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PIBIO- Diversity-Centric Customer Service

By Peter Huston

We enjoy the luxury of living on a desirable island that attracts tens of thousands of visitors every summer. The key to having a sustainable economy here on South Bass is to be welcoming to the every part of our expanding visitor population.

Successful regional marketing, along with networked and intertwined social media strands has allowed us to share island life to a widening demographic. Ethnic groups from neighboring cities are learning about island life and are excited to see it first hand.

The economic engine of a summer resort requires local proprietors to become savvy to their expanding clientele in short order or lose out on potential growth. With summer help at a premium, island businesses rely on young workers with little or no customer service experience.

Many of these first time workers may only speak English as a second language. With the growing number of culturally diverse customer visits to the island, understanding how to be a good service provider is key. We need to be sure we don’t let language and training be a barrier to successful transactions.

It is not necessary to unconditionally love every person that comes through our front door. However, it is important to welcome all that come in and provide consistent customer service. Often this is a process of litening and learning, but with our short season we need to be able to have our front line personnel be ready for challenging and unfamiliar customer service interactions and circumstances.

The process of selling the island experience continues to change as we try to provide concise detailed messaging to our new customers. Effectively explaining the local offerings and sharing that on social media and in the mainstream news is critical to setting the expectations of new visitors. We’re promoting island life on the Bass Islands for families, couples, empty nesters and Millennials, but we need to be careful not to portray it as Disneyworld or Key West,

Recent events that have permeated television news show a growing disconnect between employees not using common sense and good customer service. A national coffee chain got sucked into a maelstrom of bad publicity and negative social media when two African American customers, waiting for a friend were not allowed to use the bathroom.

Non-customer interactions happen daily without incident, but only if there is consistent understanding and implementation of company policy. In resort areas like ours mistakes happen, credit card processing and booking mistakes occur, but common sense and good customer service training will enable your staff to have positive outcomes and return business. A proprietor’s policy is a teachable idea. Setting a workable policy and having your staff be able to explain it is the key to long-term success

We’re excited to have Dr. Kitty Brandal an expert in Diversity based customer service training present a introductory course for island workers, management and interested islanders for free on June 12th. She describes her course as “Diversity-Centric Customer Service”

“The world is a global economy and Ohio is a significant part of that economy, especially in the tourism and hospitality industries. You may work with someone that you went to high school with, but the customer in front of you may be someone from the other side of the world. Because of social media, that customer’s experience could be shared around the globe. Great customer service is more than just manners. It takes special skills to serve people from diverse backgrounds (religion, gender, ethnicity, age, disabling conditions, language, etc.)”.

This program will help to create a diversity-centric awareness for people in the customer service profession. If you would like to sign up for this free course, there is still time. Email us at and include “diversity” in the subject line.

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