“To guarantee my employees deliver the consistently high level of customer service I expect, I have to find ways to set the standard and measure them against it” – Landsea owner, Scott Mason.
The Landsea tagline “Sightseeing with a Difference” is highly recognizable on his 24-passenger blue and white buses. Landsea Tours is considered one of the premier Vancouver-based tour companies. Most of the four and five diamond properties recommend Landsea to their guests because, as one of the Fairmont Airport front desk staff puts it “We can rely on Landsea to provide the same level of service we provide to our guests”.
How has Scott gained this reputation for consistency in excellent customer service? “When we went through our strategic planning exercise, we asked ourselves what Sightseeing with a Difference meant and how we could make sure that is what we deliver. Through that exercise we realized that making Landsea a “great place to work” was the key to getting the staff to deliver that consistent, world-class customer service.”
“People had fun working here but we felt there was not a lot of consistency in the way we handled hiring, promotions, recognition, and performance issues,” commented Scott. In 2003, Landsea developed and implemented a number of HR related programs but the one they gave priority to was a performance management system for all staff – including seasonal part time employees. The performance management system included:
- Peer Evaluation – Employees evaluated the customer service and team focus on five of their peers. Evaluator’s names were kept confidential.
- On the Job Evaluation – tour guides were evaluated “on the bus” as they were conducting tours. These evaluations covered all the critical skills and knowledge, as well as the attitude, that Landsea expected them to exhibit during the tour.
- Management Feedback – Each employee was given a list of 10 questions to complete before their face-to-face performance review. This provided management with feedback on how they were doing in the area of recognition, creating teamwork, and general support.
- Face-to-Face Performance Management – This evaluation was based on the performance expectations from the job description and incorporated results of the other evaluation tools, including feedback from customer comment cards. The discussion started with the employee’s feedback to management which created a positive two-way dialogue that set the tone for the rest of the meeting.
Initially employees were skeptical about how they were being measured and the confidentiality of the peer evaluations. However, after the evaluations were completed, most of the employees found the process positive and objective.
Scott warns that you cannot under-estimate the time required to complete the evaluation process during the busy season when the employees are still around. However, in the final analysis he feels that having a formal process to evaluate all the employees gives Landsea the tool they need to assess who supports Landsea’s corporate objectives and therefore who should be asked back for the next season.