How La Quinta Stays Here For You
By Margery Weinstein
LQ Management, LLC, recently revamped its La Quinta Contact Center’s new hire tool kit. The company says this revamp allowed its leadership team to hire the best customer service employees—or “Guest Advocates”—set expectations clearly, coach early and often, and incentivize/penalize based on performance. This program was successful and the company onboarded an additional 200 Advocates and improved performance—and then took the program to the next level. With a goal of onboarding 300 Advocates, LQ Management added a layer to its new hire foundation—Here For You. This is not just a training program; it’s an all-the-time commitment to La Quinta guests, fellow employees, and the entire organization. The company says it’s this understanding about the guest experience that allows it to be “laser-focused on clues that have a profound influence on all of us.” Here are the details on this program:
- After the culmination of exhaustive research into how guests want to feel when they stay at a La Quinta Inn, the company began “clue scanning,” or identifying the signals, those moments that can make the difference between a positive, memorable, and lasting guest experience versus a disappointing stay that may result in never seeing that guest again. Each month, LQ Management provides training sessions targeting these “positive assurance” clues to train employees on how to help guests achieve how they want to feel.
- As adults learn by doing, training can be non-productive without immediate reinforcement. Providing performance feedback, via coaching, provides the company with an understanding of Advocates’ application of training and trends for training of new skills, and sets expectations that topics learned will be put into action.
- To tie both training and coaching to a metric, the company adopted lag/lead indicator methodologies. The purpose of developing the lag/lead process was to drive continuous improvement and gauge whether or not coaching was effective. LQ Management started with simply gathering the lead indicator, which was the number of coachings performed and compared that to the company’s lag measure of conversions. That alone drove change, but over time performance leveled out, and the company began the deep dive into how to measure effective coaching.
- A five-step Coaching Conversations model was designed, developed, and deployed following the same “clue scanning” approach taken with guests. Just as guests go from “assured, settled in, and optimistic,” LQ Management employees follow the same trajectory. The company applies the same clues in a similar way to walk new coaches through how the employee wants to feel before, during, and after the coaching conversation.
- During practice sessions, fellow Team Leads had the opportunity to “clue scan” the coaching conversation. These calibration sessions helped the company guide specific support to the Team Lead during the months that followed the training session.
- To support the development process post-training, regional management conducted bi-weekly 360-degree Coaching Conversation sessions. Within the second month, Guest Advocate satisfaction increased, as did conversion performance. By focusing on continuous improvement, using lag/lead methodologies and the Here For You “clue scanning” approach, the company was able to onboard 304 Advocates while consistently exceeding year-over-year conversion goals by 3.5 percent, which represents an increase of contact center revenue contributions of $8 million.
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