The culture of service in China

After 23 years in the industry, I felt rather confident that I knew what outstanding customer service would look like — until I returned from a recent trip to China.

At a property in Shanghai, I signed my name on a bill for a meal in the restaurant only once. Each and every time I came back to the location, more and more servers would greet me by name. They had asked for a photo before my arrival so they would recognize me (and my colleagues) during each interaction and utilize our names.

I never had to place a bag on the floor, as the hotel staff essentially provided mini ottomans for our briefcases and bags.

I only pushed an elevator button on average once out of 10 attempts, as the staff was incredibly attentive and not only pushed the up/down button, but also lit the indicator inside the elevator for my floor. Nothing was beyond their vision for providing exceptional service and surprises.

In Beijing, I learned about the true art of hospitality and the investment made by dedicated salespeople. On a holiday weekend, the leaders of the sales team and other executives set up rich experiences to learn not only about their hotels but also about their destinations and culture. Each meal was spent with a representative who provided their full attention without once glancing at the time nor ever appearing to want the entertainment of their guests to end.

In Hong Kong, I ate food that I never thought would enter my mouth. I looked at clouds that were at eye level. No cup of tea ever went empty. Nothing was a bother, and everyone was proud to be in the service industry.

Eleven days on the road in China changed my life forever. I practiced Tai Chi in Beijing, walked the Great Wall, learned to make dumplings and gained a deep overall appreciation for the people and the service culture of China.