Bryan K. Williams-Master of Platinum Service
When Lynne McNees, President at International SPA Association (ISPA) invited me to their conference in 2013, I never imagined that four long years later I would be part of the ISPA2017 professional development session lineup.
At the time I wrote a blog called Ethnic Skin Aficionado. Its focus was ethnic skin and how to provide great service to the rapidly growing ethnic market.
One of the speakers at ISPA 2013 was Dr. Bryan Williams. He presented on the topic of service with such laser precision that I requested an interview with him. Revisiting my interview shows me that his message has remained constant. It is as powerful today as it was then.
Dr. Bryan K Williams is a name which is making its way to the lips of everyone in the hospitality industry, particularly spa.
I had an opportunity to attend Dr. Williams’ vibrant presentation on Five-Star service delivery at the International Spa Association’s (ISPA) Conference and Expo in Las Vegas. His appearance is deceiving; he looks as though he should be rocking the runway in the latest Ozwald Boateng creation. His Caribbean lilt lulls you into a false sense of comfort which is momentary; one quickly discovers that he is not a “stand behind the podium” style speaker. Dr. Williams gets in the audience and engages. By the end of his talk we all want to go back to work and try harder. Over deliver. Make someone’s day.
I met with Bryan to discuss his obsession with perfectly delivered customer service.
I read that you went to school in the Virgin Islands; you took business and also management. What did you want to be?
Well that’s just it, I wasn’t certain. I was working as a line employee at the Ritz Carlton in St. Thomas. I had like, 17 jobs from dishwasher to director of training and everything in between. So I earned an associate degree for hotel management, and then a bachelor’s degree for business administration and marketing. I thought I was going to be a general manager.
But I realized how much time GM’s spent at work, they didn’t see their families! So as Director of Training I moved to the Atlanta Ritz Carlton. I earned my master’s degree in education, concentration on adult learning. I was promoted to the global corporate Director of Training and Quality position. In that role I was now responsible for all of the hotels and their Five-Star training standards world-wide. During that time I earned my doctorate in organizational leadership.
Wow, you earned all of your degrees while working full time?
Yes and my aspirations were changing. As I assessed myself, I thought that doing something where I am helping to equip other people to serve with excellence, is where I want to be. That’s when I started my own company.
So Bryan, I go to spas at Five Star Hotels and am often disappointed. Good service is not necessarily personalized service. Why is this so hard to communicate?
I think part of it is that a lot of people believe that they are giving good service, particularly in the hospitality business (hotels, restaurants, spas) when they’re not. They think that they’re giving personalized service by saying your name and giving eye contact. A massage therapist might say “I asked about the pressure”. But personalization is not about the questions, it’s about connecting with me. It’s about lifting that person up in every way and saying “I am really here for you. What do you need? How can I make this experience exceptional for you?”
A lot of people don’t understand that concept because it requires them to humble themselves and realize it’s not about them. A lot of spa technicians may not understand that because they take such great pride in their work. Sometimes they may not realize that what they are giving is not always being fully received as they intend it to be.
Do you see more people in the spa industry showing interest in trying to do better?
Well I’ve spoken at the six previous conferences and it’s remained pretty consistent. Of all the conferences that I do every year, ISPA attendees are the hungriest and the most eager to learn, by far.
What is the takeaway from your presentation today? What is most important for my service providers and decision maker readers to know?
That they should be uncomfortable with imperfection. To consistently, continuously expect nothing less than excellence every single time. Every touch point, every single guest, every day! And know that they are worthy of expecting that. And whoever they are serving is worthy and deserving of that as well.