Our View: Service with a smile | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: Service with a smile

Steamboat Springs is enjoying a restaurant renaissance, and visitors and locals alike are reveling in the new dining choices. New restaurants have opened in record numbers across downtown, and while the new venues are drawing diners, it's important for owners and managers to remember that it is excellent service that brings customers back.

In an editorial this winter, the Steamboat Pilot & Today praised the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association for adopting and promoting the service excellence program used by Steamboat Ski Corp. to raise the mountain's net promoter score.

This score measures how likely a person is to recommend Steamboat to their friends and family, and according to the latest survey of summer visitors conducted by the Chamber, Steamboat's score, although still high, took a dip from the last time it was measured in 2011.

In response, Chamber leaders embraced the Ski Corp.'s customer service model and conducted initial training service excellence sessions with business leaders this spring to train them how to train others. The program created for the Chamber by Ed Eppley, of Prospex, focuses on customer service at a community-wide level.

Seeing the success Ski Corp. has had with the service excellence program and the difference it's had on employee attitude and morale and customer satisfaction, we urge more local restaurants to jump on board and take advantage of the training the Chamber is offering.

We realize it can be an uphill battle for restaurants to find and keep capable and reliable help, but beyond just filling positions, we think restaurants need to focus on training as a tool for retention and an investment in good business practices.

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According to Chamber officials, 11 restaurants have taken advantage of the training to date, and there are a total of 25 dining establishments on the Chamber's radar, which means that less than half have taken advantage of the program. Some restaurants that participated in the training were skeptical at first, but by the end of the sessions, all those involved said the effort definitely was worthwhile, according to Chamber personnel.

If there's one thing that can negatively effect Steamboat's brand as a friendly, authentic, first-class resort destination, it's lousy service. Rather than accepting this style of service as "Steamboat's way," we encourage restaurants to change that bias and create new expectations for service that focus on connecting with the customer in special and memorable ways.

And instead of having to wonder how to achieve those goals, restaurants have a road map given to them in the form of service excellence training for their staff provided at no cost by the Chamber.

Again, we applaud the Chamber for championing the service excellence program and for choosing to work with the restaurant industry first. We also appreciate those restaurants who have jumped on board with the training and taken the time to offer it to their staff. In our opinion, those businesses' efforts are really paying off with noticeably improved customer service experiences that set them apart from other businesses.