Empowering Employees to Wow Unhappy Customers

A challenging part of growing a business is to transfer all that’s in the owner’s head – vision, knowledge, etc. – to employees and then train them to act in a manner that supports the business vision.


  • Grow Our Business Through “Free” Word of Mouth Advertising
  • Give All People an Experience that Makes them Feel Special (see previous goal)
  • Give Excellent, Kind, Extraordinary Service – all of the time
  • Teach and Empower Staff to Run the Business as I Would
  • Move Myself from Working IN my Business to Working ON my Business (see last goal)


  • 2 Phenomenal Front Desk Employees
  • I’m Late Leaving for the Weekend
  • 1 Unhappy Customer

Customer comes down to the hotel front desk and was very irritated by bugs in her room around the light. (She left lights on, window open, no screen, so bugs came because they were attracted to the light. Not sure what she expected to happen. . . She’s from the city and apparently doesn’t have much nature exposure. She is creeped out by moths. Ok!)

My front desk staff asked ME what to do.


I don’t want staff to ask me about this type of question; they should be quite confident to be able to take care of this without my help. I thought we had ample training for them, on their own, meet and exceed client expectations.

If they were asking me what to do then obviously there was some breakdown in our training process. I could get frustrated, exasperated, and irritated (yes, I did a little) but to create change I had to look at our training and where I had failed.

So, what to do?

Take a Hard Look:

I realized that I might be a slight control freak. Maybe staff was afraid to make mistakes so they asked me what to do in order not to mess up. I needed to allow myself to make mistakes (HARD) to show it was ok for staff to also make mistakes.

Set Up Repetitive & Varied Training Opportunities:

This is fun! When setting up your training, refer to this blog on learning styles. It will be very helpful to enable you to communicate and train effectively.

  1. Staff Policies & Procedures Training Manual & Training Steps
  2. Staff Book Reads – I.E. Hug Your Customers – Staff Brainstorm, Discussion, and Implementation of Ideas from Book (SO MUCH FUN to see adults getting this excited!!)
  3. Role Play

Support the Wins and Failures:

During staff meetings celebrate those wins! Give kudos, awards, and build staff up. When addressing the losses be careful to use your own examples, don’t call out staff, it’s counterproductive and embarrassing. If a staff volunteers a failure then use it as a brainstorming activity and figure out ways to do things differently next time. All failures are learning opportunities.

Role Play

You probably skipped right over this one right? Most people loathe it. Buck up baby. You’re the boss. Be the role play Guinea pig. Let your staff see that you’re ok doing things that seem stilted or uncomfortable in order to grow. They’ll catch on.

Not to worry, Role Play isn’t just uncomfortable acting.

1) Practice During Staff Meetings
2) Put the Situation on Paper
People may be more comfortable taking risks if they get to write out anonymous answers on paper.
3) In the Moment

Back to the Grouchy Moth Customer – In the Moment Role Play.

I asked staff what they thought should be done. Very sheepish suggestions followed. (I was getting nowhere! Literally, I wasn’t getting to leave work.)

So, I did some reverse role playing. I asked them this:

“If you were this customer what would they LIKE to have done?”

“Move rooms if available.” (Now we’re getting somewhere!)

“What else would you expect as a customer?”

“Maybe a discount of 10%”

“What would be better? What would exceed your expectations and impress you?”

“50% off or if I got the room for free!” (both of them laughing – then the other added – “And I received a complimentary bottle of wine!” (more laughing)

“Done and done.”

And I left. I have frozen in my mind their faces, eyes a tad buggy, saying, really, all that?

Yes, it was overboard the but the breakthrough was worth it.

Staff was giddy. The customer was impressed. I got to leave for the weekend.

Do you have some great training wins to share? I’d LOVE to hear them!

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