Guest Service or Guest Obsession?

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guest service or obsession

Josh Liebman is the Guest Experience Evangelist for ROLLER Software.  With more than 16 years of experience in the attractions industry, Josh specializes in guest experience, including hospitality standards, complaint resolution, and guest feedback. Josh’s background includes attractions operations, guest service communications, quality assurance consulting, consumer analytics, and guest experience training.  Josh has worked for some of the top attraction operators in the world, including Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, Merlin Entertainments, and Cedar Fair, and has consulted for organizations including Ritz Carlton and The Coca-Cola Company.

Service is paramount to the success of any business, particularly where humans are interacting with other humans.  In the family entertainment business, many will argue that it’s critical.  The message is stressed to staff on day one that they need to come to work on time and appear presentable, greet guests with a smile and a friendly attitude, and keep their phone out of sight when they’re working and in front of guests.  By following these basics of guest service, your staff sets themselves up to meet guests’ expectations, which is foundational to delivering a superior experience.

But what if, instead of guest service, you took it to the next level and you focused on guest obsession?  As the Guest Excellent Manager at LEGOLAND Florida outside of Orlando, Tyler Pellerin focuses on how to be obsessed with your guests.  During his interview on The Guest Experience Show, Tyler shared how guest obsession fits in with LEGOLAND’s overall guest experience strategy:

“It starts with our guest obsession training.  Guest obsession is the pinnacle of our guest experience.  We’re not doing any rocket science by greeting our guests, thanking our guests, and telling them what our park has to offer.  Teaching that to people is very important to us, and we call it guest obsession.”

If guest service is where you meet the basics, guest obsession enables your staff to go above and beyond and exceed guests’ expectations as a natural part of your frontline team members’ job duties.  This results in more instances of guests receiving a personalized experience, enthusiasm that seamlessly flows from employee to guest, and guests’ needs being anticipated before the guest even needs to ask.  Attractions who are obsessed with their guests organically provide a better experience, which leads to increased repeat visitation, stronger word of mouth conversations, and more engaged loyal fans.

Just like nearly every other operational logistic, guest obsession is about consistency.  It’s not about something that you do once in a while, nor is it a “set it and forget it” exercise.  To demonstrate guest obsession, employees need to recognize that times when they feel that their job is redundant are still exciting moments for guests who are experiencing the attraction independently of anyone else, and their individuality must be acknowledged.

Tyler explains why consistency is so important to guest obsession.  “We need people to know that they’re going to hear a thousand times a guest asking where the bathroom is.  And on that thousandth time, your response needs to sound like it’s your first.”  An employee who does not demonstrate guest obsession will get frustrated hearing the same question over again, likely leading to a monotone response, lacking the basics of guest service, and making the guest feel like they are bothering the employee.

When employees are trained and immersed into the culture of guest obsession, not only do they exceed expectations, but they also truly wow” their guests through moments that surprise and delight.  They regularly deliver experiences that go beyond their job duties, go beyond their guests’ expectations, don’t impede on any other guests’ experiences, and create high value for guests, all without costing anything to the business.  Not only do they deliver “wow” moments regularly, but they also help innovate new “wow” moments that can be incorporated into your daily operation, thus lifting the guest experience even further.

Why is it so important to train your staff on guest obsession?  Tyler explains why.  “For some of our staff, it’s their very first job, so understanding the importance of guest obsession is so pivotal to delivering that 10 out of 10 experiences, so people truly have the greatest experience.”  You can hire for personality and attitude, but you cannot assume that just because a candidate is friendly and upbeat in their job interview that they fully align with your guest experience (or guest obsession) culture.  Especially if it is their first job, they may have the potential for guest obsession, but without formal and consistent training for it, it may never be brought out.

How are you ensuring that your staff aren’t just providing guest service, but demonstrating guest obsession?

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