October 9, 2020

As Customer Service week comes to a close with little fanfare today, I think it’s worth our time to reflect on what customer service has meant to us in the past, what it means right now as our social lives are stunted by pandemic concerns, and what it will look like once we finally navigate our way through this challenging era of our lives.

As you may know, I’m a long-time hospitality professional, and I seek out exceptional services and experiences in everything I do. One thing the last six months has taught me, though, is that service and experience are more essential and pervasive than any one of us would have thought this time last year. Pumping gas, getting groceries, and picking up some takeout are all centered on a core interaction between two people: the business representative and the customer.

The workers who’ve been sharing their time with us over the summer and now into the fall have all been making the journey to work every day during the pandemic (despite the risks and additional difficulty of finding safe and reliable childcare in the midst of an international public health crisis), all to make the experience of feeding our own families and friends just that much more friendly.

The world as we know it wouldn’t exist if not for Customer Service professionals. These people are a part of every facet of our lives and are owed a debt of gratitude for their continued sacrifice.

I pull much of my inspiration from the world of hospitality; think Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons, Ocean House in Watch Hill, RI and my alma mater Sydell Group, but not before this personal service epiphany did I ever consider how important the most mundane errands could be from a social and human angle. With my social engagements being limited to my husband, our dogs, occasionally our families, and a close group of neighbors, I’m more engaged than ever with any person I interact with outside our home. I’ve always enjoyed people, but when it’s harder to connect all the time, there’s a certain magic to it when it’s there in front of me. I can see the person more fully than I used to and have so much respect for their opening up to me, one of countless people they’ll see on a given day.

The same can be said for the people I encounter in my own workday and those supporting our workplace communities here at Host. Customer service, in this strange time, has shifted to something more than simply connecting on a social level. Now and moving forward, stewards of the customer experience take pride in keeping us safe as well as engaged. This new layer of service shifts service from something that’s nice to have and that sparks joy in our interactions to something more mission critical.

As the fine people in grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants stand at the front lines of our social fabric, Customer Service professionals stand at the front lines of workplaces, hotels, and so much more. If they can at all, they are often among the last to start working remotely and they are always the first to start transitioning back into the office – a feat that isn’t without its unique risks and new challenges. Thankfully, the people called to this service are agile enough to keep up and are always happy to welcome their communities into their space after a day, a weekend, or even several months away. It’s a thoughtful Customer Experience that makes returning to the office a special, even exciting experience and it’s executing world-class hospitality services that will keep us safe, well, and engaged once we finally transition into a post-pandemic world. I sincerely thank our Hosts for all they do (we wouldn’t be Host without you) and I have a deep appreciation of everyone remaining dedicated to their service day after day in shops, restaurants, and countless other businesses around the world. It’s thanks to you that so many of us are able to weather this storm and we truly couldn’t do any of this without you – on Customer Service week or any other week of the year.

Patrick Cheeseman, Host's Global Experience Services Product and Hospitality Lead, has extensive experience in both the hospitality and digital startup industries, where he has led innovative customer experience programs. Patrick works to define Host’s Experience ”product,” further envisioning what a Host-activated office feels like, how we access talent and how we train our teams to achieve exceptional service outcomes. He joined the Host team from the Sydell Group, an operator of several high-end boutique hotels, including the Nomad in New York and The Ned in London. Patrick is a dog dad to Charlie and Arthur, and loves spending his free time in Belgrade Lakes, Maine.