From the Centre: Service excellence creates memorable visit

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It is always interesting to get away and see how the rest of the world functions in comparison with our little valley. Case in point: On a recent trip to Edmonton, we overnighted in Airdrie, which is just north of Calgary, and as we always do, seized the opportunity to check out the community complex. In this case, it was Genesis Place, which, if you ever get the chance, you should check out. Being slightly biased, of course, I think ours is better, but their facility, done in two phases, boasts six pools, a waterslide, gymnasiums, a 13,000-square-foot fitness centre, two indoor field houses, a state-of-the-art gymnastics facility and an 200-metre indoor running track. Almost identical, eh?

Our tour guide at the Airdrie complex, Brook, is in charge of the customer service representatives (CSRs), of which they have about 25 in total. I first spoke with Brook many years ago when we were in the design phase and picked her brain about subjects that were foreign to us — such as memberships, fitness facilities and leisure pools — but have since become old hat.

Her passion for customer service is awe-inspiring — she differentiates between regular customer service, which is expected, but not always achieved (as we found in other parts of our round trip to Edmonton), and the next level, which is service excellence. You know when you have experienced this because you leave feeling better than when you arrived. It doesn’t have to be huge — little things like the person greets you with a smile that is genuine, gives their full attention or acknowledges your existence if they are busy with another customer and goes that extra little step that they really don’t have to but do.

One small example is when we were leaving Genesis Place, the CSR stopped what she was doing, which happened to be processing a lobby full of schoolkids, and called across to us, asking if we enjoyed our swim and that we have a safe trip, obviously knowing via osmosis that we were travellers (or maybe I just look that odd that they knew I wasn’t from them parts). I hear many similar conversations at our facility, where our CSRs and other staff know many people by name (another small-town benefit) and joke around or are glad to see people use the facility.

There always has to be a “small world” experience in any of our travels — in this case it was at a luggage store in a mega mall just south of Airdrie where my better half was examining wallets. As probably most women will attest, you of course can’t just look at a few; you have to carefully examine all 80 of them while the salesperson waited quietly and I attempted to slash my wrists with a plastic spoon I found. In a very short length of time, my wife discovered that the woman was from Yahk and that her parents still live there. All of a sudden, the atmosphere perked up as it always does when you find that common connection a long ways from home. Service excellence, no matter what business, is looking for that common connection or personalizing the experience so you feel that you are the most important customer at that moment. We should be treating people the way we would want to be treated ourselves.

Don’t forget the John Bucyk Arena grand opening is Oct. 23 from 2-5 p.m., followed by a free swim — check out details in our advertisement on page 11 of this issue of the Creston Valley Advance.

Neil Ostafichuk is the recreation supervisor at the Creston and District Community Complex.