What's next in service for the hospitality industry, a culture of care: Jan Smith at TEDxTemecula



fresh out of high school infused with way too much wanderlust and independence I decided that I would travel a bit before I had a knuckle down to go to college so I ended up on the island paradise of Maui Hawaii and I rented a room from a family that had lived on the island for generations and immediately they took me in like I was family and they didn't know me and I didn't know them but they were just so hospitable and caring and I watched over about a year of living with them how they shared that culture of care and that sharing and that servant heart with their friends their family their community and their workplace and they explained to me that it was their essence of Ohana which in the hawaiian culture is really the definition of taking care of family and it aligns itself so beautifully with the concept of hospice of hospitality which is the act of care and welcoming a visitor guest or stranger and I was a stranger in their home they didn't know who I was but we'd never know that because they were so ingrained this family there were three generations of family living in the home and with me there were eight of us in this very teeny tiny home with one bathroom so we were very cozy but they were so respectful to everyone that they encountered and I didn't know it then but I definitely know it now it was the introduction for me in a world of hospitality and a journey of my career and I can remember early on being at the kitchen table for breakfast and I was looking out the window at there at their home and through the window I could see these beautiful papaya trees and I was commenting how I had never seen anything like that before I know it out of the corner of my eye I see the little one that could have been much more than about four years old at the time scurrying up this tree and coming back with several papayas and his hand and from there on I had fresh papaya almost every morning now that's a sense of caring in a little teeny tot but it was all through that family so I posed the question can a culture of care change the service industry and yes it can because care is at the core of every service initiative and when we think about it that's the relationship between a guest and a customer and how critical that is first we have to care for the employee so they can care for the customer so yes it absolutely can so I always marvel at it why we often are in the service environment and we see things fall flat or fall short not too long ago I was at a restaurant with some friends and we sat down quickly they were very efficient to get a seated but then we watched the server go back and forth and just kind of buzz by our table she didn't ever look our way she didn't acknowledge us and finally when she came to our table this is what she said are you guys ready to order it wasn't hi my name is or welcome to this restaurant it was just an efficiency and that's how it went through the whole meal it's very efficient but it fell flat because there was no engagement no friendliness there was no relationship that would have been developed and for all of us at the table who had never been to the restaurant before we kind of walked away not so impressed not with the product but with the service so you wonder how does that happen at least I walked off wondering two things about this particular server one I wonder why someone so grumpy would choose to be in a career that required them to have a relationship with the customer and two I wonder why she's so grumpy because in the workplace as employers we are receiving people who have baggage they come to our workplace and they have all kinds of emotions they have all kinds of feelings but as an employer in the service and hospitality industry it's important that we bottle that culture of care with them first to recognize them as human beings to realize that they do have emotions they bring into the workplace but to set the high standards of service because that relationship between customer and employee is so critical especially to retain a customer in today's world so I had to look and think now who does this really well and I thought back to my days at the Walt Disney Company and I realized they are a master at creating that relationship between guest and employee and regardless of how anybody felt coming into the work day you had to check it at the door because for for that organization you were on stage and when you were on stage you had another persona didn't matter if you had a flat tire if you had a fight with someone you know in the household that day you got there and you had a smile on your face and that creates the environment especially in the service industry so I want to talk about service and hospitality because it's definitely you know what I have made a lifelong passion out of and a career choice and it's a great career choice for everyone whether you're brand new in the business they are high school or not sure what they want to do and they want to get into something hospitality and service is great because it gives them an opportunity to work with the public and the intensity that comes with the service and hospitality industry in this industry it is strong in fact the October job report just came out and in the nation there were 53 thousand jobs added in the hospitality and service industry that's fantastic news right because we've gone through some tough years but this is good news and in 2014 the hospitality and service industry anticipates great growth right now there's about 8% of the American workforce that works in the hospitality industry so it's healthy and it will continue to be healthy in our own community here we see openings of restaurants and reach sale and wineries casinos dining lodging and resorts but the service industry even goes a little bit further than that because anytime you have a relationship where you're trying to get something from your in your customer or to the employee that's service so it could be where you have your nails done or you have your car fixed or on the phone trying to deal with an issue and if we cannot as employers of this industry model a culture of care how could we ever expect that our employees can push that out to the customer it's real critical it's critical but we know that we have to have happy engaged and interested employees working in this industry but we know that that doesn't always always happen now what's really interesting about the demographics of trying to hire in this industry is that just in 2013 the American workplace report came out indicated that 70% of the respondents said they were not happy with their jobs they were disengaged and disinterested now that's not a formula for success when you come to the hospitality industry because it's the consumer you get that on the other end of with the example I gave of the server who just didn't really seem to care so there's some remedy to this though that's the same respondent said look if my company would just pay attention to the strengths that I bring to the organization help me grow a little bit in their organization also what I contribute I mean there's always accomplishments to to any employee and if an organization notes those accomplishments and then takes care of them their well-being that that happiness level would go up and I think that's true but 70% that's 7 out of 10 so we have to do better in that regard there is a return on investment though with those companies that understand a culture of care because when that's implemented and the employer is really paying attention to their their staff they get a higher employee engagement which means more customer service higher levels of productivity because we all know when you're not happy with your work you kind of slack off a little bit and you don't give it at all give it your all and then most importantly a culture of care can it can have a result a resolution of having stronger employee retention and stronger customer retention so let's think about that employee retention for a minute the cost of turnover is expensive and employers know that it's tough to get the right person in place but it's even tougher to keep them in place so there's a turnover factor that employers want to watch very carefully because it's just it's a bottom-line cost to their company in addition a retaining a customer I don't even know how you put a value on that but if you're as in the service industry and you get somebody through your door you want them to come back it's 90 percent of the consumers that go elsewhere go elsewhere because they did not have a good experience it's 90 percent that you might be losing out your door so it's critical to have that culture of care implemented in your organization so what does this look like when I'm talking about culture of care let me give you a scenario if you're a manager out today in the audience if you're a manager we know that's a tough job it's time sometimes thankless but let's just say in this case we have a manager and he has a stellar staff he's been very happy with all of them and he has had the same team for years and one in particular has been fantastic a single mom she's tried extra hard because she likes her job and she's happy with everything about it but the manager has observed over the last several months that this employee is calling in sick she's not showing up or she's showing up late but he doesn't want to bother he doesn't want to ask her what's going on so he's leaving it alone hoping it will go away but we all know these things don't naturally go away on their own so he's getting more and more frustrated and one final callin he just its Fester's he's had enough he kicks it up to human resources and he says you take care of the problem just fire her now in human resources we see this often the employee or the managers just getting a little too angry at the employee so Human Resources called that employee in and sits her down and asks a pretty simple question what's going on what's causing your performance to slip you're a great employee what is happening so the employee takes a deep breath and she says recently I've had to take my elderly dad into my home he's has advanced stages of dementia and I'm the only one in the family that can handle him so I brought him into my home but to pay for that care I'm now working Saturday and Sunday I've gotten another job as well as this job in addition my middle schooler is being so tormented and bullied in school and I'm absolutely I don't know what to do with that I'm so frustrated and so I'm back and forth to the school administration trying to handle the situation because it's so scary and not that I needed another cloud burst but my car's transmission blew last month and I've just been scrambling to get to work to get to my son to get to take care of my dad one of my first employers in Human Resources told me something profound be kind because everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle and I believe that to be true every single one of us to some degree and employers have to consider what's going on with their employees if they want to implement a culture of care and if it had been implemented in this situation the manager would not have been frustrated as much as he was and the employee would not have been left to be disengaged and disinterested wondering I wonder why after all all these years working for this business no one even cared to ask what was going on you see we cannot have unhappy disengaged disinterested people working on frontline as our service ambassadors because your product may get them through the door originally right we all have a product but guess what our product has competition we almost all of us have some type of competition so service is the differentiating factor to not only getting a customer through the door but keeping a customer through the door critical absolutely so I want to share with you a story about how a company locally has implemented a culture of care effectively this is a local service industry they've been in our community for about five years and before they even opened their door I had a chance to meet with the owners and they said to me they were going to do something a little bit different they were going to ensure that that their employees understood they were valued in their organization so the company owners decided to pay a little bit more in a wage they gave him a great opportunity if they wanted to stay with the organization to grow and they gave him a great work environment and to this day they do some fun little perks like give a fully-stocked break room now one would say what does that matter it just reinforces that sense of Ohana in that sense that you know this is these are not just my employees they are valued to me and I'll tell you something it's worked because this year this particular service organization was named the number one clinic out of 600 in the nation now that doesn't come by happenstance that comes by an organization valuing their most important asset their employee Mary Catherine Beatson a cultural anthropologist once said caring can be learned by every employee every individual can be weaved into the design of every life to meet an individual need or a pervasive need in society so can a culture of care change the service industry yes it can by beings of better employee engagement stronger customer service levels higher levels of productivity and increased retention of employees and customers a company's commitment to the essence of Ohana and hospitality will change the service industry thank you

