How do we improve the service we provide our customers? We ask them. We send out electronic surveys, we have in-person conversations and we read the reviews that are posted on the various online sites. Then we respond.
In addition to our vision of who we are, we fine-tune that vision with the feedback from our customers. There is nothing matter-of-fact about this; it is not always easy to listen, and hear what someone is saying about the service you provide, without taking it personally. And it is not possible to provide a heartfelt service without being a contributor.
Several years ago I was in conversation with a friend and I noticed that frequently she would end her sentences with “right?!” This could have been easily replaced with the Canadian “eh”, or the often used “you know”, but at the time, her use of right really stuck with me. I wondered if she actually needed to have confirmation that we agreed with what she was saying and if this was an insight into her psyche. As soon as I noticed this speech pattern in her I also noticed it in myself, and found that I, at some level, wanted confirmation from those with whom I spoke.
Our society is geared for the need to be right and therefore there is a possibility to be wrong. We test our kids from the time they start school. In fact I remember sitting through a parent-teacher conference when my son was in Pre-K; the teacher explained how wrong it was that my son was not coloring between the lines. “Why was that important?” we asked. “That was the “right” way”, she responded. We want to be right in an argument, vote for the right candidate, and choose the right school, job, partner, or meal.
What would it mean if we were “wrong”? Or, worried less about being “right”? My theory is; we could have a varied experience of others, an open dialogue, and a rich experience of what surrounds us. We could be open to the multi levels of expression of any given situation. Our capacity to stay in the moment would be strengthened, giving us a fuller, more satisfied experience.
But the pull to be right is strong; we equate not knowing with fear. This could be a bit messy, and uncomfortable, but it could also be a place of discovery, freedom and creativity.
When I look at my online reviews or the electronic surveys, I find myself holding my breath as I read and hope for totally positive feedback. Of course this is not realistic. When the reviewer has a complaint or a suggestion I need to step away from my ego and step into the experience of the reviewer. I take a couple of breaths; plant my feet on the ground and remind myself that these comments can help us hone our skills, that they don’t represent us in our entirety, and are not a representation of right or wrong. It is a part of our evolving service and hotel, we will never “arrive” or be everything to everyone. What we can be is open, responsive, available, and willing not to be “right!?”