Improving guest service with competency models
Improving guest service with competency models
07 MARCH 2012 7:16 AM

Follow this proven, five-step process to develop competency models to drive guest satisfaction at your hotel.

Successful organizations recognize the importance of customer satisfaction to their own sustained business success. Leadership of innovative organizations knows they need improved selection, training and certification in customer satisfaction skills to produce successful, customer-contact personnel. Just one underperforming candidate in the critical, customer-contact role can be an expensive error, costing an organization in lost sales and repeat customers. And with the reach of social media, bad “word of mouth” can be even more damaging.

For this reason, many organizations express a desire to become “best in class” in customer satisfaction and establishment of a competency model is the first step in this journey. The framework we use, depicted here, illustrates the relationship between four sets of interrelated human resource activities and the connection to a foundation in established Core Competencies.

To be clear, driving best-in-class performance requires development of a number of additional tools beyond validating each job family’s core competencies, including:

• Interview guides: Designed to identify candidates possessing the knowledge, skills and abilities required for a particular job family to drive successful performance.
• Job knowledge tests: Assessments should align with validated competencies required to be successful in that particular job to ensure team members possess the knowledge necessary to deliver the required business results.
• Performance reviews: Performance reviews are essential to keeping team members motivated. To maximize the value of performance reviews, you must measure team member performance against the certified core competencies required to be successful in that job.
• Individual development plans: Coaching and the use of Individual Development Plans are best demonstrated practices. But how can you coach someone when you haven’t confirmed the competencies required to be successful? Align your IDPs with established Competency Models to improve and grow team member performance over time.

The foundation for all of these vital management functions is the development of a set of validated core competencies for each job. Follow this proven, five-step process listed below to develop Competency Models at your hotel:

1. Identify top performers: Identify incumbents in the position deemed to be most successfully completing the job family’s tasks today.
2. Determine critical success tasks: Develop a list of “tasks” or job duties within the job family that are completed on a regular basis by incumbents and critical to overall success in the job.
3. Conduct success factor survey: Conduct a research survey of the successful job incumbents to rate the task statements by frequency and importance.
4. Factor and analyze survey results: Rank-order the task statements based on the ratings from the survey. Review and re-write the tasks based on expert responses.
5. Validate and publish: Provide a summary report establishing the psychometric properties of the analyses and publish the finalized competencies.

While organizations can spend into seven digits to complete this type of task, that level of investment isn’t necessary. What is recommended is if you plan to use your competency model to make critical employment decisions, you should involve an experienced and reputable partner in the validation and creation of your Competency Models to reduce your risk. Once you have established the proven core competencies of success in a given job family, you are on your way to developing the other manpower management processes to build sustainability into your business.

Until next time, remember: Take care of the customer, take care of each other, take care of yourself!

Jim Hartigan, chief business development Officer and partner joined OrgWide Services, a learning, communications, surveys and consulting firm in April 2010 after nearly 30 years experience in the hospitality industry, including the last 18 as a senior executive with Hilton Worldwide. Jim brings to OrgWide a reputation for driving change through improved business processes and developing comprehensive strategies that streamline operations, drive brand awareness and preference, and increase customer satisfaction.

The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its parent company, Smith Travel Research and its affiliated companies. Columnists published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.

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