BTA starts business service standards scheme
Mystery shoppers will be used to check up on businesses to see if they are meeting new national service standards for hospitality and customer service.
They will assess businesses on five principals of service — welcoming, engaging, delivery, promoting and accountability.
A winning, welcoming approach involves customer-facing staff smiling, making eye contact and giving a courteous greeting.
Likewise, using positive body language and active listening while engaging with visitors and customers, and offering to guide them so they can find what they are looking for, if done correctly and with passion and authenticity will be viewed positively by scorers for the National Service Standard Certificates.
Businesses that meet or surpass the required score will be given a certification seal that can be used on all marketing and promotional materials, including advertising, signage and social media.
The certificates will be dated for the relevant year, and will be renewed annually if a business continues to meet the assessment threshold as scored by trained mystery shoppers.
The standards are not arbitrary. It has taken a year for the Bermuda Tourism Authority and tourism stakeholders, working together, to identify important areas that can make all the difference to a visitor seeking a sense of value and a ‘feel good experience’ while in Bermuda.
Karla Lacey, chief operating officer with the BTA, said it was significant that the standards were not handed down to the industry, but had been identified as what they wanted for themselves.
A pilot scheme, featuring ten businesses, is under way. Bermuda Restaurant Group, Lindo’s, the LF Wade International Airport and Snorkel Park are among the businesses involved.
“This is an incredible opportunity to receive feedback and training on how we present our brand — and the Bermuda brand — to the world,” said Alexandra Mosher, of Alexandra Mosher Studio Gallery, which is also part of the pilot group.
“With the help of the National Service Standards Programme we can measurably sharpen up service areas that need improvement and remain accountable to national standards in the future.”
The certification process involves a dual approach. There is an internal assessment of the business, with senior management and employees giving their view of what level they are at in terms of the five principals of service. From this, any gaps are identified and addressed through training and suggestions from the BTA.
The BTA expects to offer some broad-based training, while pointing businesses to specific training opportunities elsewhere.
Trained mystery shoppers conduct the second part of the assessment, to see what level of service a business and its employees are giving to customers.
The service principals must be exhibited by employees who deal with customers, including business owners and managers tasked with creating the work environments where such service levels are possible.
It is expected the pilot group will be assessed in March and those meeting the national service standards will be awarded certification in April.
In March, the programme will be opened up to all businesses. Ms Lacey said: “Businesses are excited about pursuing certification because they know it will be a powerful motivation force for their staff and a valuable marketing tool for their business.”
She said that for a visitor, the standards certification would act to assure them that they can expect a consistently high standard of service.
Companies and organisations can expect increased business because they will be able to promote themselves as meeting the national standards, and customers are likely to gravitate towards businesses where they know they can expect the best level of service.
Ms Lacey said the national services standards would benefit Bermuda residents, who would also encounter consistent and elevated levels of service.
Of the programme, she said: “It has been an intense and massive undertaking. Many businesses have provided their time and input unselfishly. We have tried to touch all parts of the tourism industry chain, and there has been broad participation with no push back.”
Russ Ford, president of Bermuda Transit Services, said: “Any opportunity to enhance my business is welcomed. This is exactly what Bermuda’s hospitality industry needs so that we can fulfil the desires of locals and overseas guests alike. Thanks to the BTA and the Hospitality Institute for their leadership and vision.”
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