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Secrets from My Undercover Life in the Service Trade

dancing-robbieIn 1963, Gloria Steinem went ‘undercover’, as a reporter with MS Magazine to work as a bunny at New York City’s Playboy Club. The magazine article that she wrote about that experience, entitled “A Bunny’s Tale,” told the public of the exploitative working conditions of the Bunnies.

Though not quite as daring a deed as donning a Playboy Bunny’s costume, I have set out to make my own form of ‘expose’ — this one is focused on customer service. And during this ‘undercover’ experience, I hope to uncover the ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ of customer service, customer service training and the impact that it can have on overall customer satisfaction.

Here’s where the story begins …

In early March I applied for 3 customer service hourly jobs and received job offers from all three: a resort Spa, a white tablecloth restaurant serving lunch and dinner 7 days per week and a fine-dining dinner-only steak restaurant. Additionally, my husband and I are involved with the National Park as Volunteer Park Rangers on Friday evenings, interacting with Park Visitors and Wildlife on Friday evenings. These four work opportunities will provide fodder for my perspective on managing customer experiences.

A position as Resort Spa Concierge commenced with first day on-the-job-training. After several hours of ‘protective paperwork’ skewed toward protecting the employer, I was placed at the front lobby desk to take reservations for Spa Services and interact with “Spa Guests.” Guest interaction is generally the highlight of each day. The mission is consistent with the mission of The Ritz Carlton, “Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.”

From an operational perspective, 3 inches of paperwork requiring my autograph was comparable to the paperwork required to purchase a home. Large public companies are required to ‘CYA’ with massive paperwork. I was told that every time a new corporate attorney is hired, new forms are generated, increasing the numbers of pages.

The wide variety of knowledge required to ‘sell services’, including understanding the timeframes for spa services, three lines of products, pricing and a make-up line require lots of memorization talents. The nuances of working with a wide variety of ages and personalities with a staff of 40 has its highlights and low spots. This week’s low point was the resignation of a senior Concierge who believed that she was “not accepted,” into the front desk crew. Personalities are most likely the biggest challenge that the managers face.

…More to follow.

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For more than two decades, Gring Marketing Consultants has successfully dissected ‘customer experiences’ from every angle.

Whether from the perspective of a property manager’s need to interface with tenants in a meaningful manner, to a real estate director’s need for a strategic approach to new business pursuits, to a not-for profit leader in need of meaningful interaction with donors and Board of Advisors, …. Gring Marketing Consultants has advised, authored, implemented and measured nearly 1,000 strategic plans to motivate audiences to take action.

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