16th Feb 2017
Beacham has been part of the team at Woodland Grange since 2004 when she joined
this award winnning Warwickshire venue as assistant duty restaurant manager.
Her career has progressed considerably since then in line with the development
and growth of the venue. Now overseeing food & beverages, housekeeping and
reception, and with responsibility for 18 staff, Debbie has a clear vision of
what great customer service means to the business.
What qualities do you need for your role?
Flexibility, patience and the ability to read customers’ and my team’s needs and wants are essential qualities for any management role. Everyone is different, and people respond differently to particular styles of management. It’s about knowing what makes them tick and what motivates them so I change my management style to suit individual team members. Some prefer a more formal approach while others appreciate a less formal style. The same can be said of delegates and guests. Over the years, I have developed an intuitive style to know how to get the best from my team and to enhance relationships and interaction with clients and delegates. By tuning into them as individuals, I find that they appreciate and respond warmly to this bespoke approach.
What is the most important thing you do to make clients happy?
I know that it may seem obvious but listening is the most important thing. Clients don’t always have to be talking for you to hear what they are saying! Tuning into body language, over-hearing a snippet of conversation they may be having with a colleague or simply reading between the lines can speak volumes about their venue experience and mood.
What is the second most important thing you do to make clients happy?
Having the flexibility and creativity to think on my feet is vital because unexpected things can happened during an event or stay. I am always looking for creative solutions to solve a problem and prevent or smooth any unforeseen situation.
How do you ensure consistent standards?
Constant monitoring is key. My team knows my standards and expectations so there’s constant commitment, constant monitoring and constant correction, when necessary. That is the only way to instil the highest standards as staff can’t put something right if they don’t know what they are doing wrong. By making expectations clear, they know what they are aiming for. EEF Venues’ robust appraisal system and regular reviews ensure that goals and objectives are assessed to achieve the highest standards of customer service excellence.
Give one example of going beyond the call of duty for a customer?
It’s the little things that count. Every single day, we try to make our clients’ venue experience enjoyable and memorable. I am out in the business meeting and greeting delegates and guests every day and I encourage staff to spend time to get to know them too. Remembering a returning delegate’s daughter’s name or what type of tea they like to have at breakfast time are the touches that really mean something to people. One recent example of going beyond the call of duty was when a delegate was in danger of missing his train to London for an important meeting so one of my receptionists came to the rescue by driving him to Leamington Train Station for his train. We do these things in a heartbeat.
Sum up great customer service in your own words
You have to put yourself into the client’s shoes and ask ‘how would I like to be treated?’ Great customer service is about making people feel they are important and that you are interested in them. But this has to be done in a genuinely natural way. A happy, motivated team naturally creates a happy atmosphere, and that in turn, fosters a more relaxed environment for clients. It’s a mutually beneficial circle!
Pictured: Debbie Beacham