21 thoughts on “What's next in service for the hospitality industry, a culture of care: Jan Smith at TEDxTemecula

  1. Sad to see, that of the 79k views, very few people share an opinion with this topic. I highly agree with the thesis and believe such an approach to care, from management, will trickle down and positively reflect from their employees or constituents. In the same city, go to a Costco and go to a Walmart and i bet that you're going to get a hundred times better service at Costco then you ever would at Walmart. If that doesn't sound crazy Walmart employees roughly 1.4 million people in the US which is 1% of the labor force of roughly 140 million. Over 50% of Walmart employees qualify for government Aid. No one can sincerely say that these are happy people and they are passing their Happy Feelings down to their customers and then these customers who carry those feelings throughout their day infect others who weren't directly involved. That's because the business world revolves around a cyclical relationship between the employer, the employee and the customer. Whether they do or don't, I'm not saying these types of Corporations directly control the functions of society but it is certain that they play a major role with influencing societal behaviors. The underlying point to all of this is quality of life. When your work gets you nothing and you still need aid from the government just to survive how can you ever live? Sadly that happens to most people living well within their means while neglecting basic necessities just to survive. Why should senior citizens have to choose between their medication and paying the electric bill? As we advance with technology and wealth concentrates to the few who hold it, people are going to be required to carry on new hardware and services for them that they used to not need which furthermore afflicts their budgets. A good example is cell phones and internet service. If you're in a city, travel along the state or the country and see how poor people really are. Tell me, what store you see in those poor towns? Then ask yourself what happens to a town of citizens that tries to unionize a labor force because of that store. We vote with our dollars and as cliche as it may sound, from every wise grandparent out there whomever said, " spend it wisely." I'd rather put money in the hands of people willing to do good with it rather than burning the world, or is a discount/deal really worth it?

