I am doing some research in Steamboat Colorado at the moment (yes, that is me above, hard at work), where it is no accident that everywhere you go, customer service is spot-on. That is because back in 2014, the town decided to train the whole community in customer service techniques. The innovative plan was hatched by management consultant, Ed Eppley in conjunction with the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association and also the Steamboat Ski and Resort Company (SSRC). Pivotal in planning and implementation were Jim Clark, Executive Director of the Chamber, and Rob Perlman, Senior VP of Sales & Marketing for SSRC.
Steamboat has long been known for its western, family-friendly atmosphere, so focusing on service isn’t new, according to Perlman. “The new part is how we approach service,” he says. According to Eppley, owner of Ohio-based company, ProspeX at the time, it was all about exceeding customers’ expectations. The idea of training the whole town as well as the ski resort was the brainchild of the Steamboat Chamber CEO and SSRC's COO, Chris Diamond, who was also on the Chamber Board of Directors. “They felt it was important that someone who comes to Steamboat have exceptional experiences, whether they were on the mountain or in the nearby town,” Eppley explains.
Eppley went on to custom design a pilot training program, initially involving four four-hour sessions over the space of a month, teaching the very latest in customer service culture and using many Disney examples of ‘going the extra mile’. His course included techniques such as the connection stack: finding common ground with customers and then using that more intimate relationship to gain their confidence and loyalty to the destination.
And the result is excellent customer service everywhere you go in Steamboat!
You can read more about Steamboat’s service excellence program in my book Winter Sport Tourism