summer 2000 | Go to article overview

Customer Service and the Wilson School of Hospitality and Resort Management


Taylor, Robert R., Business Perspectives


Hospitality: It's More Than Just a Smile--It's a Business Skill

How many of the following have you seen or experienced in your travels?

* You pull up at what is supposed to be a first-class hotel, and nobody is there to help you with your bags.

* You walk up to a reservations counter, and the clerk continues to work at a computer or talk to another clerk while you are left to wait.

* The greeting (if you get one at all) is a mumbled, "Do you have a reservation?"

* If it is a convention hotel and you are there for a conference, you wait in line with 40 other people while two (three if you are lucky) check-in clerks try to handle the process.

* You get to your room only to find that the decor is from the 1970s, and it's clearly not due to an attempt to appear "retro." There's been no attempt at renovation for years.

* The TV remote or the TV itself does not work properly. When you call for help, the maintenance person has gone home for the day or shows up one hour later, after you've missed your favorite show.

* There is an inadequate supply of towels.

* The floor is dirty.

* There is at least one light bulb burned out.

* You go to a restaurant and wait 10 minutes to get a waiter.

* The food at a supposed world-class hotel tastes like cardboard.

* You fail to get your wake-up call.

* You put out a card for morning room service, and your breakfast shows up as you are about to leave for your meeting.

* You go to check out of your hotel in the morning, and the clerk barely looks at you, hands you your bill, asks if everything was OK, clearly doesn't want to hear your reply, and mumbles a half-hearted "thank you."

* Your bill shows an incorrect charge--hopefully in your favor.

Four of the above "inconveniences" happened to me recently at a regional four-star resort where I was presenting a week-long training seminar. All of the others have happened within the last few years, with some being more the norm than the exception. The common theme of all of these breakdowns is that they are all preventable occurrences resulting from a breach in one or more business processes in which the facility engages. Only one or two of the above can be attributed to a deficiency in what is typically thought of as "Customer Service Training," or "Smile Training" as some in the industry affectionately call it. Although the interpersonal skills taught in customer service training programs are very important, good customer service goes far beyond the warm greeting and eye contact that the reservations clerk provides the guest. It begins in the myriad of business systems that impact the establishment from the day it began as an idea in the mind of an entrepreneur, to the day a customer enters the door, t o the day a customer exits as either a satisfied marketing tool for the business or as a disgruntled naysayer.

Customer service has to be more than just "Smile Training." Many people equate personal interaction with customer service, while few recognize the complex business systems that go on behind the scenes and the processes that provide the context within which overall customer service is given. Without these processes, the smile from the clerk when a customer leaves would provide minimal recompense for a miserable stay the customer just experienced in a lodge. This article will provide an overview of some of those processes and will attempt to demonstrate how a degree from The Wilson School of Hospitality and Resort Management and The Fogelman College of Business and Economics prepares graduates to excel in providing customer service in the part of the business world called the hospitality industry.

This article will outline the actions required to provide excellent customer service, particularly in the hospitality industry. Most importantly, the article will show how excellent customer service provision requires the skills that will be provided by The University of Memphis' new Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Hospitality and Resort Management, a program housed within The Fogelman College of Business and Economics and The Wilson School of Hospitality and Resort Management. …

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