Here’s a fascinating dichotomy:
The management structure in most hotels is very hierarchical. The org chart pyramid starts at the top with the owner, then the General Manager, then the department directors (Food & Beverage, Housekeeping, Grounds Keeping, Operations, Administration, etc.), then the supervisors, and so on. At the base of the pyramid, both in salary and status, are the hands-on people – the valet parkers, the housekeepers, the wait staff, etc.
What’s most odd about the business is that the people on the top of the pyramid – the people who earn the most and control the most – are the ones who have the least contact with the hotel’s customers. At the same time, the people on the bottom of the pyramid – those who earn the least money and control very little – enjoy the most face time with their customers.
Think about it. When you stay at a hotel you don’t ever meet the owner and you don’t often meet the General Manager or the department heads. However, you speak to the hotel’s valet parkers, room attendants, bartenders, and waiters every single day.
But it gets even stranger. Because while the owners and managers and department heads attend marketing strategy meetings and meet with the hotel’s ad agencies and understand the property’s brand message, the workers at the bottom of the pyramid never do. So even though they are the ones most likely to be living the hotel’s brand on a day-to-day and hand-in-hand basis with the hotel’s customers, it’s very likely that those workers don’t know what the hotel stands for.
In the case of large hotel chains, you’re talking about companies that spend tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars on brand building. But these very same companies don’t always spend the significantly smaller amounts of money it takes to reinforce their brand message exactly where it matters.
Before you laugh at this silly situation, think about your business. Sure, you spend time, money, and effort creating your branding messages and distributing them to your customers and potential customers.
But do you take any time to let your employees know what it is they’re actually selling?
If you questioned each of the people in your business about who your company is and what it does, could they answer? More importantly, would they answer with a singular response that not only well represented your firm but was clearly positioned to show your customers why you matter to them?
When it comes to great customer service, knowing about your company just isn’t enough. Instead, it’s critical that everyone in your organization understands how they matter in the lives of your consumers and your potential consumers. It’s critical that everyone understands how to make it All About Them.
My hotel clients understand how important this is and periodically plan training days where we make sure our front line – the folks who interface with our clients – know exactly what it is they’re selling.
Yes, you are right! And, no, I didn’t laugh.
You are dead on the nail-head. Those who interface the most are so often trained the least — at least in the ways that really matter when it comes to promoting — and representing — your brand.
Good job, Bruce — as usual!
PS ~ I miss the old brand with your name not-so-hidden in the title! I’ve known you for years, and it was the only way I could remember how to consistently spell your name correctly!
PPS ~ I love your striking white on black. For years I’ve told my website guys that, but, well… (sigh)
Agreed Bruce. We don’t have to be undercover bosses wearing wigs and mustaches to ask all our employees what they think and imbue them with our messages and values. Asking and listening goes a long way. We need more of that in every aspect of our lives.
Another great post. Ironically, have had similar experiences just in the last few days that emphasize your point, including today at the grocery store where they were advertising Bartlett pears. The guy in the produce department of this big chain said they had been discontinued. Or, how about the new breakfast restaurant who sent out a direct mail coupon that expired before the restaurant even opened. Or the leak detection company that says on their music on hold that they find any leak so you don’t have to dig. And, the employee says he doesn’t know why they say that because we can only find leaks in pipes.