Management Articles


Customer Service Training - Who Did We Forget?

By: Carol Verret

Carol Verret and Associates Consulting and Training offers training and consulting services to the hospitality industry in the areas of sales and customer service. Carol's latest training product is a comprehensive customer service system, ResultsWOW. For a complete description of her services, log on to her web site at Be sure to subscribe to her newsletter, ResultsWoW Customer Service Newsletter by sending an email

We always seem to focus our training initiatives and incentives on the front of the house employees - front desk, bell staff and concierge. Who are leaving out of this equation? The back of the house -- housekeepers, maintenance engineers, and kitchen staff.

If you think they aren't important from a guest service standpoint, think again. I had a client check into a resort hotel do a site inspection. They were considering booking their Board of Directors meeting at the property. So we checked them into a mini suite for the weekend. The room was warm and the air conditioning units didn't seem to help so they called maintenance. The engineer arrived and indicated that the room would cool off when the sun went down. This was not the response they were looking for. When they questioned why one air conditioning unit seemed to work but the other one didn't, the maintenance engineer replied, "we only use that unit for spare parts." My clients checked out never to be heard from again. True story.

Are you certain that your maintenance engineers wouldn't reply the same way? When we hire our 'back of the house' employees, it is usually because of their skill set and not their customer service attitudes. We fail to give them the skills necessary to respond to a customer request in a tactful and diplomatic way. Failing to include housekeeping, maintenance and the other 'back of the house' employees in our routine customer service updates is a mistake that can cost us business.

It is not enough to develop a customer service orientation program for them but it is critically important to benchmark their department's performance using the franchise Guest Service Scores. Are yours posted in every department and do you set goals for improvement in the department's areas that are measured and rewarded?

For example, here is an achievable goal to increase Guest Service Scores to the system average.
  • Discuss the areas that require improvement
  • Develop an action plan with the team to do it.
  • Set a timeframe for achievement
Reward the department when the goal is achieved with an incentive, such as money. It doesn't have to be a lot of money but ten dollars to each member of the team could mean a lot to them, and a lot more to the hotel in terms of guest retention.
  • Set a new goal
The side benefit is that including them in product delivery engenders a team spirit and helps them understand that what they do and how they do it impacts the hotel. When all the members of the 'back of the house' teams understand how their job effects the hotel's overall performance, they begin to care a bit more about the guest experience.

© Copyright 2001 Carol Verret

The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. ManagerWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. ManagerWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.


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