Businesses need to take customer service seriously to make most of Olympics

01/11/2011 - 00:00
People 1st, the sector skills council for the hospitality, travel, tourism and passenger transport industries, has launched an Olympic readiness guide called ‘Ahead of the Games’ to help businesses make the most of the event.

The guide is full of advice for how businesses can prepare for, and make the most of, the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. In a survey by the People 1st Training Company, 73% of people agreed that Britain needs to improve customer service ahead of the Olympics and just 14% think Britain's hospitality and how we welcome guests is the aspect that will most ensure we are a good host to international visitors during the Games. People 1st's State of the Nation 2011 report revealed that 86% of businesses have taken no steps to plan for the Games. And while 90% of businesses say that the Games will be a good thing for the sector as a whole, preparation is key to ensuring they are a success, both for businesses and the reputation of the UK. Sharon Glancy, director of the People 1st Training Company, commented: "Hosting the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games presents a superb business opportunity, so it's essential businesses prepare now to ensure they make the most of the Games. Half a million people are expected to arrive in the UK for the Games, do businesses have the infrastructure in place to handle increased demand for their services? "Have they planned their staffing levels? And do staff have the skills and capabilities to serve an international and diverse range of customers? There is a lot to prepare for and the clock is ticking." WorldHost, a customer service training programme developed in Canada and used successfully at the Vancouver Winter Olympics last year, has been adapted for use in Britain by People 1st. WorldHost has been awarded the London 2012 Inspire mark by LOCOG (the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games), which recognises the programme's objective in supporting the skills training of staff and contractors at the Games. In addition, WorldHost training is also recommended as one of the legacy programmes for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Companies which are committed to customer service excellence can also become a WorldHost Recognised Business when 50% of their front-line staff (including part-time and seasonal) have completed the WorldHost training. Businesses receive a sticker to display on the premises showing their dedication to outstanding customer service and help is available to support certified businesses through press releases, case studies and campaigns. The WorldHost training programme is set to raise the standard and delivery of customer service training in the UK and has the backing of the Institute of Directors and leading businesses including McDonald's, who will be embedding the WorldHost customer service training in their employee development programme, Merlin Entertainments and Flybe.

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