Shocking discovery at Hilton Hotel

It was just another seminar at another hotel – or so I thought. To my surprise, I witnessed something unusual. Are you ready?…are you sitting down?…yes, I experienced FABULOUS customer service!

Real World Story: It all started at 8:45 am on March 8th at the Hilton Philadelphia Airport hotel. As soon as I entered, a lovely young woman greeted me with a beautiful smile and said “Welcome to the Hilton. How can I help you?” I asked her for directions to three different places and she, patiently and pleasantly, directed me to all three. On my way to the restaurant, I passed a coffee cart. I asked the employee if they had any bananas and he said “No, but the restaurant does and it is right there”. He smiled and pointed across the hall. I asked the hostess if I could get a banana and she very enthusiastically said “Oh sure, they’re over there. Just grab one. They’re free.”  Free? Really? Why was everyone being so nice?

As I left the restaurant with my banana, I noticed two gentlemen wearing Hilton name tags standing to my left. They both smiled and said “Good morning.” I approached both men and said “I’ve been in this hotel less than four minutes and I’ve already been greeted by three smiling employees AND I got a free banana. What’s wrong with you people?” The men looked at me for a few seconds then the three of us burst into laughter. I  said to them, “I teach  customer service for a living. Your people are demonstrating the principles I teach. You are going to put me out of business. Why is everyone so nice?” One of the men said “that’s how we do things around here.” He introduced himself as the General Manager of this hotel and the other gentleman as the VP of Operations from the management company, Chesapeake Hospitality.  Wow. I was impressed. Not only did these two men demonstrate the behaviors they expect of their employees, they also uphold the company values. They are the epitome of “leading by example”.

Strategy:  Most people assume that great customer service happens on the front line.  This is true to a certain extent. However, it’s so much more than that. First, it takes a company whose mission and values support the delivery of exceptional customer service.  Then, there needs to be customer service policies and protocols, but that’s not enough. It takes leadership to walk the talk…to be involved…to get and give honest feedback. And that is exactly what the employees at the Hilton Philadelphia Airport have demonstrated. Visit them when you get a chance. I guarantee you will be shocked and pleased.

Remember: If you want your employees to demonstrate great customer service behaviors, it must start with the people at the top.  (And giving away free food doesn’t hurt either!)

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