More than any other business, the superyacht industry markets itself to the individualized needs of their guests. It is one of the few industries that are attuned to adequate customer experience, which determines how well a particular charter yacht adapts and survives in a unique market.
While most superyachts focus on providing extraordinary getaways for their customers, there will be a few customers expressing grave dissatisfaction. Sometimes it is even tempting to write off such customers, but it has never been good for business.
As such, conflict resolution as a chief stewardess is one of the tricks that will bridge this critical gap. It is not all about having excellent management skills but rather having a good plan and some background training on how to resolve conflicts in the workplace. Some of the strategies to employ include:
By the time an issue goes to the status of a conflict, the guest is already agitated. In any case, guests don’t have the habit of complaining unless they feel compelled to. If an issue is negligible, they will go about their business without minding some of the trivial matters.
To the extent of reporting an issue, however, a guest has reacted emotionally to the situation, and this can be dangerous because emotions drive people out of control. Moreover, when a guest approaches a crew member with raged emotions, the employee is also likely to respond defensively, which exacerbates the issue at hand.
Before reacting in any manner, therefore, it is important to stay calm as you contemplate the matter. Staying collected is something inevitable especially onboard a superyacht where guest satisfaction is paramount.
The first response will determine if and how well the conflict will be resolved. A calm approach is more likely to resolve the conflict, but be careful not to appear as if you are taking the matter trivially. Express some concern but in a calm manner.
Listening is key
Like hotel employees, superyacht crew will tend to shut down an upset guest, which further aggravates the situation. As the interior manager, however, all you have to do is listen.
Some clients will have issues in their lives which they extend to various environments, and the best they need is someone to listen to them.
Leave your frame of reference and enter the client’s. Pride is counterproductive in such a situation, so listen and validate the guests’ issues such that they don’t stay in the heightened emotional state.
Find out the facts
Whereas listening to the guest is very crucial, taking their word as the absolute truth is a desperate show of partial blindness and absence of leadership skills.
Remember, you also need the crew to realise guest satisfaction goals. Get factual information by asking calm and open-ended questions which elicit more information.
Sometimes it may require additional information before the conflict is fully settled. Talk to relevant parties regarding the situation. These could be other employees or other guests, who will help you find out where the problem is.
With factual information, you will then find a probable course of action that is just to the guests and crew alike.
Enlist different sources of help
Sitting on a management position does not mean that you take every professional burden as your own. Different crew members have different capabilities in handling particular situations.
Delegative leadership is sometimes recommended, so seek help when there is need. In case a guest has been upset by one or more of the crew, you can opt to call in some help from other management figures.
Sit and find out whether it is more rational to involve the employee in question. While it is bound to aggravate the situation in most cases, sometimes the best thing to do is to talk to all the parties involved before a conflict is fully settled.
If you must involve an outside party to resolve the matter, it is worth your time and money. Conflict resolution gurus are sometimes called in to educate employees on strategies for solving conflicts within the workplace.
Brainstorm possible solutions and negotiate a way out
Once you have gathered all the background information regarding a particular conflict, the next quickstep is to stop the issue and give it a lasting solution before it ruins the reputation of the charter yacht.
It pays well when the people involved put a fair contribution to the generation of a lasting solution. As a chief stewardess, you must be open to all ideas generated and remain keen to note whether there is absolute objectivity.
Whereas the guests are mostly right, you must not necessarily tolerate it if he or she has personal issues against particular crew members.
To the point of resolving the conflict, all parties must understand the position taken. If it involves the management, you should be open to receive whatever resolution that will be reached.
If your position is bound to affect the outcome of the process, it is more reasonable to involve other parties. A win-win situation works to the satisfaction of both parties, so be keen not to please one person while offending the other.
Make a follow-up
Once the issue has been settled and the charter guest has left, a number of superyachts tend to leave the confrontation at that. However, to prevent such dissatisfaction from spilling over, make a follow-up note in your journal. People feel valued when you personally follow them up to know how satisfied they feel.
Review the issue
It is very easy for a yacht to assume that all irate guests are acting irrationally. Upon a closer look, the guest may have been right in complaining about a particular meal, service or employee.
This is not to imply that all complaints are valid, but it should provide some insight into different customer experiences. Use the opportunity to review the issue once the guest is gone and determine whether there are any changes which can be made to improve customer satisfaction.
In summary, different customers may have various complaints regarding superyacht charter services, but they can all be resolved to the satisfaction of both parties when the management is purposefully and fully prepared.
The Stewardess Bible is on sale now