Improve your Customer Service with these Four Time-Honored Steps

Written By Ann Ashley


How important is customer service? Genuine, superb customer service in any business can change peoples’ lives. Just ask Charles Thompson, General Manager of the Inn on Biltmore Estate. The story about how he came to work at Biltmore and why he’s stayed is a testament to customer service at its best.

In fall of 2004, Biltmore was inundated with two back-to-back hurricanes. Flooding was happening all across the estate. Charles and his wife were staying at the Inn that weekend, enjoying a vacation from their home in Memphis where he worked at the Peabody Hotel.

Not even a hurricane could dampen Biltmore’s customer service spirit

“We didn’t even know how bad it was until we left, but the Inn staff didn’t miss a beat,” said Charles. “They were gracious, genuine, and delightful.”

When the couple opened the blinds the next morning, they could see the Winery’s roof; everything else was standing water.  They came downstairs for breakfast, and everything worked like clockwork, from the gracious table service to the fresh food using local ingredients.

That experience changed Charles’ life and he resolved to work for the Inn. Seven months later a position in Executive Housekeeping opened; he applied and was hired.  He rose through management ranks to become general manager.

“All the employees were so focused on providing us with gracious hospitality it blew me away, and that was my trigger,” he said. “I never thought growing up as a kid I’d work at Biltmore, but here I am.”

Before he came to work at Biltmore, Charles wondered how it’s leaders created a culture where employees are so dedicated, even when they are experiencing trials in their personal lives. Now he knows why.

Employees make the best ambassadors

Whether it’s a storm, a product recall, a late delivery, or anything else that might constitute a problem, you have the opportunity to shift those issues from negative to positive.  How did your employees react to whatever issue you had? Were they focused on your customers’ experience? Did they maintain their professionalism?

In our day-long workshop we show you how to help your employees keep that focus, and tell you about processes Biltmore uses to assure you can provide gold standard customer service even in difficult times.

Four ways employees can improve your customer service

Start with WHY

We know that success is always driven by purpose. That’s why it’s crucial to ask your employees to develop their personal why, and then have them connect that to your organization’s purpose. Doing this assures authenticity and alignment throughout your company. It’s helpful to create systems you and your employees can use to help remember why we do what we do, even on the hardest days.

Build a spirit of service

How do you choose your employees? Building the best team means finding people who embrace your culture. Biltmore has fine-tuned the process using a number of methods, and we teach gracious hospitality to our employees before they begin interacting with guests.

Biltmore is a family-owned business, so building the family sense of community is simple. But any organization can build this family atmosphere by using the techniques we teach in our workshops—we’re happy to show you how.

Celebrate victories

When your employees provide that excellent customer service that goes above and beyond, a simple heartfelt thank you is the beginning of a celebration.  For those employees who served through a hurricane, there were many thank yous from staff and guests. A public acknowledgment of the victory is a good start, either in a company meeting or a companywide email. What are some ways you celebrate your victories?

Empower employees to resolve complaints

Ah, the frustration of trying to solve an issue with a customer service person who simply shrugs and says there’s nothing they can do. We’re sure that’s happened to you; it’s happened to us in our personal lives! We teach you how to empower your employees—it’s a skill that involves giving them ownership of their position. It takes the worry out of being wrong and helps them deliver customer service that won’t be forgotten.

“We empower employees so they can please our guests and make things happen. We form relationships. That’s what makes us different,” said Charles.

According to a study by PwC, an international professional services company, 32 percent of customers stop doing business with a brand they love as the result of ONE bad experience. No one can afford for that to happen. Let us be your guide in showing you how to focus on fantastic customer service by attending one of our training sessions.