Gracious Hospitality: Beyond Customer Service
Josh Morita
Senior Director, Business Development
Do you view your customers as a blessing, or a burden?
This question helped kick-off an immersive day of training for the IDN Summit team at the Biltmore Center for Professional Development at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. In an intimate setting with 15 participants, we actively engaged with 3 of Biltmore Estate’s Professional Development trainers for 8 hours of interactive learning.
When the Biltmore Estate says ‘interactive’, they mean it. The day began with an hour long behind the scenes tour of George Vanderbilt’s iconic landmark. We witnessed first-hand how the Biltmore Estate staff implement the service standard of Gracious Hospitality into their daily practice.  
Whereas customer service is what you do for someone, gracious hospitality is how you make them feel. And everyone has the desire to feel significant. One of the challenges we were tasked with was to continuously remember this question:
“How can I make the person in front of me (or on the phone, or on the receiving end of an email) feel SIGNIFICANT?”
Biltmore Estate is a fan of acronyms. Their service standard for Gracious Hospitality is G.U.E.S.T.
G: Greet our guests by name with warmth, sincerity, and a smile.
U: Understand and anticipate guests’ needs.
E: Exceed guests’ expectations.
S: Serve our guests and each other with a gracious spirit.
T: Thank our guests by name for their visit, and invite them to return.
Did you catch the difference in the ‘S’ service standard?

Serve our guests and each other with a gracious spirit. To think gracious hospitality only applies to your customers is a narrow view because everything starts internally with your fellow co-workers.
So how can you adapt the G.U.E.S.T. service standard to fit within your own organization?
When you join us at the next ACE Summit, I hope you will experience a spirit of gracious hospitality. 
Employee Engagement: Answering the WHY
Lisa Ponssa
Executive Vice President
Last week, we had the unique opportunity to participate in training at the Biltmore Center for Professional Development at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. The Biltmore Estate and its sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains were the perfect setting to offer respite from our busy lives and allowed us to really step back, recharge and gain new perspective.  
The Biltmore Estate has truly mastered the art of great customer service and the experience starts with the employees. From the time you are greeted at the front desk to the housekeeper in the hall to the guide who is leading your group, you feel the passion each one has for their role. And as Biltmore will tell you, if you have truly engaged employees within your organization they will do a better job, which results in increased customer satisfaction and improved revenues. I think that makes a lot of sense to most of us.
But HOW to truly engage employees? What motivates employees to go to work every day and do an exceptional job? What is compelling about the work they do?  To drill down on this, we must ask ourselves “why”? What is your organization’s “why” and does it align with your personal “why”?
The first step in engaging your employees is crafting your organization’s “why”.  What is your mission? Do you cultivate this mission and is it an integral part of your organization’s culture?  Culture is what powers the engine of your organization and the Biltmore has coined an acronym for this - S.T.E.A.M.  S.T.E.A.M. represents Selection and Hiring, Training and Development, Engagement and Coaching, Acknowledgement and Recognition and finally, Meaning. Hiring employees primarily for their aligned interpersonal skills and then training them on the technical skills can often yield a more engaged employee.
At the training, they shared a video with us on Daniel Pink’s well-known book “Drive”. We all want to feel valued and we want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. The concepts of autonomy, mastery, and purpose really resonated with me.
While at the training, I was excited to see colleagues from Capstone Health Alliance as well.  It made me think about the important work that our customers do and the clients they ultimately serve every day: patients.  Though some of our customers do not directly touch the patient, they certainly impact the patient, their experience, and quality outcomes. I think that is a pretty important “WHY”.  What is your “WHY”?
(To learn more about the professional development programs offered by the Biltmore, click here.)
Healthcare Business Media
Molly Smith, Josh Morita, Lisa Ponssa, Robert Chafin, Chris Nolan
Capstone Health Alliance 
Kristin Scott and Sonya McCall