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National Customer Service Week: The key ingredients for world class service

This week, from the 3rd to the 7th of October, we’re celebrating National Customer Service Week. As a specialist in tailored guest services, this is right up our street! Customer service is the core of what we do and something we pride ourselves upon every day. Great service is woven into our DNA.

  The importance of great and personalised customer service should never be underestimated. A recent report by FM Outsource showed that 86% of consumers said their relationship with a brand has been negatively impacted by a poor customer service conversation and almost a third of consumers have told friends or family to avoid a company following a negative customer service experience. The report also found that 80% of consumers believe that poor delivery of customer service reveals a brand’s general lack of care towards its customers.

  “At Portico we believe that there are three constituent pillars, the cornerstones to consistently great service: setting up high standards of service delivery, making sure that they are clearly communicated, and lastly, building a team of trained, motivated and engaged people,” says Oliver Hiner, operations director for Portico.

  We make a difference through the experiences provided by our people, by building trusted relationships and by continuously evolving our customer service solutions.

  Portico’s three values ‘Love’, ‘Immersive’ and ‘Experience’ underpin everything we do. Whether it is social engagement activities, the service programmes which drive our guest experiences, or the learning pathways which develop our diverse talent. Our values continue to guide our initiatives and innovations and it’s important every single one of our colleagues are engaged and on board with this to provide the world-class service levels we aspire to.

Key ingredients for customer service success
  There’s previously been a stereotype that reception and front-of-house roles are easy but there’s more to it than meets the eye. We caught up with Levi Powers, our Assistant Reception Services Manager at a leading bank’s London headquarters to see what her recipe for customer service success is:

  - Hire for passion
Recruiting the right personality for guest services roles is the first step to success. Often companies prioritise academic achievements and work experience but hiring based on personality and a genuine passion is a more fruitful ingredient. We believe if someone has the right attitude, we can teach everything else. We want to recruit people that genuinely want to make a positive difference. For us a genuine smile, clear communication, vibrancy and personality are worth their weight in gold.

  - A clear framework and learning opportunities
A clear framework, mission and policy underpin optimum customer service. Clear structure and foundations for growth are critical for customer service to excel. At Portico we have a very robust policy in place – we know exactly how service should be and this is underpinned by a comprehensive programme of learning opportunities that support both personal and professional learning. Portico champions progression via our Portico Pathways programme which is supported by ‘your journey’ sessions, and talent mapping. At Portico, we don’t believe role-specific training is enough. We provide skills, knowledge, emotional intelligence, and adaptability quotient to set our people apart.

  - Attention to detail
  We know it’s the small things that can often make big differences. Paying attention to the floral arrangements on the front desk to make sure they look their best, to supporting somebody to trying to find a meeting room because you know they are running late. Attention to detail in every aspect is how service goes from being good to exceptional.

  - Anticipating someone’s needs
Anticipating needs is a critical part of our role. We need to know what a guest wants before they know themselves. As a front-of-house team, we need to constantly be one step ahead to see how we can ease a situation for someone and make their day a bit more enjoyable. For example, when graduate candidates are awaiting an interview, we know they will be nervous so we’re quick to offer them a glass of water and saying ‘good luck’ makes them feel supported.

  - Be approachable
Guest services teams should be present as soon as an employee or visitor comes through the door. Front-of-house personnel need to show they are approachable, be open, friendly, and welcoming and have a professional, proactive and people-first attitude. No task is ever too big or small. Employees and visitors should enjoy personalised service, this has the biggest influence on customer service.

  - Great teamwork
  There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’. Exceptional guest services rely on many people’s input – it simply couldn’t be done to exceptional standards solo. Our team is great at all pitching in to help each other to provide the best service for our clients. We’re all responsible for great service so it’s important to give team members the chance to voice their opinions. Collectively we work towards common and aligned goals, practice open communication and have patience. Everybody needs a positive attitude in guest service and a sprinkling of resilience. We all need to lead by example.

  - Building strong relationships with clients
  We make it our business to know our clients inside and out. We want to understand our clients’ needs and anticipate their expectations. We learn our clients’ ethos and brand values so we can be ambassadors – often we’re the first face-to-face encounter a guest might have with that brand so it’s important we’re aligned and promote a positive, helpful, and friendly environment to ensure they leave with a great impression.

  For us, our job is to make people’s lives easier and to make them happy. We love what we do and there’s nothing we like more than seeing the positive impact we have on our clients and their guests. But don’t just take our word for it.

What makes great customer service? We asked our Portico People

Shani Clark - ‘Strong welcomes, eye contact and always being keen to assist.

Sue Saddique - ‘Creating a warm, positive experience for the client, greeting them by name or remembering some details from their last visit, engaging in light conversation. A smile can make a big difference to someone’s day. Anticipating the client’s needs and acting on these. Offering a 5-star service [going above and beyond] to all clients regardless of status. always Remaining Professional.’

Kasia Rydel - ‘The key to great customer service is building relationships with our customers. Promoting a positive, helpful, and friendly environment and ensuring they leave with a great impression. Remembering and appreciating repeat customers, I always follow the three P’s professionalism, patience, and a “people-first” attitude.’