At our recent Business & Leadership Conference (BLC) in Dallas, we returned to the Four Seasons Las Colinas Hotel and Resort. The name implies expensive, but it really wasn’t when you factor in the convenience of the location and the level of service (and what we can learn from it).
BLC 2014 was our best ever, and much of the credit can be attributed to the venue. The evaluations from attendees all rank the venue as outstanding. Every detail was anticipated correctly, and the execution was flawless. But there’s more to the story …
We discovered numerous things that the Four Seasons staff does instinctively – these touches directly relate to our world of value-added services. Our members, just like the Four Seasons, tend to charge a little more for their services. Like NSCA members, the Four Seasons provides exceptional experience (and that does cost a little extra). Their staff members understand their customers even better than they understand rules. Do we do that?
Whenever our attendees needed anything, the response from the staff was “of course.” They know their clients, and they know their clients are in a hurry – and can’t be bothered or annoyed by excessive rules or approvals. Behind the scenes, they surely followed rules, but the resolution to any issue was immediate and always a positive experience. Even an over-sold condition resulted in a positive experience for one guest. Don’t we get oversold at times? Don’t we have clients with high expectations?
Am I encouraging a “do-whatever-it-takes” mentality, regardless of cost or expense incurred? No. I’m encouraging you to consider matching the level of service with the expectations of each client, and to use evaluations to prove the results. I’m also encouraging you to use the results to retain customers by illustrating that the value you provide is worth every penny.
Teach and train your staff in a way that encourages eye contact, knowing everyone by name, relating to the type of client, and, when necessary delivering even bad news professionally. Four Seasons must have a secret recipe for hiring great people and grooming them to excel at customer service, and I think our industry can mirror that success.
During the event, we also recognized that efficiencies and accommodations directly result in labor and cost savings on the work we provided. Rather than NSCA staff members needing to supervise, second guess, manage, and redo the work of the Four Seasons, we spent our time with attendees so we could focus on what we do best. BLC was successful with only four NSCA staff members onsite (and that number includes me, who didn’t lift a finger). Isn’t that what we sell to our clients?
Will we be back to Four Seasons? Of course we will – they’ve left us no choice!