A Five-Star Customer Service Training Essential: The Yearbook Principle 

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A Five-Star Customer Service Training Essential: The Yearbook Principle

Employees outside The Inn at Little Washington, a double Five Star (Forbes Travel Guide), Triple Michelin Star hotel and restaurant on the first day of Virginia's phase one reopening, May 29, 2020.

The first place someone turns to when they open a yearbook is to their own picture, as Seth Godin once pointed out. This universal phenomenon has implications for customer service, including the following five points that I share in the customer service training and training design I provide and that I encourage you to get across to all customer-facing employees.

1. When you encounter a returning customer, make it clear that you remember them, them specifically. If it’s Mrs. Smith and you recall that she’s obsessed with cats, use that knowledge to have a unique, rather than generic, interaction. Mrs. Smith herself is already thinking about her cats, and it will feel natural to her that you brought them up as well.

2. Strive to find a “golden nugget” about each customer that you can use to customize their time with you. This is a principle, in fact, of Five Star hospitality and customer service as evaluated by the Forbes Travel Guide and as practiced by all Five Star-ranked hotels and resorts. A lovely example of this, shared by Forbes Travel Guide’s Jeff Wielgopolan, is of a hotel whose room service plated carrots and greens for a little girl’s pet (stuffed) rabbit alongside the regular room service cuisine; the doorman had noticed how attached the girl was to her rabbit, “Hoppy,” and had informed the cooks and server, who took it from there.  

3. If your returning customer is one you haven’t seen/heard from in a while, make it clear to them that they were missed, that you noticed their absence and appreciate their return.

4. Don’t burden your customer with comments about other customers, or about how long your day has been. Embrace the little time the two of you–you and the customer in front of you–have together, as something unique in itself.

5. Most of all, keep your attitude fresh. Even if this is the 45th case of its kind you’ve worked on this week, to your customer it’s the only one. Strive to see it through their eyes. My favorite take on this of all time came from a bus-tour operator responding to a customer service keynote speech I was giving at a conference for SYTA (the Student and Youth Travel Association), explaining the attitude he brought to work every day

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  Saturday, June 13, 2020 at 11:56:34 PM
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  Tuesday, January 5, 2021 at 7:50:15 AM
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