Class teaches the basics of customer service |

Class teaches the basics of customer service

Susan Wood

Achieving the quick fix isn’t reserved for customers with wants and needs in South Lake Tahoe.

Some businesses seek shortcuts by training their employees at Lake Tahoe Community College’s Guest Service Academy, a three-part class that teaches the fundamentals of delivering excellent customer service. The first session, “Moments of Magic,” covers ways to exceed customer expectations. The second part, “Service Recovery,” discusses how to deal with difficult guests. The third, “Attitude and Motivation,” highlights ways service workers can take control of their own attitude and avoid negative people. The three sessions work in concert.

But some employers using the program will make the mistake of sending their staffers to class No. 2 without going through the first session, according to Virginia Boyar, the director.

“It’s very shortsighted. They could avoid No. 2 if their people go to No. 1,” she said. “Employers need to put the money where their mouth is and give them the tools. They think it should come natural, and it doesn’t.”

The No. 1 error workers make is showing impatience and the lack of empathy, she noted.

Then, there are two very hard words to say: “I’m sorry.”

Boyar urges all companies in the service industry to make the nominal investment to send their workers.

“In Tahoe, there are pockets of excellence, and there are pockets of deplorable service,” Boyar said.

On a scale from one to 10, she would rate South Lake Tahoe a seven.

“We’re good, but we’re not great,” she said. “And all the physical improvements in the world won’t make a difference if people aren’t lined up. Redevelopment is nothing without people. It’s time to raise the level of professionalism.”

Three workers from the Accommodation Station attended the Guest Service Academy.

“It’s all the stuff I know, but it’s good to be reminded of it again,” said Denise Burke, who has spent 25 years in the hospitality field.

Her co-worker, Sandy Zalkind, said part of the problem lies in people expecting as much attention when it’s busy as when it’s slow.

“I think we have peaks and valleys in our customer service,” she said.

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