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Customer service in globalisation – The real cost of saving money – Part 1

Several companies, especially in the hospitality sector try to cut costs by minimising trainings for the staff. They are likely to train their managers who are supposed to pass on the knowledge, however this does not happen in reality due to the fast-paced nature of business. BUT. Your frontline employees are the ones who meet your customers, they are the first point of contact, they represent your company and brand. They deliver the service which is ultimately your business and reputation! Do you really think the ‘keep smiling and say yes to everything’ approach is enough?

Globalisation is one of the major trends of the previous 20 years and has affected many aspects of the world’s development. The hospitality industry is no longer considered domestic, but rather global or cross-border in the process of globalisation. A hotel is more likely to deliver quality service successfully when customers think hotel employees can understand them better. There are a number of intercultural training programmes available on the market but most are generally for multicultural companies and they normally target specific cultures or countries. In an increasingly globalised business environment, efficient communication is the key to success in global competition. However, there are many cultural differences, such as different beliefs, attitudes, and customs from different cultures. These differences are becoming barriers for employees’ effective communication and employers’ successful management. Therefore, building up employees’ cross cultural awareness and supplying cross cultural training need to be on the decision makers’ agendas. Lack of cross cultural awareness could result in an unhappy customer and frustrated employees so when you think about cutting cost by putting on less staff on a shift or saving hours on training, consider the additional cost of recruiting another employee if the current ones leave and think about the real price tag of losing a customer due to poor service…bad reviews, bad reputation and let’s be honest, they have enough options to choose from where they feel looked after…

The hotel industry is a people’s industry and a hotel must employ enough people to meet the needs of the guests, often on an around-the-clock basis. As the hospitality industry grows, a lot of hoteliers are facing the labour shortage issue of the developed world. Everyone grows up in their cultures with the belief that their cultural systems are „natural‟, „rational‟ and superior to other cultures. However, the diversity of cultures exists and, in fact, none of the cultures is superior to others. No matter what emotions exist, the reality is that people are shaped by their own cultures and this could be the cause of the cultural conflicts, and failed cross-cultural communication could bring inefficiency to an international organisation. Therefore, being intercultural and aware of cross-cultural issues is necessary, especially in those organisations whose employees largely consist of people from different countries and cultures.

People may consider themselves similar when common or shared cultural values, norms and attitudes exist. On the contrary, people may stop communicating or understanding each other when they view others to be different. Breakdowns in communication are a leading cause of conflict, and good communication skills are important to develop effective conflict solutions and negotiations.

Communicating effectively in an international organisation can be a challenge, and sometimes cultural conflicts are inevitable due to the language difficulties, different cultural values, norms and attitudes. Therefore, developing conflict management skills and international negotiation skills is very important within an organisation as well.

Managing international staff in the organisation is becoming a challenge for Human Resource Management. International human resource managers must be able to contribute to the overall international strategic planning process for the business and think strategically within their own functional area in ways that help the firm achieve its international goals. In fact, HR managers have to be involved in all of the phases of the company development and keep providing the company with well trained staff because companies with a highly trained, flexible and motivated international workforce may have an advantage over competitors, especially if that workforce directly supports corporate goals. There is a wealth of material on cross-cultural training now, but one of the difficulties is the lack of reliable sources on systematic training programmes to use in the development of a new systematic intercultural training programme for hotels.

In the next part I intend to discover the structure of an efficient training program followed by the content of it that can be rolled out within international hotel chains based on the requirements of this fast-paced industry where competency must be turned into skills. It is a system I have used to achieve 100% AA mystery diner reports with my team in luxury hotels which has resulted in being voted for Top 10 within our category in the world by Booking.com customer reviews.

Csaba Toth
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Csaba Toth

Managing Partner at ICQ Consulting
International Culture expert and researcher. Developer of the Intercultural DISC (IDISC) assessment of human behavior and interaction.
Csaba Toth
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