  2. Yes and no. If you want care I say Airbnb or an exclusive 5 star resort only. But thats always why the industry has a hard time competing against Airbnb. With Airbnb's you can talk to the owner, learn the culture and he/she can accommodate your needs, so its a higher level of interaction. With an exclusive resort the people are paid better then average so they pretend to care. In all other cases expect it to be a race for the bottom line with property owners only interested in revenue and full of high turnover indifferent employees.

  3. Awesome Jan! It is so easy for Type A's to see inefficiencies as blockers to be removed. Good insight that the faster and cheaper solution is to do the right thing!

  4. She covers the basics of hospitality and motivates you to go the extra mile..You can't fake passion! And yes, care for the employee is how it starts, many managers don't know how to do that, nor owners…

  5. They want robots now days in hospitality industry. Upper management doesn't give a rats azz what's going on in your personal life just as long as you keep the scores up so they can get they're bonuses while U get $10.00 an hr doing it. Been the biz for 23 yrs and it's nothing like it use to be.

  6. Thanks for this video Jan! I totally agree with your philosophy of care. It is true that as employee you need to feel first integrated and accepted in the company (your second home) in order to welcome your customers with care. In my opinion, welcoming customers at one company has to be the same as welcoming your private guests at home in terms of you are for them 100 % there. You try your best during their stay and at the end of the day you have the feeling that they spent a great time with you right?

  7. Man, I can spot an "act" from a server from a mile away. The problem with mordern service industry is that hardly anyone is genuine now. The best service I ever received was by a girl who passed by my table, said Hi, her name, and gave me some menus and told me she'd be back in a few with waters all while maintaining eye contact and a neutral smile. There was no BS, no fake How-You-Doing, no small talk, just got the job done fast and effeciently. This whole "act" thing so highly praised by the speaker and cooperate really have no idea what proper service is.

  8. I had a sales career for almost 7 years, and now just shifted to hospitality industry particularly in restaurant service for more than 6 months now, i look at it as similar because care for customer is at the core of the job, but i would like to ask does my career change really worth it or i just wasted it?

  9. Thank you for sharing this video. I am totally agree with your philosophy of caring workers to give the best from them to customers.
    Reading other comments about the video I realised they didn't understand that caring involves everything. Wage, helping them to grow proffesionally, motivation, listening to them… everything that make them love their job

  10. Maybe I missed something, but this lady worked for Disney and goes out to eat. Now she's in human resources working for herself. Why is she commenting on how restaurants should handle their employees? As her example its a exemplary employee and a single mom, working 7 days a week caring for a bullied middle schooler and a father with dementia that caused her performance to slip. The manager has worked with her for years and is a great manager, but has no interest in the employees and how he can make their performance better… but he's a great manager thats known her for years. Why not say she's also minority who is crippled and has a unicorn horn on her head? Let's change the whole industry cuz I had crappy service at lunch (which we never got into why that person had a bad performance other than they didn't start a relationship with their table…shame on you Jan Smith for not reaching out to this person! Maybe she's efficient to deal with a family members medical problem…) and theoretically talked to someone who needed a bit of help.

  11. I am a part of this industry for almost 20 years, i started when i was 16 and now im 34, was working in 5 different countries in 2 continets, and i disagree with almost everything she says, the only thing i agree with is that u should be kind to ppl u work with, in reasonable amount! To me she looks like a person that would complain that sun is to hot, there is to much sand on the beach, the ocean is to cold… !! Fake smiles are shit, give ppl decent wages and u will see how ur hotel, restaurant, night club, coffe shop… will start blooming!

  12. I work at the service industry, and most of the times going the extra mile is not the best idea, most of the times, there is not a bad customer service, there are BAD customers, who misunderstand the meaning of customer service, by asking some dumb things, so being flat and efficient is sometime the best option

  13. not everyone is so needy thats lame its always the needed broads that are spewing this nonsense, i just want it efficiant and I know alot of others do to, i dont want a relashionship from my waitress lol are you kidding me? but I think its more of a ego complex, some people need attention and get to little in other aspects of life now they look for it from a waiter lol, this lady is one of those cornballs, I want a good and good priced poduct not a life story from a stranger lol, also this is just lip servive from wannabe leaders

  14. Hi good day… can i ask the whole lets say your script or speech coz i need to memorize the way you talk the way to pronounce the word everything.. just for the play for school..

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