January 24th, 2021

Creating comfort in service industry

By Submitted Article on March 17, 2020.

Etiquette’s main focus is to create comfortable situations for us and those we share our world with. Through our conduct and speech, we can either make or break this goal. During a recent stay in one of our go-to hotels in Calgary, my husband and I received a card under the door from a member of the housekeeping staff. It read: “Dear Mr. & Mrs. Stewart, Thank you for staying with us. I hope you enjoyed your time with us. Please take a moment to let me know how your room’s overall cleanliness was. Your feedback is important to me. Signed Janet* Housekeeping.” I was pleasantly surprised by this gesture, and thought it interesting that Janet would go out of her way to communicate about the state of the room with us. Was it in the back of her mind that potential guests had a lot of choices available to them regarding their hotel stays? Did she understand the value of brand loyalty? Had Janet put herself in the shoes of hotel guests, who sometimes check in late at night tired, and all they want to do is crawl into a clean bed, without the concerns of whether or not the bedding has been changed? I will never know the answer to all these questions. What I know though is that Janet delivered in adding to our comfort and positive experience and cemented our loyalty, not only to the brand but more so to this particular establishment.

My hotel experience is in stark contrast to one that a friend of mine once shared with me. Lisa* enjoys shopping and finds it to be therapeutic. Her shopping trips do not always involve spending money; sometimes Lisa simply enjoys checking out the latest trends. Being a jovial person, she sometimes finds herself interacting with other shoppers. She also has an amazing rapport with staff in the stores she frequents most. Not too long ago, Lisa went shopping for specific items in one of her favourite stores. She was happy to find what she was in search for in record time, and headed to the checkout elated. With no line-up, Lisa went straight to the cashier and extended a greeting, which was received with a grunt. Deciding not to read too much into it, she made another comment about her shopping, which got her a disgusted look back. As she was leaving, Lisa light-heartedly asked the cashier if he was not amused by her comments. Apparently he looked up at her and gave her yet another disgusted look. What an awkward encounter! If I didn’t know Lisa well enough, I would have found it difficult to believe this story. Unfortunately, sometimes cashiers are having a bad day for one reason or the other and customers get the brunt of it.

A smile or pleasant countenance goes a long way when working with the public. Our goal should be to practice civility, with everyone we come into contact with.

When we are polite and agreeable, we create a comfortable environment for those we serve and ourselves. Ordinary encounters can quickly turn into elevated experiences and challenging days can become more manageable for all.

* names have been altered to keep identities private

Mable Stewart is a Lethbridge-based etiquette and image consultant. She can be contacted by email at helpfuletiquette@gmail.com.

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