19-09-2017

Case Study - Atmosphere Kanifushi, Maldives

Introduction

Atmosphere Kanifushi Maldives is an elegant 5-star all-inclusive resort on Kanifushi Island, in the Indian Ocean’s spectacular and sparsely populated Lhaviyani Atoll. The island is 2km long and 90m wide and is surrounded by a coral reef.

The resort offers 132 private, detached villas and suites - all with direct access to the white beach and turquoise lagoon. There are four restaurants on site, including one with a pool bar. Atmosphere Kanifushi’s all-inclusive product, Platinum Plus, includes a fine collection of premium wines and spirits; buffet, fine dining and theme night dining options; and an array of activities including excursions, sunset fishing, snorkelling and non-motorised water sports.

Atmosphere’s key brand essence is ‘to embrace the art of balance’. They pride themselves on balancing bliss, tranquillity, fun and value. Guest emotions are prioritised, and the resort creates balanced and enriching experiences that cater to individuals’ needs and desires. Let’s look at how this translates into an outstanding customer experience…

Principles of customer service

Providing a quality customer experience should be easy, but many businesses and their teams don’t get it quite right. Sometimes the ideals and standards are in place but the team lacks the ownership and motivation to deliver on them. Sometimes, particularly in developing countries, the team members do their best to deliver great service but are hampered by infrastructure, knowledge and expertise.

Atmosphere Kanifushi is a great example of how the following key service principles are embraced and influence how the resort operates every day:


• Provide a quality service EXPERIENCE
•MANAGE delivery of quality service
•Develop quality customer service PRACTICES
 

Implementation of these principles at Atmosphere Kanifushi

The best ways to plan and develop great customer service practices are to: Atmosphere Kanifushi does this in practice by:
Obtain information on customer needs, expectations and satisfaction levels using both formal and informal research.

The general manager roams the resort regularly, engaging with guests and asking for feedback (both positive and constructive).

The Food and Beverage Manager is very visible at the eateries, talking with staff and guests about the variety, quality and selection of food.

Provide opportunities for customers and staff to give feedback on products and services.

On the eve of departure, feedback forms are left to each guest in their room. Guests who don’t complete these are asked to fill them in as they check out the next day.

Feedback from guest comment cards and TripAdvisor is recorded daily.

Atmosphere Kanifushi also has a Manager on Duty, who starts his/her shift after their normal working hours. This shift runs overnight and is a way for guests to provide both positive and negative feedback 24/7.

Review changes in internal and external environments and integrate findings into planning for quality service.

All feedback is taken very seriously and acted upon continuously continuously improve the guest experience. Staff induction includes training on all the policies and procedures relevant to customer service, at all levels of employment. 

Every month, the General Manager shares a summary of all guest feedback with the team. The top five employees in the last period are recognised – which is hugely motivating and encourages everyone to excel.

Provide opportunities for staff to participate in development of customer service practices.

As part of new service strategies, staff training now consists of both classroom learning and on-site, with live guest interaction.

Cross-training across divisions has been implemented to encourage new ideas and stay innovative.

Training modules have been customised in response to the training needs analysis and business model.

Atmosphere has also introduced ‘Gift of Knowledge’ training with locals and cross-cultural communities, to improve these people’s skills, and help to create an authentic ‘balanced holiday’ experience.

Develop policies and procedures for quality service provision.

Atmosphere has created brand and core values, which all staff members are trained on. These values are actively and constantly put in practice - and help staff feel proud to be a part of the resort and its achievements.

The garden staff, who speak little English, are expected to greet guests they pass, and are taught basics like ‘good morning’, ‘enjoy your day’, etc.

Waiters are expected to put the needs of the guest first and are taught how to meet, greet and seat a guest properly, etc.

Everyone is trained on identifying guest touch points, and on how to obtain constructive feedback and suggestions.

All team members are given bi-monthly training in behavioural and soft skills.

 

It is clear that the development of these strategies has been carefully planned but is not so rigid that there was no opportunity for improvement. In the three years that the business has been operating, new service strategies have been designed and implemented.

From a guest perspective, Atmosphere Kanifushi has excelled at developing and implementing their customer services practices.

Providing a quality service EXPERIENCE

Having documented customer service policies is one thing, but putting them into practice effectively across the entire business is just as important. Truly exceptional customer service happens when a quality experience is delivered consistently; when difficult situations are handled proactively; and when complaints are resolved fast and smoothly.         

So what might this look like?

A business focused on customer service would: Atmosphere Kanifushi achieves this by:

Anticipate customer preferences, needs and expectations throughout the service experience.

