10 Ways to Build a Guest Service Culture

“Guest Service is a culture, not an act.”  This is how Jen Rice, General Manager for Whoa Zone, summed up her guest experience philosophy in one sentence on The Guest Experience Show.  When asked to expand, she said, “It’s more than just doing something nice for someone or providing a wow moment.  It’s the culture in which the team, your business, and your park operates is what drives the guest experience and drives the service.

The actions that lead to positive service actions are a byproduct of the culture that you’ve created and instilled within your team.  When your guest service culture is thriving, the guest experience is naturally elevated, as staff members are regularly delivering a superior experience without wondering if they are doing the right thing or not.

On the flip side, when guest service is not the foundation of the culture, your staff may be meeting the basic requirements of their job description, but they don’t go beyond the guests’ expectations, they escalate guest complaints without attempting to resolve them first, and they don’t challenge their own levels of service that they provide.  In this case, any positive service encounters are one-off actions, not embedded into the culture.

Here are 10 ways that you can build a culture of guest service within your team:

    1. Hire for it
    2. Train for it
    3. Encourage it
    4. Provide the tools to deliver it
    5. Empower your staff to fix it
    6. Embrace guest feedback
    7. Embrace employee feedback
    8. Recognize it
    9. Coach your staff when they fall below
    10. Celebrate it

By focusing on all 10 of these steps in unison, you can ensure that guest service happens naturally due to the culture that you have built.  Hire people who are passionate about giving a great experience, and onboard them into your culture from day one through effective hiring and training.  Don’t stop there though, continue your motivation through morning meetings that include regular reminders, as well as tips and examples of how they can achieve the guest experience goals of your business.

Take it to the next level by making sure your staff has what they need to do their job effectively, without needing to ask for permission or wonder what the right decision is.  This becomes even more important when resolving service failures, therefore they must have not only the tools, but the empowerment to fix problems quickly and effectively when they come up.  Don’t be afraid to listen to what your guests have to say (as Ben Story also said nicely on The Guest Experience Show), and involve your staff in the process as much as possible by bringing them into the conversation.

Your positive service culture is one that is living and breathing, and must be nurtured in order to thrive.  Because of this, you must recognize when your team has done an outstanding job to encourage the behavior to continue.  You also must coach your employees when they fall below the standard, otherwise the standard will drop.

Lastly, always celebrate your wins and celebrate the amazing experience that you give to your guests.  Post the positive feedback and reviews that come in, reward your staff for doing a job well done, and let them know that their actions aren’t just actions, but that they feed into the greater guest experience culture that you have created.