Customer Service & Employee Engagement: family-style

Customer Service & Employee Engagement: family-style

Earlier this month my wife Linda and I spent a few days visiting Venice, Italy. Our choice of hotel was heavily influenced by customer feedback via Trip Advisor and other online channels. We decided to stay a few kilometres outside of Venice itself, opting for a quiet retreat with easy access via train direct into the city. Although our stay was booked as a rewarding break, it has turned out to be an excellent (if accidental) case study on excellent customer experience. 


What a fabulous time we had. The airport transfer was arranged by the hotel, our warm welcome set the tone from the outset and we received first class service throughout our stay. Not over-fussing, just a willingness to help on each occasion from each and every member of the staff. Nothing was too much trouble and it seemed that everyone really enjoyed helping, each saying this was simply part of the service.

So what was that special ingredient, that ‘X’ factor? It transpires that this particular hotel is family-run. I don’t mean family-owned but family run. Even those who were not family related acted as though they are members of the extended family.

We know that behaviour is an expression of values and beliefs. What became apparent to me were the shared values throughout the ‘extended family’. Customer service was at the heart of everything they did, thought and acted upon. From reception to chambermaid everyone seemed on message that service is key. However, there was no evidence of any corporate mantras on view – the customer service culture was simply embedded in the way things were done. Engagement levels were high from everyone. We discovered during our stay that the most unassuming person who served us was the owner - no evidence of egotistical leadership here….

Our experience at The Villa Odino Hotel has made me think long and hard about employee engagement and the role that shared values play in delivering customer excellence. Modelling the correct behaviours from the top, having highly trained staff with the skills, knowledge and attitude with a real sense of pride in their work where very much in evidence. These are all things that we know help levels of employee engagement increase.

However, for me the ‘X’ factor was the sense of being part of an extended family with the same values and belonging that really made the difference. How fantastic would it be if businesses can create such a family atmosphere at work? I recognise that families do have disagreements and sometimes do fall out, but when things do really click then you will achieve a magic formula where everyone benefits from the positive experience.

Paul Beesley, senior consultant, Beyond Theory

For more information of how we believe raising levels of employee engagement will increase your levels of customer service in your business, please contact Paul Beesley on 01604.212505 or email him at for a free consultation. Paul has recently accepted an invitation to help judge the UK Customer Experience Awards 2014 in recognition of his expertise and understanding of the relationship between employee engagement and customer excellence.

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