Being perceptive is the key to service

I studied tourism and service management, a definition hard to clarify. The tourism industry IS the largest industry of the world (according to the World Bank) and the most important source of income for many countries, primarily underdeveloped ones. Within that industry (don’t you just hate that world) there are innumerable people in innumerable positions. But somehow, when you say you work with tourism most people instantly perceive the idea of a guide or a travel agent.

I’ve tried both and it’s not my thing.

When I applied for my school in Båstad I had just been out backpacking in Australia and I thought to myself: I love traveling. I could work and make a living out of this! The truth is, it’s not that easy. Arranging, operating, marketing and selling travels is a completely different thing than experiencing them yourself. Service, is even more tricky. Many people think service is all about smiling and being polite, but the same attitude that work so well in one situation can have the opposite effect if say, you’re in Thailand and you’re complaining to the front desk for the fifth time that you’re air con isn’t working and the personnel greets you with a smile saying; “yes, sir, we fix”.

Service is a complex art.

It is about understanding someone else’s needs (the need being the gap between the actual scenario and the dream scenario), not from your own reference point, but putting yourself in someone else’s shoes (having no idea where they’ve been and how far they’ve gone to get there ) and committing, not to your assumption of the promise, but of THEIR expectations on you (based on many previous experiences and factors) Furthermore, if you want to make an impression (so that they will actually experience “good service”), you need to exceed those expectations, and that, after a fifteen hours shift of complaints, confusion and stress, when you really just want to “shut off” your channel.

Being perceptive is the key to providing good service. In fact, if you look up the word “perceptive” in a thesaurus you get a description of what we often refer to as “service minded”:

Alert, aware, insightful, keen, knowing, observant, rational, responsive and wise.

Perception is my thing.

You see, I may not be the quickest co-worker in a group of staff. But I ALWAYS put people first.

I may not know my role yet within this massive machinery of people and services but I know, whatever I do, I am learning AND teaching. I am giving AND receiving. And yes, I smile too.