How do you Create an Incredible Guest Experience? It Starts with Your Employees’ Experience

We know how important it is to create incredible guest or customer experience. But have you been looking at it first through the lens of your employees’ experience?

All too often, we put together training programs or launch initiatives or assign e-Learning modules to employees about what we expect from them, but never stopped to ask if in fact they are satisfied. If they are having a positive employee experience. If it is justified asking them to deliver a certain experience because it is in alignment with their values.

Sadly, all too often, we ask for a higher standard for our employees than we are delivering to them.

Please hear this: There is a connection between employee and guest or customer experience. You do not have one without the other. To try is an exercise in futility.

Recently, I hosted a live event at a five-star, beautiful resort. I wanted my family to benefit from my business so I decided to host it somewhere where they could come with me and most importantly, I wanted to serve my coaching clients by giving them an incredible place to learn and reflect that would bring ease, joy and abundance into their businesses.

Good in theory. Only one problem. The people at the resort were miserable.

From the minute anyone attempted to make a reservation, they were faced with broken links, coupons not activated, long waits on hold and short-tempered agents. Was it their fault? Nope. They didn’t break the systems or show up to do a bad job.

When everyone arrived, the wait in line at the front desk was long. The reservations were wrong. People had to be moved to different rooms. Requests to bring luggage up to rooms or sign up for shuttles weren’t booked. Was it their fault? Nope. We learned most were new, they were short staffed, and the hotel was booked above capacity.

It was not unusual to see a staff member there at 8:00 in the morning, and they’d still be there at 8:00 at night. We were there for one week, and some staff and managers we saw there every single day. Not only is that not possible or reasonable but it makes me wonder, what kind of retention problem exists that you need people working there that many days?

I won’t go on, but one thing became very clear. The individuals who were the face of the customer experience were overworked, unsupported, and undervalued. How can you profess to be a five-star hotel when you don’t deliver a five-star experience to guests? And how can you be a five-star hotel when you deliver a one-star employee experience to your front-line staff and middle managers?

I may have been frustrated, but at least I got to go home. Their only options were to put up with it or leave. Are you reflecting right now on if your employees experience the same two inferior choices? It doesn’t have to be that way.

How do you create an incredible guest or customer experience that represents your brand well aligns to the employee experience? Here are four secrets:

1.What You Expect for Customers You Must Deliver to Employees

Take a look at your customer service and guest experience training. Now take out the word “customer” and replace it with “employee”. Do you live that? If the answer is no, start there. Don’t ask something of someone that you can’t deliver yourself.

Last fall I had the pleasure of speaking for the senior management team for a hospitality organization on the list of Great Places to Work. In preparation for the talk, I took their Guest Experience e-Learning training and presented my recognition talk in alignment with those seven pillars of their guest experience. They connected the dots instantly, what aligned well between the guest and employee experience, and what they needed to work on for employees. And that’s why they’re a Great Place to Work. Because they’re committed to moving the needle on the experience for all.

2. Analyze Your Data

Consider your employee feedback and customer feedback side-by-side. All too often we look at each set of data in isolation, and at different points in time. Some of the call centre owners I spoke for in March sent out an employee experience survey every day because that’s what they do for customers. Keep the pulse on both, and you will begin to see connections; when one goes up, the other is up there too. Effect one, the other follows. It’s like a two for one deal!

3. Identify Your Priorities (A Wish Doesn’t Create Change)

If you have a target and an operational priority for your customer or guest experience, also have one for the employee experience. What project or initiative will help with both? What barriers will roadblock both? What is the most important thing you need to address immediately? What is going to require longer-term effort? For example, as a recognition expert, my advice is to start with recognizing your staff in small ways, and monitor customer satisfaction scores; I suspect you will see, the more recognition you give out to employees, the more your guests will say their experience was exceptional and ratings will be higher. How do I know? Because my clients do this and cannot believe how small gestures make such a huge impact so quickly.

And by the way, rather than try to fix all of those data points in your surveys, keep it simple with just a few allowing you to make sure they’re aligned.

4. Measure What Matters

With those priorities, you will need to measure success on both the customer and the employee side. Likely the measures are out of alignment, but you can make small tweaks to bring them into alignment for frequency and initiative. There is no point in measuring something that you aren’t sure what impact it will have, or so many things that you have no time left to make small tests of change. Measure a few things well – strategically and often – and once those numbers stabilize, move onto the next priority.

The bottom line is this: your front-facing customer is going to remember how they feel with your employees, and you may never get a chance to serve them again or the cost of losing them might be so high it’s worth the work I’ve outlined here. It’s hard enough to retain top talent without depriving them of an environment where they can thrive.

If you’ve been focusing on the guest experience, why don’t you share this information with other people on your team? What other ideas do you have? Share them in the comments below!

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