Teaching Service to Employees

Owners, general managers and department managers often assume that their employees possess the same high-level service guidelines as themselves. The truth is that most of our employees have no idea what our customer service standards are. Eval-uating your service standards, following these step-by-step suggestions, and having a passionate desire to improve the service at your facility are all you need to guide employees on their way to providing the exceptional service your members deserve.

Customer Service Task Force: Choose the top service providers from each department and explain the service goals that you are trying to attain. If they are in agreement and understand your service guidelines, invite them to become a member of your customer service task force. This team of service experts will be re-sponsible for revamping your facility's service standards.

Written Expectations: Develop your "staff service expectations," which will include your service mission, your vision, and the value of exceptional service. If you currently have a printed listing of your staff expectations and do not feel it necessary to change them, redo them anyway. Rework the sentences to make them seem new, and change the color of the paper. You cannot motivate your employees to change with the same, tired materials you have been using for years.

List obvious service items, but keep them short and understandable. Hand your new expectations to every employee. Make them as much a part of the uniform as the name tag. Throughout the day, ask your employees questions about the new expectations. Soon they will realize the importance of their position and of the services they perform.

The PASS Book: PASS (Problem, Ac-tion, and Situation Solution) books empower employees to solve member problems. Each employee should receive a 3x5 inch spiral notebook that will be used to log any concern brought to the individual employee by a member, the steps taken to resolve the concern, and, finally, how the member was notified of the resolution.

Service Re-interviews: Require every employee to meet with a member of the customer service task force for a 20 to 30 minute service interview. Deal specifically with service aspects of individual positions. The re-interview serves a dual purpose. It shows your staff the weight now being placed upon exceptional service, and the interview questions raise the meaning of good service to the forefront of your employee's consciousness. Do not let the employee off the hook by accepting "I don't know" for an answer. Lead employees through a scenario that will help them understand what you are expecting.

For some examples of what employees should be asked during this interview, refer to the box on the right, "Questions for the Customer Service Interview."

Club Awareness Training: This training will give every employee basic working knowledge of the different departments of the club. Do not include the "nuts and bolts" of the departments, (i.e., how to work the registers, etc.), but do give each employee the knowledge of whom to contact in the department to solve potential member problems. Show how a lapse in the service of one department affects the service provided in another.

Remember, anything worth doing usually takes some work. Make the process fun for your employees by raffling off prizes along the way. Give them a specific goal to achieve and reward them for their accomplishments. Improving the service provided at your facility takes time, but your staff, your members, and your business will all benefit from your efforts.


Questions for the Customer Service Interview

1. Can you tell me about a time when you received poor service and how that made you feel?

2. Can you tell me about a time that you received excellent service and how that made you feel?

3. What do you like least and most about being a customer contact person?

4. Can you tell me about a time when you went above and beyond the call of duty?

5. How do you stay enthusiastic when you are dealing with a customer?


Encouraging Service

To get exceptional service, reward employees who work hard to satisfy members. Here's how.

- Revamp your "employee of the month" award to make specific guidelines for service accomplishments.

- Develop an additional recognition program for individual service occurrences.

- Provide personal letters to employees who consistently provide outstanding service to your members with a copy to their employee file.

- If you currently do not have an extensive new employee orientation program, develop one. - REWARD AND RECOGNIZE.