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Customer Service: Be our Guest (Under our Terms)

Posted by Jody Urquhart on Mon, Aug 15, 2011 @ 11:46 AM

customer service speaker for financial industryHave you ever stayed with a friend where although you were an invited guest you felt like you were not welcome? I recently experienced this at a small family owned bed and breakfast in Cochrane AB. Everything about the swanky joint reeked of a reserved break it and pay mentality.

Like a prisoner in a friend's home, I felt that at any moment I could outstay my welcome. I was a guest on their terms, not mine. Their unique 'family hospitality' made it feel like they were watching guests, ready to pounce if they messed up. Their home is a fortress and they are protective of what is theirs.  My take on it is they should not be in the bed & breakfast business at all, but might be more comfortable operating a well-guarded, velvet roped museum.

Contrast this to the all inclusive resort where you can eat and drink in copious amounts and do whatever you want whenever you want. I have seen people eat themselves to oblivion, lose their manners and shout at waiters or get disgustingly drunk and urinate in water fountains in these locations.

It seems that too many rules gives off a protective vibe, while too lax rules bring out the worst in people. Striking a balance is the key.

The biggest factor isn't the existence of rules but the feeling you get from the place. If staff  and leadership are open, friendly, responsive, aware and paying attention, guests will respect that and respond in kind.

If staff members are indifferent, cold and disrespectful, guests will be, too. Typically, the prevalent attitude of management is reflected back in the behavior of guests.

When I am a customer service speaker in the financial industry, we often delve into how banks can make customers feel like family. The trick is for leadership to first treat staff as family. Happy families have rules, but overall it's the way they treat each other with respect and dignity that matters.

Often financial institutions pay more attention to rules than to people, when it should be the other way around. To make people feel welcome and at home, stop building a fortress that makes it impossible for them to feel welcome.  Build an inclusive atmosphere.

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Tags: leadership, customer service speaker in the financial industry, financial industry

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