The Spirit of Elvis in Customer Service

© Holly Stiel

What can Elvis teach us as it relates to hospitality?

Customer service as a business focus seems to have companies ALL SHOOK UP.

Can you let customers know I WANT YOU…I NEED YOU…I LOVE YOU
and make sure that they constantly RETURN TO SENDER
because they’re totally STUCK ON YOU?

To retain customers you need to pay attention to the people who interface with those customers.

If the BIG BOSS MAN is afraid that an empowered front line will be stepping on his or her BLUE SUEDE SHOES, the chances of consistently satisfying customers becomes limited. These days, everyone, customers and employees alike- seem to be screaming DON’T BE CRUEL and TREAT ME NICE. If you want to steer clear of turning into HEARTBREAK HOTEL, LET YOURSELF GO, and be open to the lessons we can learn from the King of Rock ‘n Roll. For every front-line service provider, every interaction is NOW OR NEVER. We will really begin to win when we ONLY BELIEVE that one guest at a time, one interaction at a time, really depends on THE WONDER OF YOU!

Some of you will remember how Elvis used to curl his top lip into a semi snarl after every song and say the magic words, “Thank You, Thankyouverymuch.” If you are too young or not fortunate enough to have actually seen Elvis perform, you still know the songs, the nuances, the spirit of Rock ‘n Roll that he represented. His powerful memory lingers on 25 years after he played his last note. To have become a pop icon, and to be a part of the collective memory and fabric of American culture. Elvis got into our very souls by representing the many facets that companies and individuals committed to offering quality customer service need to embrace.

Let’s face it, the essence of Rock ‘n Roll is all in the attitude.

Start with his famous tag line, “Thank You, Thankyouverymuch.” The first lesson we can learn from Elvis is this: If we are in a service business (and aren’t we all) the four most important words in our business are Thank You Very Much. If you aren’t hearing those words, and saying those words many times a day, something has gone terribly wrong. As Elvis would say, there is T.R.O.U.B.L.E. The first thing I learned as a concierge was that I was in the Thank You Very Much business. If I was hearing those words consistently, I knew I was doing my job correctly and I instinctively knew that those magic words would separate us from the competition.

If you’re working in a front-line position or managing people who do, you know that hearing an appreciative Thank You Very Much can go a long way in fueling the fire that keeps people saying “May I Help You” in a sincere and effective way. Unfortunately, most employees are not suffering from over appreciation and sincere Thank You’s. Sincere Thank You’s have become as rare as Elvis sightings outside of Memphis. The word sincere is key here. It wasn’t just that Elvis said the words, It was how he said them. Everyone felt it, he said Thank You with heart, which is why people responded. Most importantly, it was said with humility. To truly serve customers with heart and humility is to take the concept of Thank You Very Much to a new level. Customers are human lie detectors, they know if you are sincere or just going through the motions.

Elvis’s logo was TCB which means taking care of business. Using Elvis as an over arching metaphor for service, We can look at service as the performing art that it really is. As with all great performers, when Elvis was “on stage” it was I’m here, look at me, be with me, ‘ll give you my best right now!

The Disney Corporation has taken this concept of service performance (cast members in costumes, performing on stage[workstations]) to a high art. If you stop and think about the last concert you attended, be it the opera or a heavy metal group, ask yourself this question: Did you care what kind of a day the performers were having? Did you care if they had a good nights sleep, were having personal problems, etc? Of course not-neither do your customers, about you. Consistency is quality, and Elvis knew he had to shake, rattle and roll every time!

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