The Essence of Customer Service is to Inform and Inspire

The Essence of Customer Service is to Inform and Inspire

By Arman Sadeghi, CEO and Founder, Titanium Success

The easiest way for hotel executives to succeed is through service - to their staff and guests. For if an executive cannot inspire the former, and then he will not be able to honor the needs and demands of the latter. Sometimes it takes an outsider to speak to this community - to address the managers and workers of a hotel - so this group can move forward together. Sometimes it takes a voice of independence to deliver a message of value, which is in fact a summons to strengthen the values of a hotel or a resort: To remind employees of the history of an institution, the heritage of a property and the loyalty of her patrons.

When I have the chance to speak to such a gathering, I try to have a conversation with these people. I have no monologue to rehearse, no soliloquy to recite, no maxims to record. I come to listen, not lecture; I use the microphone as a tool, not a truncheon. I talk about service because that is the one thing every hotelier can offer, that is the one thing every hotelier must provide.

For the hotel executive without a big marketing department or for the professional running a boutique property without the many features of a nearby competitor, the great equalizer is - and will always be - service. f you exceed a guest's expectations, if you make attentiveness a priority and establish a precedent for discretion, if you stand ready to accommodate a traveler's wants and know how to take a step back to ensure the privacy of each visitor, then you will develop a reputation for - your staff will enjoy acclaim for their commitment to - excellent service. While this point may seem obvious, it is too often the casualty of other projects and misguided agendas.

For example: A hotel may buy an expensive brand of software, something to automate reservations and select candidates for certain upgrades and amenities, or an executive may exhaust his budget on advertising and promotions, while neglecting to write - never bothering to produce - a statement of principles. That is, a hotel executive must clarify what things are indispensable to the success of his business. Beware the hotelier who does not put service at the top of this list. Avoid the individual who thinks service is a luxury, not a necessity.

Strike that: Before abandoning that person, make a first - or final - appeal to reason. Explain the rewards of superb customer service. Describe the dividends a hotel receives because of its investment in customer service. Detail the reaction, from present and potential patrons, when they get - or when they hear about - a property's bespoke brand of customer service. Remember, too, that achieving this goal does not involve mastering technology or studying some arcane system. Everything centers on training: Showing workers what to do and what to say, as well as showing them what not to do and say.

This constant pursuit of perfection requires daily practice. The key to doing this job well is to make the prose of practice invisible to the poetry of an employee's performance, so to speak. Just as a musician does not stop playing if he misses a chord or skips a beat, a hotel worker must make a mental note of an error without disrupting his duties to a guest. That is why, and I write these words from experience, a hotel executive should invite an independent adviser - a messenger with a mission - who can be an advocate for guests and an agent of change.

In practical terms, that means being able to converse in - and then, becoming a fluent speaker of - the language of service. For it is just that: A method of communication, with its own vernacular, customs and dialects; a vocabulary of unspoken words, including comments through gestures and the body's expression of everything from respect and admiration to delight and decorum. To modify the lyrics of George and Ira Gershwin, it ranges from the way a bellman tips his hat to the manner by which he pours a guest's tea, from the way a smile just beams to the memory of all that - it is what they cannot, and would not, take away from a guest. And yet, the question remains, Can service trump what a hotel does not have? In a word: Yes.

Even if a hotel has a world-class spa, even if it has a five-star chef, even it has rooms fit for royalty, even if it has spectacular views, even if it has fitness trainers and equipment that rivals or surpasses that of the most exclusive gym, even if it has immaculate grounds and manicured gardens - even if it has the best of everything, none of it is worth anything without service that is as supreme as it is sincere. Put another way, if the workers do not believe it - if there is no doubt the employees do not support it - then there is no way they will provide it.

How, then, does a hotel executive create a culture of service? The answer rests with that executive's visual display of solidarity. He must prove, in words and deeds, that he is one of them; that he is not a boss, but a brother - in spirit and action - on behalf of a brotherhood of equals.

Organizations rise or fall based on the confidence of their respective members. Hotels are not immune from this law - if anything; they prove the truth of this rule - because hotels have very recognizable personalities. A hotel reflects the ideals and aspirations, as well as the worries and concerns of management and labor, of guests and travelers, of visitors and vendors. It is a hotel executive's job to assuage the anxieties of those who work for or frequent his business. The only way to do that, and to do it well, is by treating this position as more than a title or an office. A hotelier must be in, and of, the property he represents.

This notion of the hotel-executive-as-a-stakeholder has universal appeal. It confirms the sincerity of that individual's plan for the betterment of all. It reveals the depth of his actions, transcending the force of his promises or the intensity of his pledges to help a hotel thrive. Therein lies the purpose of great customer service: To serve, in the broadest sense of that concept, where anything others deem optional should be - indeed, it must be - obligatory. To serve, without hesitancy or hubris, so a worker may defer to - and fulfill the requests from - a guest. To serve, without complacency or conflict, so a hotel may exude warmth and hospitality.

I teach these virtues, and I have the pleasure to convey these truths to people of virtue, so others can experience the benefits of superb customer service. With the freedom to review each situation on its own terms, and with the liberty to speak truth to power, I stress the value of customer service because I expect nothing less.

As a traveler, I want service that is inviting and friendly. I want service that is gracious and generous. I want service that is cordial - more than cordial, in fact - and not without its share of creativity. I want service that treats me like a friend, not stranger in search of a vacancy at some inn. Leave conformity elsewhere, because personalized service is impossible without individual personalities - colorful and vibrant men and women - whose enthusiasm infuses a hotel's identity.

These offerings may emerge slowly, which does not mean they will not happen. Patience is what separates the successful hotel executive from his impulsive counterpart. For only patience - the willingness to repeatedly refine the process of customer service - is what will transform an otherwise ordinary property into an extraordinary destination. Patience is at the heart of service, for colleagues and customers alike.

Having an expert address this subject is cause for celebration. It underscores a hotel executive's eagerness to highlight customer service. It makes the topic a matter of urgency, that this is not something a hotelier should delay or deny. It puts everyone on notice that change is afoot, that this change is for the better. With excellent service comes praise - and plenty of it - from vacationers, couples, families and business travelers. That same service elicits critical and commercial acclaim, distinguishing a hotel from its many competitors.

Hotel executives need to dedicate themselves to this theme. They need to issue an oath - to themselves, for the good of their respective duties and the satisfaction of their individual workers - that customer service will always come first. The evidence of this effort will be too substantial to ignore, and too profitable to dismiss. Let us make customer service the priority it must be. Let us ensure customer service is the hallmark of success. Let us go about achieving this goal with energy and excitement. The beneficiaries will be too many to count, and the benefits will be too many to catalog. That is the ultimate reward of customer service.

Mr. Arman Sadeghi is the founder and CEO of Titanium Success. Voted as one of the best keynote speakers in 2016, Arman Sadeghi is an entrepreneur, neuroscientist, author and business coach. He is passionate about helping people achieve success. The founder of over a dozen companies, Mr. Sadeghi also coaches some of the top business executives in the United States. His approach to leadership – innovative by design, and effective in its consistency of results – is a mainstay for the hospitality industry. He works with hotel executives and staff, customizing his presentations to reflect the respective needs of his audience. Mr. Sadeghi can be contacted at 844-884-8264 or Please visit for more information.