Secrets of Service Success

© Holly Stiel

“Service is Technique plus Attitude,” writes Holly Stiel in her book, Thank You Very Much, a book for anyone who has ever said “May I help you?” That’s just one of the sayings Holly collected during the 16 years she spent as chief concierge of San Francisco’s Grand Hyatt Hotel. Here are some of the observations, techniques and tips Holly gathered to inspire and encourage customer service professionals in all industries.

“Great service isn’t the stuff on the outside. It’s the stuff on the inside.”

Remember, “the relationship you have with your customer starts with the one you have with yourself.” So be positive and upbeat. Take pride in your work and maintain a good sense of humor. As Holly observes, “Think of life as an elevator: You choose whether to press up or down.”

“Anybody can take care of nice people.”

When a person is being really awful, try to picture something good about them. Holly reminds herself that the difficult customer is someone’s mother, brother, aunt or sister. “Somebody loves this person,” she says.

“Don’t try to win in a disagreement with a customer, because being right is the booby prize.”
Every service giver should put this saying on an imaginary neon sign that lights up in their minds when they find themselves disagreeing with a customer, Holly says. “You may be right according to your organization’s policies or rules, but what are you winning when you win the argument?” the service consultant asks. “You may win, but you’ve made your customer upset. You get to be right, but you lose in the long run.

“Obstacles are invitations for creativity and skill.”

“Don’t let obstacles stop you,” Holly advises. Instead, let them draw out the very best in you. Look at obstacles as fun, challenging and amusing. When problem-solving, take the opportunity to really show your stuff. “Imagine that service is like the Olympics,” she writes. “Keep trying to break those world records.”

“In service, a masterpiece is a customer who arrives unhappy and leaves happy. But only an inspired and disciplined artist can create a masterpiece.”

As a customer service professional, you can be that inspired and disciplined artist. But it takes effort to do so, and it requires drawing on all the skills, training and talent at your command.

“When a customer asks for something, always add one little thing to it: a smile, an added bit of information or something.”

Going the extra step is the “wow” you want your customer to take away from your contact. As Holly advises all service givers, “Be the cause of wondrous things.”

“Imagine that customers have signs on them that say, ‘Make me feel important’. Then do it.”