What makes a Super Host, part two …

Last week I wrote about the SuperHost program and how it taps into fundamental customer service tools to help businesses improve their NPS scores.

But there’s another fundamental component covered by SuperHost: appreciating the emotional experiences customers go through.

I was reminded of this “emotional component” a few days ago. Some students asked if they could have a meeting with me. It was a busy day, so I asked them to follow me into my next lecture. I was expecting them to ask me for an extension on a project or some advice on studying for the exam.

I was wrong. One of the girls pulled out some stuffed animals, while another produced a card and a small plant. “We read your blog and we heard you’re having a tough term,” they said. “We want you to know we appreciate you and we hope things are going better.”

With that they left. I was blown away. The card expressed the same sentiment with the added words “You are awesome!”

Of course it brought tears to my eyes. The stuffed animals are for my kids, the plant for my desk, and the card … for my heart.

Working in the service industry, it’s easy to get caught up in scores, and ROI, and the grind … don’t get me wrong, these things are important.

But the heart of the matter is that customers are people, with lives outside the scope of our interactions, who need some TLC from time to time.

I’m confident these young women will make great additions to any tourism team because they have the brains, but more importantly, the heart, to make a difference with our visitors.

What makes a Super Host?

This summer my family and I pulled into our motel after a long day on the road. There had been an accident on the highway. We were cranky, and tired. The kids were DONE.

We stumbled into the office to check in, and a friendly woman appeared behind the counter. She offered my kids a glass of water and checked us in immediately. Five minutes later we were hydrated, settled in our room, and had the name of the best place to order a pizza.

It’s times like these that make me glad we live in a province of exceptional service providers. Tourism is about experiences, and the more we can foster remarkable front-line interactions, the more our guests are likely to recommend us.

Why do recommendations matter? Beyond TripAdvisor and other review-based platforms, recommendations are the heart of metrics like the Net Promoter Score, a tool whereby your detractors are taken from the promoters to give your experience an overall score. This score can be negative! It’s especially hard to achieve a positive score when you have multiple neutral customers. They don’t count in this calculation.

NPS is being used by Destination BC, Tourism New Zealand, and many other major brands.

One of the keys to helping BC achieve high scores with our visitors is consistent, industry-driven customer service training. That’s why it’s so exciting that go2HR has re-launched SuperHost, a training program first launched in 1985 in preparation for Expo86.

I recently had the privilege of piloting SuperHost with my students in the BCIT tourism marketing program. It’s a hands-on way for new entrants to the industry to learn what it takes to deliver remarkable experiences. The activities are fun and memorable.

Want to learn how you, or your team, can get the SuperHost designation? Visit https://www.go2hr.ca/training/superhost-customer-service-training for more info. Or contact me to set up a workshop!



WestJet: It’s the Little Things

Full admission, this is a love letter to WestJet, for which I have received zero compensation. For the uninitiated, WestJet is one of Canada’s two major airlines.

Dear WestJet –

As a tourism professional and customer service trainer for BC’s WorldHost program, I speak frequently about “touchpoints” and how these are critical for creating “remarkable service”. Here are a few of the small ways your team impressed me during our recent vacation to Manitoba:

1. Help at check-in! At both airports WestJetters were available to help us at the kiosk, figure out what to do with our carseats, and get us off to security in time. At no point did anyone make us feel stupid – they said encouraging things like “no problem, this is a little confusing” and “don’t worry, you’ve got time.”

2. Warm smiles and “thank-you”s throughout. On the way back our flight was delayed and each WestJetter we encountered thanked us for our patience. This includes the staff at the gate doing check ins, the crew members disembarking, and the crew that welcomed us aboard.

3. Constant updates. While our flight was delayed (by 20 minutes) we received multiple verbal updates on the situation. We were thanked for our help in boarding quickly. At one point a flight attendant noticed something on the wing and one of the pilots came back to check it out. There was an announcement before, during, and after this check, making us feel safe and valued.

4. A glass of water with our pre-ordered meals. When our meals were delivered the attendant brought us each a glass of water, explaining that beverage service would start later. This cost the airline next to nothing but made a huge impression with me. The attendant took a moment and thought “I bet this family would enjoy a drink with their meals, and this is what I can do to help.” It was at this point I turned to my spouse and said “only on WestJet!” Yes, I ‘remarked’ about the service I received. Remarkable service!

5. The “sandwich incident”. Once in the air, the couple ahead of us ordered two ham sandwiches during beverage service. They were extremely (!) upset to find out that there was only one left. The attendants were gracious, apologized, and made comparable menu suggestions. They gently explained that pre-ordering is the best way to guarantee an item is on board as different flights have different capacities. And then, minutes later, an attendant appeared with a ham sandwich (a customer up front had changed their mind). The previously irate customers enjoyed their free sandwich and commented to each other (remarked, even) about the great service on board.

Now these are all little things. Of course the big things were handled – safety, timeliness (even with the delay all connections were made), our baggage arrived as promised. This is a great departure from my experience with other major airlines, where I’ve experienced:

  • Getting stranded in a stopover city with a baby and having to negotiate for a hotel stay and meal vouchers
  • Getting stranded in a departure city while four months pregnant with no updates, no accommodations, and no help
  • Waiting over an hour for a carseat, not being able to locate help, and finally receiving said help after 90 minutes

Sadly the above list could go on and on. There’s no question that airline travel is a tricky business, with razor-thin margins and unpredictable conditions. WestJet is getting it right by making sure that everything, especially the little things, are handled well.