Trust in the Hotel Biz

Leo Bottary, author of blog Client Service Insights, has a great interview with Jonathan Tisch, the current generation CEO and Chairman of Loews Hotels. 

CSI: How do you build a team and create a culture that cares about great service as much as you do?

JT: At Loews we have a people skills training program called Living Loews. It’s vital that leaders get their teams to focus their attention on their guests. Once all your employees have a customer-centric mindset, all the other pieces of the business will fall into place. We find our employees enjoy their jobs more when they understand that their role is to help and please others.

CSI: If there’s one takeaway you’d like people to grasp after reading your book, what would it be? Is there an over-arching aha?

JT: Absolutely. Too often we think of business as the sale. But no customer wants to be sold to. They want great experiences. The more we think of giving our customers experiences that feel special, the more customer loyalty and profits will follow.

Tisch gets it. I can’t speak to how well his tens of thousands of employees have yet gotten it, but with that message coming from the top, the odds are good.

It’s not easy to achieve escape velocity from the gravitational pull of self-serving corporate beliefs.  We live in a business culture that celebrates short-term metrics and behaviors all centered around improving financial performance—of the corporation.  The purpose of business, we have been taught, is to create profits and beat other businesses.  Never mind whether you agree about the goal—it’s becoming so 20th century. 

Not too many leaders have the discipline and the savvy to remember that a heavy hand on client service and a light hand on company profitability has a paradoxical result—heavy profitability for both company and customer.

The world simply works better when companies, and people, focus on serving their clients and customers, rather than focusing on competing with each other, or on seeing their clients as sources of profitability for their own ends.

No one wants to be treated as means to another’s ends.  Yet that is the dogma most of us have been taught, where “loyalty” means spiff programs, and “customer-centricity” is code for “profit-for-us.”

If you do well by your customer, your customer will do well by you.

What a concept.

Here’s to Tisch.