I am an international student pursuing masters degree in Marketing. While studying, I have been working casually in this company for the last few months. I am not so sure about the difference, but sometimes they call me Food & Beverage Attendant and some other times Waitress. I actually never mind, not only because the pay is just the same, above the award rate, but also because the professionalism of the leaders that turns the busy, fast-paced environment feel less stressful than other workplaces.
At least that is what I have been learning during these few months. Most of the employees are happy with the way these leaders literally lead them by example. Instead of screaming and threatening, they always say "Please" and "Thank You."
Everybody, especially those living in Australia, might think giving gratitude just a culture or lip service that people never really mean it. Well, I would not argue over this. However, I would like to invite you to see this from different point of view - where I eventually experience being the one receiving it.
It happened on the second Saturday of September. I and five other staff were assigned to serve in the Director's room, where more than 150 guests from top management were expected to attend a function. Before we started, we have been notified to be extra careful with more details about these high-level people - what they liked and what they'd did not.
This made me a bit nervous. I thought these people will be hard to please. Nevertheless, I tried to do my best as I have always been doing so far. For eight hours, I never stopped looking after the guests, offering them food and beverage, cleaning their tables, topping up their glasses, changing their bottles and asking them if they needed something else. In short, I actually did nothing really different.
By the end of our service, while we were busying cleaning the room, we were called by our team leader. She said she had a few to say. I was wondering what has gone wrong. To my surprise, she said she just wanted to say thanks for our service that made our guests satisfied. All of a sudden I felt this warmth in my heart. Other staff responded with smiles. All of us felt happy to the rest of the day.
This simple expression of gratitude really turned our service, which was literally intangible, into something noticeable and even measurable. Yes, while everyone agrees that service is intangible, I have come to a point that despite its intangibility, service is actually visible in smiles and other facial expressions, audible in voices, tasted in food and beverages served, etc. Therefore, it can be measured based on customer satisfaction, for example.
While many companies frequently conduct customer satisfaction surveys to measure their service performances, only few that forward the results back to their staff. They take all the rewards for themselves and their high-level management and apply the punishment to these low-level staff. With all the compliments put on one side and all pressures put on the other side, the principle of rewards and punishments is not properly implemented.
Fortunately, this company I have been working for the last few months has been leading few steps ahead. Referring to the book entitled "Services Marketing, Integrating Customer Focus Across the Firm" by Valerie Zeithaml et al, I would say that it has hit the right track to strategic human resources management.Not only does it hire the right people and develop their skills to deliver quality service, it also provide support system to retain its best people and their emotional labour.
These "Please" and Thank You" might just be a culture or lip service, but when maintained consistently and expressed sincerely, it may have a significant impact that leads to high-performing staff and satisfied customers.
Before I put an end to this article, I would like to say that even I need the money. Who does not? But, it is not money that keeps people stay.