I find it interesting reading the different case studies within the Reading Work literature, as each chapter has painted such a different picture than the last. I am recognizing the most familiar patterns while reading Hunter’s chapter about the Urban Hotel. At first I was struck by her insecurity in blending within the hotel culture, but then as I continued to read, it was apparent that this hotel was not your run-of-the- mill hotel. I am imagining either The Ritz Carlton or The Jefferson as comparisons. The Ritz Carlton has three steps of service that they hold as their gold standard, which sound similar to the Urban Hotel. (1) a warm and sincere greeting, using the guest’s name (2) Anticipation and fulfillment of each guest’s needs (3) fond farewell – warm goodbye and use the guest’s name. It seems like most companies today (and 10 years ago when this was written) are trying to find a way to differentiate themselves from the competition.
This weekend I was reading someone’s facebook post about going to a bank. She stated that she hated going to the bank, and rarely goes into a branch, but she had run out of checks so had no other choice. She was instantly impressed by the use of the customer’s names in the line before her, and then one of the managers offered her a glass of water. Next, to really exceed her expectations, he asked if she would like her water chilled or room temperature. As it happened, she preferred room temperature water and was delighted by the option. That’s it – delight. The world of customer service has rare moments of delight today. Who would have guessed that a glass of water could create such a noteworthy experience? This type of customer service isn’t something she was expecting, nor is it the norm in a bank. (It was a Wells Fargo in Decatur, in case you are wondering, this is not a commercial for Capital One.) When was the last time that you were delighted by the customer experience that a company created?
The parallelism for the literacy events in the Hotel and Capital One Bank (where I develop training) was very apparent to me in instances where management relied heavily on the policy and procedure documentation to share important information. However, in both cases, it seemed like this was where they might have been trying to share more complex messaging. They seemed to struggle with the same challenges around getting their associates to process and understand the importance of the new changes to existing protocols. “They’ve got their own job to do, and all of a sudden wow here comes the 18 page document that has all of these wonderful timelines and critical paths and little icons all over the place” (Hunter, p.115). It sounds like the hotel industry overwhelms their staff just like the banking industry does. It’s both reassuring and concerning. How much can our respective associates really be expected to learn through reading alone? Yet, reading is the foundation of our learning. You have to start somewhere to ensure consistency in messaging.
More parralelism appeared through the explanation of the Urban Hotel’s Passport to Quality, where they rewarded associates for playing learning games and getting stamps on their passport. We had a Passport to Excellence initiative last year, where we were encouraged to get stamps on our passport as we completed different activities over the course of several months. I never did find out what the end goal is but I believe it was the bank’s version of “fun” and was supposed to build engagement. A particularly ironic example of one of the activities was a meeting about work/life balance that took place over lunch. It was the perfect representation of our culture. Sounds similar to the hotel, as the associate who went with Hunter only had 15 minutes on her lunch break.
We put so much stock in capturing information through written documentation, whether it’s to share information or train associates, but it seems the least likely method to be absorbed by our target audience. Lecture gives a 5% retention rate and reading gives a 10% retention rate. We don’t see retention rates of 50% until we get to discussion groups and then practice gives us 75% retention. If that’s the case, then are we wasting our time with these communication practices? How much of our time, as training professionals is spent on either creating written materials for our learners or teaching in a lecture environment? It seems that there must be a smarter way to reach our education goals.
Posted by proxy for author Jen M.