Is HR the missing link to excellent customer service?

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Working for over ten years in the operations side of the hotel industry, Amy Bunting, Pacific regional HR director of Starwood and director of HR at Sydney’s Sheraton on the Park, has seen how closely HR’s role ties in with building a culture of excellent customer service.
 
“I could really see the difference a good hotel HR manager was able to make on both the guest side of things but also the employee side of things,” she told HRD.
 
Bunting has used this experience to further cement HR’s role to enhance the levels of customer service at Starwood.
 
“Coming from front of house roles in hotels means I’m able to add a lot more commercial value to the HR discipline,” she said. “I understand how departments run and the costs involved.”
 
“I’m able to make commercial decisions and also participate in discussions with upper-level management not just from an HR standpoint but a business standpoint.”
 
Bunting says that HR can affect customer service levels in a number of ways – the most obvious being recruitment and selection. Giving department heads ownership in the hiring process is critical to developing the right culture within the organisation.
 
“We’re coaching the department heads on the best way to select their talent. If we don’t spend enough time with the department head, they can get into the interview feeling they just need to fill a gap and they’ll take anyone. That’s detrimental not only to the department but to the hotel.”
 
HR’s input also extends into training and development, Bunting adds. This includes enabling conversations with department heads to ensure they are managing staff to the best of their ability.
 
“We’re a partner to the business for the entire way through an associate’s life with us,” she said. “We also need to make sure we’ve got our finger on the pulse of our talent … to ensure people are getting what they need to stay engaged with us while that growth is occurring.”
 
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