4 Customer Service Lessons from the world renown Grove Park Inn & Spa

My family just came back from spending two full months of our summer in the mountains of Asheville, NC.

We are lucky to have the freedom to do that and even luckier to have had the opportunity to spend a full day at the world-renown Grove Park Inn & Spa.

Beyond being immersed in complete and utter luxury, the service level of this world-class facility was off the charts.

Below are 4 service pillars that The Grove Park Inn & Spa taught me that you can apply in your business.  I should mention that failure to engage these strategies will result in you being (or remaining) ORDINARY. Don’t be ordinary.

Ordinary means you’re a commodity, just like every other loan originator out there, which means you absolutely won’t get past clients and referral sources sending you referral in droves that don’t cost you any money!

 

1.  Take 100% responsibility for the entire customer experience.

From the moment we walked through the front door until the moment we walked out, our entire experience was managed.  Nothing was left to chance.

It’s like they have a customer service brain trust that meets weekly and asks the question, “What does the customer want and expect and how can we already have it waiting for them and exceed their expectations?”

For example, when a customer walks through the door they are greeted and led to the front desk.  The front desk personnel has the personality of the quintessential airline stewardess and makes you feel like you just got home – to your house – that now has a world-class staff waiting on you.

Then you fill out a brief form so they can properly manage your treatment experience, and while that’s happening someone serves you snacks and offers you a cold beverage, and while that’s happening the manager introduces himself and asks if you have any special needs and welcomes you, and then at just the right time a brand new person with a smile is standing by waiting to give you a brief tour, answer any questions, and leave you to enjoy the facility and they will come find you 15 minutes before your treatment appointment.

Then you enter the spa.

All of this happens like clockwork for each and every customer and none of it happens by accident.

The question for you is: how can you make people feel totally safe and completely taken care of from start to finish?

Start by asking the question from earlier, “What does the customer want and expect and how can we already have it waiting for them and exceed their expectations?”

How do you greet them?  What’s the script for the first interaction?

What’s the next step?  What do they expect and how can you already have that in place?

Where and whom do they contact 24/7 with questions or concerns?

How often do you update them?

How much do you explain and what do you omit so they feel well educated but not over-whelmed?

How do you ask for their appraisal payment method and when?

What is the communication strategy if a deal gets rejected?

How do you manage the closing experience?

These are key questions you need to answer, document and give regular thought to in order to manage the experience from start to finish.  Block time in your calendar; bring in your colleagues, put together your own brain trust and brainstorm how to anticipate and manage every step of the client experience.

 

2.  Over-communicate

When in doubt, over-communicate.

When I met with 72 realtors in 4 months to build my business, guess what the #1 complaint was that they had with respect to mortgage originators?

Poor communication with both the realtor and the borrower.

At The Grove Park Inn, the staff wear little earpieces wired to a microphone so when customers are about to move from one area to the next, they’re greeted by someone that is ready to guide them, personally.

From the front desk, to the men’s change area, to the spa facility, to the treatment rooms, to the gift shop, to the restaurant.  Every one knew my name and acted, genuinely, like they knew me.

It always made me feel safe, welcome and special.

What about your customers?  Are they getting random calls from pre-processors, processors, underwriters, compliance officers, managers, assistants or anyone else?

Do customers know who’s on your team and what their roles are when they’ll be contacting them and why?  They should.

Identify your team to your borrower and manage the expectation of who may interact with them and why.  Then train your team (even if it’s just 1 processor) to communicate gently, efficiently, and confidently.  Script them if need be.  Practice the script.  Regularly.

It was clear that the staff at The Grove Park Inn & Spa practiced their communication.  You should too.

 

3.  Be the best at what you do (or aspire to be)

The Grove Park Inn & Spa is considered one of the best spa experiences in the world.  They’ve won awards to that effect.

In speaking with the manager, that’s what they talk about to their staff.  Their goal is to be the BEST spa in the world by offering the best overall experience to the customer.

They’re succeeding because in my experience, every one of their staff members handled their role with precision. The front desk person, the therapist, the manager, the restaurant staff, the change area staff, the facility managers, the cleaning crew.  Everyone.

Ask yourself: are you the BEST at what you do?  Is your staff offering the best possible experience? Where do you need to grow and evolve?  What about your staff?

Take some time to think about where you and your staff can improve and set forth a plan to do so.  And start with this question: how can we offer the very best possible mortgage experience from start to finish, in the world?

 

4.  Make it easy for people to come back

A spa experience versus getting a mortgage is obviously not an apples to apples comparison, but the principles around customer experience still apply.

When it comes to getting people to come back and use your services, there are two considerations: 1) if the overall experience is fantastic, people will naturally want to come back; 2) how people exit the experience and are followed up with has a major impact on repeat and referral business.

Upon check out at the Grove Park Inn & Spa, the front desk staff seamlessly captured our information and asked strategic questions about how often we’ll be in town, inquired about our lifestyle, learned the demographics of our family and so on and so forth.

Again, none of this was an accident.  We left with a gorgeous gift-basket of branded spa accessories that remind us of our experience every time we use their shower gel, lotion or coffee mugs, and we came back to Orlando with a hand-written thank you note waiting for us in the mailbox.

We also just received our first email letting us know about a special opportunity to drop our kids at the Inn pool while we come for a discounted spa offer.  Smart, targeted, marketing.

The questions for you are, what is the exit experience for your customers?  How is the closing managed?  Do you attend closing?  What is your closing gift?  How do you stay in touch afterwards?  How can you relevantly stay in your customer’s life?

If you manage the client’s experience well and offer superior post-closing service, you make it easy for them to come back and to refer you.

So what’s your next step?  Pick just one of the 4 service pillars offered here.  Copy the questions I pose onto a clean document and schedule a meeting with your staff.

Create your “customer experience brain trust.”  Meet with your staff and anyone else (inviting your top realtor(s) is a GREAT idea because it will force them to think about the same things for their business) and have a brainstorm session.

Answer the questions, assign responsibilities, implement.  Then do it again for the remaining three pillars.

Go ahead and schedule it right now…what are you waiting for?  Don’t let this one slide because creating an unforgettable customer experience is the lowest-cost way to generate referrals that come organically and often from past clients who want to help you.  Why?  Because you made them feel safe, welcomed and special.

 

 

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