A new season for service

New customer service standards from Four Seasons demonstrate how a simple plan, if executed well, is often the best solution.
A new season for service
By Chris Jackson
Mon 17 Mar 2008 04:52 PM

It started with a pineapple juice, and it left me very impressed.

Sometimes the hospitality industry in the Middle East can give you cabin pressure, with all the new companies launching, new properties opening, and eternal promises of "our service standards will set us apart from the competition".

While new companies and new properties are obviously easy to get excited about, in the main the service aspect has not been known as a clearly distinguishing feature of Middle Eastern properties (at least, not to the extent that a property such as the Raffles in Singapore has been able to achieve on an international level).

Recently, however, I had cause to be seriously impressed by service levels at a Middle East-based hotel.

The team at the Four Seasons Hotel Doha invited me to be their guest, in part to reveal how their new customer service standard will be applied across the company's properties worldwide.

Using the phrase "get it right, get me right, wow me if you can", the new standards essentially urge staff to get the basic service details right, understand their guests' needs, and then empowers staff members to go the extra step to ‘wow' guests.

Front office management trainee Cecile Cabaret told me that the new standards were in part a process of formalising the behaviour that many Four Seasons staff already exhibit, but it was clear that these changes were a bit different to some of the others handed down by head offices in hotel companies. Staff were actually excited about it.

And indeed it was the attention to the little details - such as offering glasses of pineapple juice with each meal after they realised my unhealthy appetite for all things sweet - which went a long way to ‘wowing' me.

Of course, a simple glass of pineapple juice does not create an entire guest experience, but it was - to mix fruit metaphors - the cherry on top.

As mentioned previously, many hotels have been quick to point to their service levels as something that will help them stand out from the crowd, but the Four Seasons Hotel Doha has been able to do what few others in the region have managed: to not only talk the talk, but deliver on their promises.

For a full wrap up of the changes to the Four Seasons' standards, see the April 2008 issue of Hotelier Middle East.

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