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Monday, April 16, 2007

HR and Management’s role in Helping Employees Go the Extra Mile

We just had a company outing this weekend in one of the more popular resorts in Cavite. The experience made me realize the importance of going the extra mile (GEM) in customer service which is one of my favorite topics to discuss in my programs. Please read up to the end to see how you as an HR practitioner or Manager can help improve the GEM Quotient of your company’s employees.

I'm talking about GEM not because we got it during our two-day stay in the said resort but because we didn't. For a resort that charges world class fees (my euphemism for exorbitant), you'd expect world class service, what we got instead was average if not mediocre service. Let me cite first the things they did that passed my rather easy to pass standard: they all smile and greet the customers, they respond quickly to requests if they can afford it (sometimes they can't because there are too few crews and there are too many customers). There were attempts to be proactive when the assistant manager offered to install a water station when we were setting up for some teambuilding games. Unfortunately the promise did not materialize which I associate with poor coordination.

Now, the parts where they could have done better in terms of going the extra mile.

I've always believed that each transaction brings forth a wealth of knowledge that can be used to improve one company's service. There are a couple things that you can anticipate for your customer even as they fail to anticipate it like a video karaoke. A company outing in the Philippines is almost incomplete without it. If I were the resort coordinator, I would go the extra mile by telling my customer that I will have this thing set up for them just in case there are people who want to belt out a tune or two and I'd bet there'll be a good number of people who will enjoy this. You've probably guessed by now why I'm tackling this topic.

Next GEM opportunity lost: it may sound silly to have reminders posted on the wall of each room or unit that says each guest is issued a set of towel and toiletries and that the room will be checked for the presence of towels before the clients are checked out and that lost towels costs PhP 525.00 each. I never thought I'd miss this sign when we paid more than 3,000 for 6 lost towels that were never there in the first place! Had we known this would happen, we would have demanded for them towels! Our employees did not bother to complain because they brought their own. When we explained to the front desk officer that there we rooms with insufficient towels and these coincided with their audit even if our people didn't know the result of the room check, she said that is not possible because one of the managers checked the room before used it. Isn't that tantamount to saying we're just lying??? We paid an incredible amount of money to gain access to their service and wonderful resort and this is what we got for doing so! Amazing isn't it?
You might say Ed, you’re stupid and you are blaming the service provider for your stupidity, and I’ll say, yeah, it might be stupid for us to not anticipate such things but you see this is what GEM is all about, preventing customers from making mistakes and looking stupid! If that’s not going the extra mile, I don’t know what is!

We will most likely not go back to that resort. Not because the service is bad, it's not really bad overall, but there are more and cheaper resorts that do a better job of anticipating and going the extra mile in serving their customers. Like many customers we'd like to get our money's worth in service.

Now you might be asking why this is an HR concern. Like the resort that I'm talking about your company have customers too and we as HR managers who are responsible for seeing to it that people's role and performance expectations are clear in terms of customer service should do something before we lose the next customer to competition, not because our service is bad but because theirs is better. This is what I mean in my previous articles when I say that customer service programs should go beyond teaching people how to be nice.

I hope you are able to pick up something from this and if you need help in making sure that your frontliners go the extra mile in serving your customers, call me at 639205044521 or email me at and I'll be more than happy to go the extra mile with you!

Here’s one GEM of an idea that I’d like to share that will surely boost the GEM Quotient of your staffs . Come up with an easily accessible evaluation sheet that says. “we’d like to catch our employees Going the Extra Mile in serving our customers, please help us by telling us about your experience so that we can repeat it. If you are running a resort or restaurant or any other establishment, have this available everywhere so that your customers can easily note them. Reward people for giving GEMs of customer service and have others replicate their action. Keep track and see how people’s performance improve in no time.

One more note, GEM is not just for front-liners, they can’t give GEMs if your maintenance department, accounting, and yes even HRD can’t give GEMs.

Happy pursuit of service excellence!

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