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What are some of the fundamentals of high functioning service cultures? Expert’s Corner

Q. What are some of the fundamentals of high functioning service cultures?

  1. Exceptional service experiences are personal, anticipatory and emotional. When one experiences extraordinary service, it stirs a series of emotions—gratification, satisfaction and excitement and hopefully brings a smile to one’s face. In the best service environments, the team that delivers this high level of service will in fact experience those same emotions when delivering these experiences.

Elite clubs not only understand these elusive concepts, but also articulate them in their daily delivery of exceptional service. The finest service environments not only have a pervasive desire to serve embedded in their culture, but on a transactional level each and every employee has a desire to please members and their guests. High functioning service cultures accomplish this in the following ways:

  • Management and staff are empowered to ensure that the experience is excellent cross functionally. Every organization is departmentalized, yet the desire and expectation to please the guest goes beyond the golf shop for the professional or the dining room for the chef—everyone on the team takes ownership for the entire experience.
  • There is a huge commitment to training—from the top down.
  • The best service environments teach that guests have varied needs and provide subtle touches that feel as if they were done especially for each guest.
  • The more standards are defined and adhered to, the more precise the service process can become, which also helps compensate for those staff members who may not be able to anticipate every need on their own.
  • Preparation is critical in order for the staff to have the tools at their disposal and guidelines in place to enable them to deliver a flawless experience. There should be multiple lists with defined standards in all departments detailing times, frequencies, accountabilities of basic service procedures and how to accomplish each one.

With specific, defined standards that are comprehensive, precise and informed, along with rigorous training, communication and evaluation, management can hold staff accountable for delivering service held to a standard of excellence, in the style set forth by the club.

Dan Denehy is president of DENEHY Club Thinking Partners, an executive search and management-consulting firm that has positively influenced the member/guest experience at more than 200 clubs and resorts on more than 400 projects. He can be reached at [email protected] or learn more at