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Delivering good service with class and style shouldn't just happen on Downton Abbey. Every business owner has the potential to set high standards.
In the first-ever Class & Style Issue of LCT Magazine this month, we highlight some of the key components of first class/five-star level chauffeured transportation companies. The thinking goes that a luxury limousine service should inhabit the same strata as Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton, Gulfstream and an Admirals Club airport lounge.
But once you get beyond the vehicles, the service, the black suits, the attention and style, you are left with the deepest differentiator of true class: Character. That’s a broad term now in our present culture, which underscores how much it is needed. Character embodies the manners, the values and ethics that define a person or company. You really are not what you drive, but how you behave.
So before a business investor or entrepreneur can buy all the gadgets, equipment and amenities, there needs to be a substantive set of standards and vision. I recently spoke with an expert industry marketer, entrepreneur, sales strategist and etiquette expert, Robin Wells, for some insights.
“It’s an old saying, but culture eats strategy for lunch,” says Wells, whose businesses, including a marketing firm and Etiquette Manor consulting, are based in Miami. “If you don’t have a corporate culture that is squared up, the strategy will fail.”
Wells outlines a logical sequence for good service character: If you know who your clients are, then you know who you are, and can define your brand. Then, you can set your standards geared toward your clients, and train your employees to deliver on those standards. That creates a high, consistent quality of service that will resonate with clients, keep them coming back, and attract new ones.
“People will always come back for service and pay more for quality service if they can’t get it elsewhere,” Wells says. “It starts at the top and is trickled down to employees with quality training programs.” She compares such programs to a business script, with employees chosen as the actors who will represent your company.
Her sequence for success all goes back to one critical skill: Listening. Listen to your clients, your employees, your vendors and your affiliates. Solid company character spans all of those groups, not just the customers. “Listen to what they are saying and try to put yourself in their position,” she says. “You need to be considerate across the board, consistently. That gives your brand a good image. If you are not consistent, then you will lose in the end. Leading by example is huge.”
That especially applies when handling conflicts, whether with a disgruntled client or a payment dispute with an affiliate. “You need to resolve issues in a considerate and positive fashion, and not bring things down to [a lower] level. When you are dealing with money, people show their true colors.” And what if the other party is unreasonable and rude? If you’ve been wronged, move on and make sure you are only fooled once, she says.