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Customer Service Through Founding and Guiding Principles

How does a hotel chain with over 3800 hotels in 74 countries provide unparalleled customer service? GovLoop and Oracle held an event, The Changing Face of Customer Service in Government, where attendees heard about how J.W. Marriott views customer service. It starts with a founding principle: If we take care of our associates (employees), they will take care of our guests, and our guests will return.

Passion is the most important aspect to providing customer service. Erick Speight, Senior Sales Executive for Marriott, mentions that “passion is in everything we do, passion is infectious – this passion is called customer service.” When J.W. Marriott was starting what would become one of the leading hotel chains in the world he knew the one aspect that would make his company succeed is that the associates are the key to everything that is done in the hotel. It’s often easy for a company or agency to to say “we do customer service” but customer service can mean a number of different things.

How does Marriott go about making sure they have the personnel who can provide excellent customer service that they demand? First, extra emphasis is placed upon hiring the right people. You can teach people how to sell a hotel or to teach people how to check in, but you cannot teach a new personality.

Additionally, there are two guiding principles that the associates are trained on which help to provide continuing great customer service.

  1. 15/5 rule: When a guest is within 15 feet their presence should be acknowledged through some means whether a smile or head nod. Similarly, when a guest is within 5 feet they should be greeted in an appropriate manner whether that be a “hello”, “good morning”, or “good evening.”
  2. L.E.A.R.N.: L – listen to the customer and find out their needs. E – empathize with a customer so they know you are listening and being empathetic. A – apologize if something goes wrong so that the customer knows you are listening, you empathize, and that you’re truly sorry about a problem. R – react to fix the issue. N – notify everyone on the issue so that it doesn’t happen again.

As you can see this acronym transcends the hotel industry and can be applied to numerous organizations and public sector agencies. By not only implementing some founding and continual guiding principles the Marriott brand has established a culture of excellent customer service and a spirit to serve attitude that shows throughout the organization.

Does your agency have any similar guiding principles that are at the forefront of all employee actions? How do you make sure that customers are being served in a manner that is appropriate and timely?

Oracle offers an optimized and fully integrated stack of business hardware and software systems that helps organizations overcome complexity and unleash innovation.. Check out their Optimize with Oracle group on GovLoop.

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Rod Gallant

Love the Marriott brand, always disappointed when I have to travel to a city where they don’t have a hotel. Employees always go out of there way to enhance the guest experience.

I think too many organizations forget the simple principle that a happy employees is a productive employee who will go over and above to enhance your brand and your customer experience.