accesso Blog Series: Viewing Clients as Guests.
I grew up in Estes Park, Colorado. It’s a small mountain town at the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, whose economy is almost solely based on tourism. From a young age, I learned that happy customers were the key to a successful summer, and many of them returned year after year to the same restaurants and shops. The leisure and entertainment industry must be in my blood, because after college I moved to Orlando to start my career at Walt Disney World. Disney taught me to take customer service to the next level, viewing the patrons as guests in our home and to do everything within our power to make them comfortable and exceed their expectations. As with many in our industry, my journey has taken me from operations to support, from front line to leadership, and from Orlando to around the world. The one constant that I can always count on in any role or any culture is that world class guest service is always paramount.
When my path brought me to accesso, I immediately connected with the concept of treating the client as a guest. From my first day it was evident that the accesso team were completely committed to the clients’ satisfaction. My first meeting was a weekly team recap that focused on which attractions were getting ready to open for the season, which had special events running, and generally what we needed to do that week to ensure that those clients ran smoothly. A “do whatever it takes” attitude was evident not only in my Client Services team, but also with the software engineers, QA team, and network group. Even though I was new to the technology field, it was easy to apply a lifetime of guest service lessons to the relationships I had with our clients. I quickly learned that to be successful, a Software as a Service (SaaS) business needs to place an equal emphasis on the “Software” and the “Service.”
How can you ensure that your vendors are providing you world-class service? Through my own experience, I’ve found four aspects of guest service to be the most important.
1. A true commitment to Partnership.
There are hundreds of vendors to choose from, each of whom likely provides a quality product or service. (Otherwise, they would be out of business!) The real difference comes in finding a vendor that views themselves not as a supplier, but rather as a partner with their client. I want someone who is as invested in my business as I am, and takes care to ensure that my needs are anticipated, met, and exceeded. After the sale is closed, what does the relationship look like? Do I have a personal connection with someone at the service provider? Do they know me? Do they know my business? We all wear several different hats, and I need to know that someone has my back while I’m out recruiting, or training, or operating during the season. I want to know that I can count on someone throughout the year, not just when the contract is up for renewal.
2. Support hours that match your business.
“We work while others play.” I learned that phrase the first day at Disney, and it’s stuck with me all these years. The attractions industry is busiest when children are out of school, families are on holiday, and when people with 9-5 jobs get off of work. That’s been a fact since my first job in Colorado, and certainly continues to this day. When I was in park operations, nothing frustrated me more than needing assistance from a support area and getting someone’s voice mail (or even worse – a phone that rang forever without anyone answering!). How was I supposed to take care of the upset guests standing in front of me? When I moved out of operations into support roles, I vowed never to let that happen to areas that I supervised. You should demand 24/7 support from real people – because after all your guests sure do!
3. A business model that ensures mutually beneficial “wins.”
I like working with people who are as invested as I am in the results. When people have skin in the game, I know they’re motivated to go above and beyond to be successful. That’s why our eCommerce model is transactional. The more tickets our clients sell, the happier they are and the more revenue we generate. It’s in our best interests to ensure that the network is running smoothly, that the products are configured correctly, and that the verbiage and images work together seamlessly to entice the end user to want to make a purchase. Every week we have our Client Services team spend time reviewing each of our clients’ eCommerce stores, and we take care to assign the team members to clients that they do not regularly work with. This way we’re able to ensure a fresh pair of eyes to go through the guest journey. Their reviews aren’t limited solely to the web store either, we have them click through the client’s website to make sure there are no broken links or anything else out of place. It’s easy to get caught up in what you’ve been working on, so this is a good way for us to shift the mental focus for a little while and look at something new. A pleasant side effect is that the entire team gains broad exposure to the various ways our clients utilize the features in the solution, and often they’re able to take fresh ideas back to their own clients which can help drive sales.
4. Company Culture
“How” you do something is just as important as “what” you do. (Or if you prefer, “the ends do not justify the means!”). I’m happy to have found a place to work that shares my values. While my work itself is enjoyable, (it is stimulating and constantly challenging me to learn more), I have the most enthusiasm for the people I work with and the culture I work in every day. I know our executive leadership cares about me and my fellow teammates, and I strive to give that same care and attention to my team, who in turn pass it along to our clients and their guests. We don’t take shortcuts, we choose the right path, and when we make a mistake we own up to it and make it right. Years ago, the accesso team worked together to define our company’s five core values: Commitment, Innovation, Passion, Teamwork, and Integrity. Our internal peer recognition programs are based on rewarding team members who exhibit those five core values. If someone stays late or works over their weekend on a project with a tight deadline – their peers thank them for their Commitment and Passion! If someone comes up with a new piece of code which speeds up the purchase process for guests – their peers thank them for their Innovation! If someone takes the time out of an already jam-packed day to sit with a new colleague and go over a particularly complex product set up – their peers thank them for their Teamwork! Our team is rewarded for taking care of the clients and doing so in a conscientious way.
Although I’ve traded the mountains of Colorado for the beaches of Florida, I’m thrilled with where my journey has taken me. I’m happy to live and work in the epicenter of the leisure and entertainment industry, and even happier to be part of a company which provides outstanding service to our clients and their guests.
Brandon Holst – Vice President, Global Implementation
Brandon Holst is the Vice President of Global Implementation for accesso Passport. He lives in Orlando with his wife and 3-year-old son, and when they’re not playing in the theme parks they enjoy traveling to experience new people and cultures!