Most people arriving at Malé International Airport have flown long haul and arrive tired. Guests’ five star Atmosphere Kanifushi experience begins right after they clear customs: A friendly Atmosphere employee (in a great uniform) greets guests and whisks them away to a private lounge which offers free wifi, complimentary drinks, snacks and showers while they wait for the 30 minute seaplane transfer to the resort. (Figure 1)
Five restaurants at the resort providing plenty of food, beverage and location options:

The Spice – main buffet restaurant with daily themes
Teppanyaki Grill – Japanese cuisine
Just Veg – pure vegetarian with Jain menu options too
Ceylon Bliss – Sri Lankan restaurant
The Sunset Restaurant & Bar – an Asian-Mediterranean fusion restaurant (dinner only).

There is an adults-only pool for guests who want peace and quiet.
The Liquid Bar hosts theme nights, special disco nights and live performances for guests looking to party.
The bar at the 50 metre long main pool serves an array of cocktails and premium alcohol, right to guests’ loungers.
Two shuttle buggies transport guests around the 2 km long resort.
Guests are given bicycles to use during their stay.
The flexible gym schedule offers loads of variety. (Figure 3)
Private candlelit beach barbeques can be arranged for guests celebrating special occasions. (Figure 8)

The staff often undertakes little extra activities to entertain and delight guests. (Figure 9)

Promptly provide products and services with professional and personalised service to meet individual preferences.

An extensive pillow menu in all rooms lets guests choose what is most comfortable for them. Once a selection is made, room service delivers guests’ pillows of choice promptly.

The bar staff will prepare whatever cocktails guests ask for, whether they are on the menu or not.
Offer extras and add-ons and provide tailored and additional products and services.

The resort is dotted with comfortable spots to relax in. (Figure 2)
Guests need never go thirsty at Atmosphere Kanifushi – there’s a free mini-bar every 100 meters which guests can help themselves from at any time. (Figure 4)

The Kids’ Club is free and is open from 9am – 9pm. (Figure 5)
Liaise with team members and suppliers to ensure efficient service delivery. At the buffet restaurant, guests can choose from the incredible range of fresh food options - and have the chefs whip up something delicious right there and then.
Share customer information with team members to ensure quality service.

Guest celebrating birthdays during their stay will find their beds decorated with flowers and towel art. (Figure 6)

Special interests are noted and acted upon by the staff. For example, staff went the extra mile to make a young fishing enthusiast’s stay particularly memorable. (Figure 7)

 

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Figure 9:

MANAGING delivery of quality service

How leaders manage the way customer service is delivered is also important for long-term success. Leaders must also monitor how effectively customer service is being handled, and make adjustments where needed.

Key ways customer service should be managed:


•Communicate policies, procedures and expectations to staff.
•Make policies readily available to customers and staff.
•Monitor customer service in the workplace to ensure standards are met.
•Initiate staff training to enhance customer service.
•Take responsibility for service outcomes and dispute resolution.
•Act as a positive role model for professional standards expected of service industry personnel.
 

Atmosphere Kanifushi’s leadership team addresses these six points by:

  1. Building a winning organisation, strongly focused on defining and living the company’s values.
  2. Adopting a ‘lead more, manage less’ approach, which empowers staff.
  3. Managing by example: Managers clearly communicate the best ways to improve performance by implementing these themselves.
  4. Encouraging all staff to contribute creative and innovative ideas to solve problems: Managers are approachable and invite ideas from their staff and encourage them to be proactive.
  5. Taking morale issues seriously and dealing with them quickly: Management makes sure that any causes of low moral are uncovered and addressed, rather than simply patching over them. Management also makes sure that employees are recognised for their contributions and are made to feel valued.
  6. Focusing on organisational situation change and risk analysis: The leadership team analyses potential problems and calculates the chance of them happening. Processes and systems are reviewed regularly to ensure that risk is minimised, and plans are put in place to keep negative impacts to a minimum should the threats actually happen.

Conclusion

Five-star, luxury hotels are under pressure to create and maintain excellent standards. Guests have high expectations and can be very disappointed when these are not met. The last thing a hotel wants is for guests to complain on social media, rather than giving the staff a chance to rectify any problems.

Atmosphere Kanifushi’s commitment to customer service and their focus on how their guests feel is not just on paper. The resort implements their thorough customer service policies consistently and with a smile. Staff members are visible and actively encourage guests to provide feedback, so that problems can be addressed immediately. Management keeps a close eye on guest feedback and uses it to improve and add to the resort’s customer service policies continuously.

The result? Guests feel welcome, special, valued, appreciated – and have the time of their lives. (Figure 10)

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by Rachael Seymour

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