September 7, 2018

One of our top 10 service concepts is thinking of service as hospitality like you were entertaining guests in your home. This is how Danny Meyer the great restaurateur thinks of service. I like this concept as it elevates the “service” to more of an art form and one of engagement with a client versus just serving them.

When looking up the word “hospitality” one will find words like…friendliness, hospitableness, warm reception, welcome, helpfulness, neighborliness, warm, kindness, congeniality, cordiality, courtesy, amenability, generosity, entertainment…

You’ll find things like, “Hospitality is the relationship between a guest and a host wherein the host receives the guest with goodwill including the reception and entertainment of guests, visitors or strangers.”  I like that it includes “strangers” as well as friends.  Shouldn’t we treat everyone with the same level of hospitality?

But maybe the loftiest definition of hospitality I found was by the French scholar Louis de Jaucourt who was a contributor to the Encylopedie in the 18th century. Jaucourt defines hospitality as: “The virtue of a great soul that cares for the whole universe through the ties of humanity.”

Service as a “virtue?”  

A theme of this blog is looking at our jobs in service as more than just doing mundane tasks for customers.  Hospitality is serving others but with a different perspective. How does this relate to handing out clothes at a dry cleaner?  That is for each and every one of us to discover in our own style but, it’s not just about handing out clothes. That’s the message.  

I recently circulated a great TED talk by John DiJulian on the topic of service.  He used the acronym FORD to summarize the four things people care about most and like to talk about.

F  is for family and usually the most important thing in anyone’s life.
O is for occupation and the place where most of us spend the majority of our time.
R  is for recreation and it’s something we are passionate about or like to do in our spare time.
D  Is for dreams and what we hope for in our future.

Understanding that these areas of one’s life are most important to them changes the perspective of how you view them whether in conversation or in servicing them.  

An example of this was given to me yesterday while I was discussing the role of management to our HomeCare manager, UB.  I was asking him about a tiny pair of Ugg boots that had been lying around for more than the usual production time which usually indicates a problem.  He said casually, that we had some problems with them in the cleaning but we called the customer to let her know.

I said those aren’t just about of leather boots, they belong to a small child who is the most important thing in the world to that customer.  They are willing to spend money on cleaning these tiny little boots because they adore them on their precious child. We then started to talk about UB’s little girl and what she meant to him and all of the sudden the boots took on a different level of importance on how we treated them and the service toward our customer.    

I think this is a good example for the topic of “hospitality” because we can stretch the idea on how it applies outside our home with guests and to a service where you often don’t see the customer.