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Customer service secrets from 5-star hotel blog

Customer Service Secrets From the Most Awarded 5-Star Hotel in the World

By Rhonda Basler | March 12, 2015 | Blog Posts | Engage Customers

I’m pleased to present a second article by noted author, speaker and Forbes contributor, Micah Solomon. While Micah and I share a similar point of view, his individual style and perspective provide unique structure and clarity around the real issues companies face today. Read on for Micah’s wit, wisdom and thought-provoking insight regarding customer experience.

Want to improve your own company’s customer service? If so, who better to learn from than Colorado Springs’ landmark Broadmoor Hotel And Resort, where the customer service is so genuine, eager and consistent that it visibly turns guests into nicer human beings when they stay there.

This level of customer service has earned an unmatched record: 5-star designation (the highest) for 53 straight years as determined by Forbes Travel Guide (formerly Mobil Travel Guide). And it is a level of service  that continues to set The Broadmoor apart in the eyes of its thousands of guests, some of them fourth and fifth generation “Broadmoor families.”

I had the opportunity to pull back the curtain with Resident Manager Ann Alba (one of the most visible leaders at the hotel) as well as Calvin Banks, Broadmoor’s Director Of Training. We had an opportunity to discuss how this complex and sprawling operation with over 2,000 employees spread across the various parts of its Colorado Springs operations (including its newest, the Wilderness Experience), continues to sail so smoothly.

  1. Supportive ownership with a long-term vision is key.  The Broadmoor has only had three owners in its nearly 100-year history, and each of them has supported the guest-centered principles on which the hotel is run. The current owner is in fact putting the hotel in a 100-year trust so it can continue without interference far into the future.
  2. Continuity in employees is crucial.  Ann Alba, Resident Manager, has been with the hotel more than 28 years (not entirely unusual for the leadership at the hotel) and the average tenure of each employee is more than double the industry average.
  3. “Every guest, every employee, every time.” There can be no guest, nor any interaction with a guest, that can be allowed to slip. As Calvin Banks, Broadmoor’s Director Of Training put it, “The Broadmoor is a destination and people don’t compartmentalize when it comes to their experience with us.  They put it all together and they wrap it in a bow and then they stamp a label on it. Either the whole thing was fantastic or it wasn’t.”
  4. Training, training, training.  The Broadmoor’s internal course offerings are astounding. More than 70 courses on an enormous variety of guest-related topics are offered to employees, in addition to the training the employees receive multiple times a year from the Forbes Travel Guide team.
  5. Select the best employees–from anywhere you can find them, anywhere in the world. “You can teach a turkey to climb a tree, but why not hire a squirrel?” is one of the Broadmoor’s unofficial hiring slogans.  To get those squirrels–natural tree climbers – Broadmoor doesn’t limit its selection pool to greater Colorado Springs, or even the entire United States. Instead, Broadmoor selects employees—the best of the best–from around the world, actively involving thei leadership in overseas as well as domestic recruiting. And how do they define the best? “The people with the best traits, and most interest, in serving guests.” 
  6. Interviews aren’t everything.  Being able to ace an interview doesn’t guarantee a job at the Broadmoor. They’re not looking for people who interview well. They’re looking for people “with heart,” and their window into a potential employee’s heart comes as likely from “how they treat the garage attendant as they’re coming up, the receptionist who is taking their name, how they interact with the staff that they’re passing on their way to the interview” as it does from their “performance” (which, really, is what it is,) within the interview itself.
  7. Leadership is on the floor, not in the office.  Ann Alba: “My management style is out on the floor. My best days are spent in the lobbies greeting our guests and making rounds and checking on the departments and welcoming the generational guests [The Broadmoor has third, fourth and even fifth generation guests]. 
  8. Model the behavior you want–and correct employees immediately if they don’t get the hint.  Being able to model optimal behavior and practices is an important part of the leadership-on-the-floor approach.  And if leading by example isn’t enough, correct the employee in question immediately (but discreetly and without blame).  Don’t have them out there practicing the wrong way to do things any longer than is absolutely necessary.

Micah Solomon is a customer service consultant, customer experience keynote speaker and bestselling  author.

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