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PRIDE in Customer Service

The Reef's Deputy Resort Manager Brian Ebanks.

The programme has definitely paid off for our property. Our staff is happy and our guests are happy.

—The Reef's Deputy Resort Manager Brian Ebanks

The Reef has embraced PRIDE and is making customer service a top priority in its growth and development.

The 162-room resort located on Grand Cayman's East End is using the Department of Tourism's PRIDE (Personal Responsibility in Delivering Excellence) customer service training programme.

Over 75% of the organization's employees have undergone PRIDE training since the DOT introduced it over a year ago to lift customer service standards in the Cayman Islands tourism sector.

"We wanted the Reef to spearhead the movement to transform customer service in the Cayman Islands," explains The Reef's Deputy Resort Manager Brian Ebanks.

Especially in these tough economic times, he said, guests are looking for value for money, and staff must be properly trained to be part of the delivery of excellent customer service.

"It is our job to make our visitors' stay as comfortable as possible and make Cayman the place they want to visit over and over again," Mr Ebanks explained.

In addition to training for frontline staff, The Reef has also participated in the 'train the trainer's' programme which equips team leaders on the property to deliver training and to continuously reinforce PRIDE standards among the workforce.

So deep is The Reef's belief in the programme that the PRIDE insignia is now a feature of every career ad the hotel places in newspapers as it seeks to recruit PRIDE-certified staff.

"We put the PRIDE logo on all our ads as a signal that we are serious about customer service and want to employ people who share that philosophy," Mr. Ebanks noted.

Since 2007 when the DOT developed the PRIDE programme, over 1700 employees have been trained across the tourism sector, including those at government entities like the Department of Immigration, Cayman Airways and Boatswain's Beach.

PRIDE is delivered through a number of workshops that combine behavioural training with information about the Islands' heritage and culture.

DOT's Project Manager for PRIDE Darren Zucker said that the "Promises" workshops for frontline staff focus on the delivery of behaviour standards called the "Top 10 Promises".

"These are simple behaviours like your mother taught you growing up: look people on the eye, smile, stand up straight," he explains.

Mr Zucker said that other workshops included Leading the Promises for supervisors and managers that teaches them to deliver on-going, on-the-job training and coaching for frontline staff to ensure that they live up to the top ten promises.

Giving further details, he said the Foundations workshop is an intensive two-day programme to train top class trainers who then deliver on-the-job training and coaching to new and existing employees. These trainers can now teach their staff how to establish and maintain world class service standards.

"We also have a PRIDE in Action Programme which sees DOT trainers being deployed to hotels and attractions to guide in-house supervisors and managers as they deliver the programme. This is something that we have instituted to assist the in-house trainers and to guide them as they build their confidence in delivering the PRIDE Programme," he said.

In addition to behavioural training, PRIDE also focuses information on Cayman's heritage, culture and geography. To assist in this process, DOT developed a "Know Your Cayman Islands" book. Tourism staff can scan the book for information on Cayman's founders, its historical architecture, places of interest and indigenous plant and animal species.

"We have staff from all over the world working in our tourism sector. But once they are standing in front of the guests they represent the Cayman Islands and as such we need to make sure that they can speak with authority about the Cayman Islands," said Mr Zucker.

Activities Manager at The Reef Laura Huntington participated in the PRIDE programme and was pleased with the experience.

"The programme was fantastic! The facilitators were amazing and reminded me why I chose the hospitality industry in the first place. It also enabled me to interact and share best practices with other persons in the industry," Miss Huntington said.

"The programme has definitely paid off for our property. Our staff is happy and our guests are happy," added The Reef's Mr. Ebanks

Deputy Director in charge of product development at the DOT Sharon Banfield-Bovell said the purpose of the PRIDE programme is to foster a service culture in Cayman. "We are asking the community to embrace PRIDE as a way of life, first in how we treat each other as citizens and then how we treat visitors to the island," she said.

For further information contact: Prudence Barnes