Symptoms, fixes and perspectives

Training is such a waste of time if we start out with the wrong perspectives. I know because I have done it myself and I have seen others do it and advocate it.


In July, we have seen commercial airliners crash – yet we see experts reassure the flying public how fundamentally safe flying is. They say it’s all about statistics and probabilities. We have so many millions of passengers and thousands of planes airborne at any given time that the probability of that happening to you and me or the average flyer is very very low. Now, If you apply the same logic, say, to hotel experiences, we can all agree that most of us do quite well. Let me put it in perspective. If you work at a property that has 200 rooms that operate on 90 per cent occupancy, you have about 400 guests who will probably have about 1200 meals daily. This means about 8000 interactions. Even if one of these interactions turns out to be unpleasant, a whole stay could be ruined. Wait! But can we really conclude that the service in that restaurant or the service at the property is bad based on that one incident? Should that warrant classroom training sessions for the entire team?

To me, it could well be a freak accident. If we design training to address this as an issue, we could probably end up treating the symptom rather than the cause. The symptom may subside but the cause will live on. Training should not be seen as a fix. Quick fixes don’t address underlying issues and when we don’t address the root cause, it will come back and bite us harder.

Training should neither be seen as a short-term solution. It should aim at creating a culture of continuous improvement. Organisations that have dropped the word training in favour of learning should make sure that it is a meaningful change. Effective training is about having the right perspective and understanding what customers really want and expect. This can only be done if customer sentiments are accurately felt and emotions are measured in a timely fashion. Genuine issues in service can only be understood if customer feedback is actively sought. This should be a deliberate effort that is focused on getting maximum feedback.

Effective training happens when service personnel learn to appreciate the customer’s point of view and understand their perception. Wrong perceptions can lead to a waste of effort and resources. To understand this better, listen to Rory Sutherland Rory Sutherland This is an interesting talk with examples of Eurostar and the UK Post Office that are particularly relevant for policymakers.

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About Hassan Saeed

I am a lifelong learner. I learn every day and I learn from everybody I interact with - I live with this simple philosophy. My goal is to help spread knowledge and information that helps people get better every day. Learning should fit into everyone's daily routine. Learning should empower individuals to achieve more and drive them towards excellence and perfection.
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