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Add Customer Service to Your Life

While spending a week at Rancho la Puerta resort I decided to focus my photo eye on themes – sculptures, peaceful settings, contemplation – which all sort of ended up being folded in one category – attention to detail. Once I started to seek out the details that make the spa consistently rated as one of the best spas in the world, I realized what was really going on, and that is customer service.

daily quoteIt all started when the lens broke on my good camera before I had even taken a single picture at the Ranch. My first reaction was to assume it was my own problem to deal with, as I was “only” a guest instructor, not a paying guest. That would have been a mistake, as the Ranch staff made sure to listen, then act to find a solution. The manager told me the options, gave me a realistic time frame, and a promise to keep me up to date. I went away feeling valued (this is also a good time to let you know that all photos in this post are from my iPhone due to that broken Canon).

Ranch statuesThat interaction on Day 1 made me decide to pay close attention to instances of Customer Service:

Listen / Pay Attention

Find a Solution

Customer Feels Valued

Places and people that are excellent at customer service are easy to overlook because they make it look so natural and seamless, which means it can go unnoticed. Of course, that’s the point most of the time, right?!

Do you know & practice the two components of customer service in your life? Click To Tweet

Rancho la Puerta landscapingLook For It

Once I consciously looked for examples of customer service, I realized I was surrounded by it. Staff on the Ranch always:

say hello every time they see you; from the concierge to the landscapers

step aside to let you pass on the pathways

remember that you like butter on your oatmeal and have it ready for you

help with special requests (such as picking up a particular piñata in a town 40 miles away)

pick up trash and keep all pathways clear so it’s easy to walk, especially at night

start and end classes on time

have hot water and coffee ready in the lounge areas (you will NOT find lukewarm water that ruins your tea)

ask how they can make your stay better

take guest feedback and act on it (from the fitness program to the garden sculptures to breakfast outdoors by the Villa Pool)

One example that really helped me understand why they are so consistently ranked as #1 involved a couple who came in to the front reception to ask how to build a fire in their room’s fireplace. The staff person asked if they would prefer to have the staff light the fire, what time, and how often? She then promised to send someone every day to light their fire in the evening. She could have answered their question literally and told them how to build the fire. Instead she answered their underlying desire by arranging for a daily fire.

villa at Rancho la PuertaProvide It

That got me to wondering how I could become better at creating customer service to my clients and students. Can I smile more? Can I ask how to be helpful more often? Can I anticipate their needs? Can I provide the extra “oomph” that creates a quality experience? It turns out I can do that. It’s not about feeling subservient; it’s about working as an equal to enhance our mutual experience. I’ll give some examples, and see if you think I hit the mark.

As part of the programming, I taught the choreography for Thriller for two dance classes for guests. They asked for an extra class to really “get” the choreography. Even though I could have declined with no backlash to me, I met with the students for an extra hour. They felt valued as guests, and I got an extra hour of practice while making friends.

During an interval class with treadmills, bikes and the elliptical machine, I brought water and towels to the guests as they got thirsty and sweaty. They didn’t have to stop their workout, and I felt good knowing I was helping them reach their fitness goals.

I memorized the names of a few of the most outstanding staff members, then found their managers to let them know about their excellence (and yes, I also leave tips).

plants at Rancho la Puerta

Sometimes the most obvious things, such as being kind or doing an extra little something, are the easiest to miss or skip. Yet how you spend your time shows what you value. If I spend my time providing customer service, that aligns with the fact that I value people and kindness. Tomorrow I plan to consciously seek out at least four opportunities to provide good customer service. Eventually it might become a habit. And who knows? Maybe my little ripple in the pond will create a ripple effect that brings a bit of light to someone who has too much darkness and needs that light. Hmmm, now that brings me to the philosophical question of whether altruism is inherently selfish. But that’s for another day. For now, let us know how YOU provide excellent customer service.

Rancho la Puerta quoteAlexandra Williams, MA




Exercise Kindness

Alexandra Williams, MA

Today’s post is serious in nature, yet hopeful. You see that MA listed after my name up there? It’s for my advanced degree in Counseling, with an emphasis on Marriage and Family. I got it because I had so many fitness students come to me with issues beyond my scope and I wanted to be more informed.

Hugs are Free in Every Language

In systems theory (my type of counseling) we believe that no one operates in isolation; what one person does affects the next. We should probably call it “ripple theory.” This week I’ve seen a very sad example of these ripples. A friend of my niece’s died this week. She was only 19. She was also a twin.

A lot of people are devastated. As a friend of mine said, “This is a special kind of hell.” As a twin and a mom, I cannot fathom the amount of despair that her family feels, especially her twin, whose identity is now changed forever.

Why am I writing all this on a blog about healthy living? Because I believe that all of us have a responsibility to reach out to those who have fallen out of health, both physical and mental. You do not need to have special training to be kind, smile at others, share a hug, or just listen.

I was quoted in an article the other day as saying the one thing I always bring with me to class is a smile. This is intentional. I work with college students and people in their 80s, two groups prone to stress, loneliness and depression. When I show up to class I have no way of knowing what the students had to do just to get there. I just know that they are there and that there is something they need that they’re getting from the class. Maybe all they need is to earn a credit to graduate, but maybe it’s the one time of the week they get to see a friendly face.

Please be the friendly face when you’re on your run, or in your class, or at the weight station, or working out to a DVD while your kids play in the background. Whether you believe it or not, you are a role model. Maybe you’ll only be told once in your life that you made a huge difference to someone, but since you don’t know when that once will be, try to be kind each and every day.

One of my professors in grad school had a saying, “When people are at their most unlovable is when they need love the most.”

I’ve been hugging my kids all week long because I’m scared. Scared that I can’t keep them safe always. Scared that they’ll think the way it is in high school is the way it will always be. Scared that I can’t protect them from hurt and pain and bad accidents. But I know I’m not really supposed to do that. But what I can do is make them feel wanted.

People, go out and make someone feel wanted. As to me, I’m off to send a “love ya” text to my kids.

Photo credits: Creative Commons:  B.girlpink (Love) and  wdroops (Abracos)