By Marcia Love
Front-line staff in every business in a community play an important role in visitors’ experiences, whether they realize it or not. Now a new workshop being offered in town through Tourism Saskatchewan is aiming at teaching staff important skills in creating a memorable experience for customers.
Service Best Saskatchewan workshops are being held in Maple Creek next month, geared at identifying customer needs and delivering superior service. The one-day workshops are being facilitated by Pat Armstrong, who has an extensive history in customer service. With a background in the hotel industry, the NHL and retail, the local resident heard the need for Service Best to be offered in the Southwest in talks with Maple Creek Chamber of Commerce members as well as town council. After taking part in the Tourism Saskatchewan Spring Forum last year, she received training to be a contract facilitator to bring Service Best to the area.
Service Best is a Tourism Saskatchewan award-winning workshop designed to help front-line staff deliver the best customer service they can. Through the workshop, staff will learn best practices from the customer’s perspective, important non-verbal communication and the power of a positive attitude on the job.
“There are some things missing, and it’s only due to education and experience,” Armstrong said. “Because there’s been no one (with Service Best training) to focus on our area, it hasn’t been as much discussed as it should be.”
One-day workshops will be held on March 3 and 26 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Other dates will be announced in the future.
Armstrong said one of the biggest misconceptions is that not all businesses are related to tourism.
However, she believes all businesses are connected to it in some aspect – whether it’s a visitor who needs a flat tire fixed, needs to see the physician or needs to grab a blanket from a local store.
“A lot of people think tourism is just hotels and restaurants and bars, but I think that all of us are part of tourism, because we each affect someone’s visit to our area in the way that we speak with them and help them with information,” she explained.
This means that front-line staff in essentially every business in town play into a tourist’s first impressions of the community.
Because many front-line staff may be youth working their first job, Armstrong has spoken to MCCS staff and arranged to hold a workshop for interested students. She is also hosting workshops in Eastend and Shaunavon.
Armstrong would like to see Maple Creek designated a “Service Best Community,” which is accomplished when at least 60 per cent of local businesses complete the workshop. A business can also become a “Service Best Business” by having at least 60 per cent of their staff complete it.
“We would actually get a billboard put up at the entrance to the community listing us as a Service Best Community,” she stated. “Redvers is the first one to be designated as that, so I’d love for us to be the second one.”
For more information or to sign up for the workshop, contact Armstrong at 306-662-2400.