National Extension Tourism (NET): 2021 Conf. Proceedings

environment. From their viewpoint, they hoped to get more people to explore this unique retail experience and relish in the diversity and not be apprehensive of it. By understanding what customers want and need they hoped to better serve them to develop and expanded their customer base with increased word-of-mouth referrals.


The mix of technical skills, interpersonal qualities and personal attributes often touched on in customer service trainings can result in so many aspects of the training being highlighted that participant have a difficult time in remembering the key concepts or “take aways”. T wo of the faculty members had a positive experience in the past using an acronym to help organize their service training (Burkhart-Kriesel, Francis, 2007) but this approach did not match the needs of this unique community. Something different needed to be developed. Doing some research on how other trainings were organized led them to the framework of “on stage” and “off stage”. It would allow the training to include not only standard service concepts but offer a way to incorporate post Covid customer expectations and share the responsibilities with both the employee and employer. This framework allows the trainer and participant to cluster behaviors around actions and behaviors you need to do while you are with the customer or “on stage” and what needs to happen “off stage” to prepare for the customer, with both aspects being equally important. The curriculum content taps into specific needs and requests of the business owners such as how to handle a difficult situation and some general service reminders such as smiling and creating a good impression of the business as people enter. Opportunities for participants to share actions that work well across a variety of retail situations will be offered so that a broad look at service can be appreciated and acknowledged, allowing the front-line employee to be lifted up for the important role they play in the success of the business. In addition, some key new business trends which emerged from the Covid pandemic will be shared such as the customer expectation of cleanliness, curbside delivery, and touchless business transactions. A cultural lens will also be integrated into examples, for instance, the need for menu photos or detailed explanations by the server to help apprehensive first-time diners who come into an ethnic restaurant. When customers see new products and services, they have questions so having informed front-line staff is critical in making the sale and ultimately creating a safe and friendly environment for the customer so that they will return often and do referrals to family and friends. The program evaluation would include asking the participants to list and then share, “what is one thing that you are going to do differently as a result of what you learned today?” as well as following up with

2021 NET Conference Proceedings


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