Blogs, Jo Burston

Get your customers to shout “bula” with a smile

Jo Burston /

I’ve just had what I can describe as the most outstanding customer service experience I have ever had overseas. Let me start by saying “Bula” to the staff at Royal Davui Island in Fiji!

 

After a week on this special island, I took some very valuable customer service lessons away from my experience. It is all about the people and it is all about being customer focused if you are in a service industry.

 

Everyday we talk about customer service at Job Capital. Our customers, the people, always come first. We deliver, because we know what it means to repeat business. Now I know what it really means.

 

On arrival at Royal Davui I was greeted with a traditional welcome song. Happy smiling faces, positive, friendly, personal and warm greetings from everyone. From the chef to the room attendants, from the gardeners to the dive instructors, it was consistent.

 

Lesson number one: Smile

 

I will only ever hire people that smile naturally, because they are happy for no particular reason in the future!

 

Every time I walked past someone I was greeted and I received a warm smile, I was asked how I am and if I needed anything. If I needed anything, it was delivered with the same smile and gratuity. It was genuine, authentic, personal and – most of all – it was because they wanted to. I was treated with total respect and I knew the staff (with was astounding three to one, guest-to-staff ratio) meant every single word they said and listened to every single word I said.

 

Lesson number two: Greet your customers

 

We will greet every single customer – past, present or future – in a totally genuine manner. We will only hire people that want to be great at service!

By day two everyone on the island knew my name, greeted me by name and asked me if I was ok and if I needed anything, regardless of which staff member it was. Effectively, every single part of the team became a service delivery person.

 

Lesson number three: Names

 

We will address every customer by name and make sure we know that they know, we know who they are. Every person in every business is a representative of the brand. Every team member at Job Capital is in a customer service role.

 

I spoke in depth one evening with one of the waiters. He was from a neighboring island and had never left Fiji. He has no desire to either. He asked what I do and I told him I have some businesses. We talked about customer service and his response was really simple and with a beautiful, big warm smile attached.

 

He said: “Jo, some people never say thank you. They are people like you, who are high up and important people. Sometimes they don’t even acknowledge me, but I believe it is my duty to be who I am and be the very best at whom I am representing my culture and my people”.

 

This was an outstanding and remarkable response.


Lesson number four: personality

 

We will be who we are, we will let our personalities shine, we will represent Job Capital with great pride and we will always acknowledge our culture and be true to ourselves.

 

Firstly I thought: he believes I am “higher”, why? We are both people, I just happen to be on a paid holiday experience. I told him quite quickly, “No one is higher than you. No one is beneath you, and I certainly am neither. We are equal. I explained that the way he represents himself and his culture through customer service delivery is unbelievably refreshing. I don’t know a single place in Sydney where I have been the recipient of such warmth and personable service.”

 

This service continued for another five days, each day I became closer to the staff and they to me. Within a week we had built a relationship of service, a relationship built on respect that was totally reciprocated.

 

On the last day I was farewelled by the entire staff. They sang me a farewell song of great sentiment, specific to the island and their culture. When I looked at the waiter and the team, many were crying. They were real tears from the heart. Passionate about their relationship building within their service environment and genuinely sorry to see me leave.

 

I realised right then the most important lesson.

 

Lesson number five: culture

 

This was a culture of great depth and teamwork and sincerity, authenticity and care that happens to be working on an island resort. If I could replicate this passion in the service culture of my business, nothing could stop repeat business, referrals and the customer paying what we prescribe. This was top shelf service at its very best!

 

Bula Royal Davui! I’ll be back and I’ll be telling all of my friends about you!

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Jo Burston

Jo Burston is the founder and chief executive of Job Capital and Inspiring Rare Birds, which works to promote opportunity for women in entrepreneurship.

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