The power of service standard

4 simple steps to create memorable experience for the guests and make the day easier for ourselves

Standard dices
Guest courtesy standard is important as any other

One of the main aspects of reaching service excellence and creating memorable experiences for our guests is consistency. Our ability to maintain the level of service, quality and attention we provide to our guests, no matter in which part of their journey they are or with whom from our team they interact, is essential for standing out. Consistency is a complicated matter though, as it requires great focus and everyones involvement. Rushed in our daily roles and challenges we are often not able to monitor all aspects of our operations closely at all times. So any hospitality establishment, like most businesses alike, will only run smoothly if standards and systems are created and applied.

To start with, it is important to note that our focus should be on hospitality education. Instead of training for the script we should create a mindset of valuing the guests and aiming for service excellence. So while standards should not be the first thing we focus on or the start point we familiarise our new staff with, they are important for keeping consistent experience delivery and help our people be more confident in daily tasks.

Although some of the standards we follow with hight attention and care, such as H&S and hygiene, kitchen operations, room set up or answering the phone "within three rings", we often tend to forget the general guest interaction or courtesy ones, which, quite frankly, should be the main service standard and the backbone of our establishment.

The main service standard should serve as a base for how we interact with our guests. It should be clearly understandable for all employees and easy to action and put in practise, just like for example the famous Ritz Carlton 3 Steps of Service. It does not need to be too specific or forced and should encourage engagement, providing the staff with opportunity to stay authentic and personal! We are not aiming at creating the script, but more like a guide.

So how to start and what to keep in mind while creating your memorable and effective service standard?

Involve your team

Management might have clear goals for the business and the know-how for creating standards, but the staff will mainly be the ones implementing them. So involving teams or at least individual representatives into the process is essential to succeed. Gather together, discuss and brainstorm to achieve the best result.

Start with the goal

What is that we want to achieve while implementing the standard into operations? Obviously we aim for better guest experience, but is there anything more specific? Do we want to make our guests feel looked after or entertained? Do we want interactions to be personal or more of a distant, traditional manner? Thinking about the objective will guide us towards effective result.

Reflect your brand/team

Being relevant for the business and feel natural to people is another important aspect. The service standard should encompass the philosophy and values by which we operate. If the standard is for the whole organisation to use, it might be more general. If it is the one to guide a specific team, it can focus more on team’s character or role within guest experience journey.

Make it memorable

The whole purpose of the standard is to be used. Only by doing so we will ensure consistent service delivery from different people to our guests. So it is important to keep it simple, unique and easy to remember. Nobody likes memorising pages long “rules”, even less to follow them. So let’s make lives easier for our people and ourselves.

A good way to do so is to use acronyms. Short, meaningful (to the team or business) abbreviations that everyone knows what it stands for. An example of a simple, general service standard could be GUEST (Greet- Understand- Emphasise- Serve- Thank), which is very relevant and identifies the most important aspects of every guest interaction, so guiding the staff through the process and helping them remember what matters.

These can be as creative as your imagination and needs allow, as long as they serve the purpose of ensuring we focus on the guests and make them feel special and acknowledged. I have worked with the hotel where entertainment team had a GUCCI standard (named after the “hotel” cat!), which stood for: Greeting - Uniqueness - Compliment - Chat - Inspiration. Perhaps quite unusual from the first glance, I must say, it perfectly served their purpose - to entertain and create fun atmosphere for holiday makers. As a former entertainer myself, I can agree that unique personalities, who show attention to all the guests by greeting and spending a moment to chat, while making them feel special by complimenting and involving them in entertainment activities by inspiring to try different things on holidays - is surely a dream team!

So make it your own - and make it work!

To gain guests loyalty and create moments to remember is not an easy task. To do so consistently - even less so. Deliver service with any level of consistency often requires much more than warmth and good will. Building and maintaining some standards and processes can help us reach repeatable results in unlike situations and with different people. And together with the right hospitality mindset it can help us path the road to excellence.