The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 7 (December 15, 1926)
In an up to date railway overseas, the feature which is brought most prominently under the notice of the onlooker is the degree to which the railway gives service to its users.
Probably the United States railways outshine all others in this respect, partly due to the thorough training the members receive in the carrying out of the details of their slogan of service, but mainly owing to the conditions under which rival railways in that country operate. Speaking generally freight rates, etc., are fixed and no competition can therefore be brought into being by the varying of a rate to combat the flow of business to a rival company. This leaves as the only way of advancement offering, the promotion of business by methods whereby the user of a particular railway obtains better service than that given by any of its competitors. It can be readily understood, therefore, that the United States railways' slogan of service has reached such a stage that “service,” not “transportation,” is sold to the community.
It may be pointed out that the public recognise the efficiency of an organisation, mainly by the efficiency of the members of the organisation with whom it comes in contact. If these members in each and every case know their jobs to that extent that there is no doubt in the public's mind as to their capability in handling the work under their charge, execute promptly the demands made upon them by the public, and never fail in that courtesy necessary to maintain harmonious working, the customers of the organisation will invariably be satisfied that the degree of efficiency is high. This, though important, is, however, insufficient as far as the complete group is coneerned.
It devolves upon every member to know his job thoroughly; to work in harmony with his fellow employees and, also, to show his efficiency by his activity in doing his job individually and as a unit of the team in which he is placed.
Above all, every member should be proud of his job; proud of the organisation to which he belongs, and lose no opportunity in letting all know that his particular department is the one which is above all others.
Such a spirit as this, with the ideal of complete “service” as the motive for all work done, greatly assists any business and would further to a marked degree that of the New Zealand Railways.
Apart from railway operation, “service” plays a big part in all phases of business life in the United States. That which would impress the casual traveller is the operation of this feature in the working of their hotels. Every employee of an hotel is trained to an extremely high degree of efficiency. All show to the guest that the hotel is operated primarily for his benefit and convenience and that every courtesy and consideration will be given him. It is realised that the guest actually pays the wages of the employees and irrespective of whether he is an old customer or new one, he should be treated with the maximum of service, so that not only will he return, but he will broadcast the service rendered. The management of an hotel in U.S.A. allows no employee the privilege of arguing the point with a guest. Irrespective of whether the guest is right or wrong, the employee must adjust the matter to the guest's satisfaction or call his superior to adjust it.
In some of the large hotel groups the employees are instructed by the Directors more or less as follows:—
An hotel has just one thing to sell, “service.” Service is not a thing supplied by any single individual, it is not special attention to any one customer, but it means the limit of courteous efficient attention from each particular employee to each particular customer. This is what the customer pays for when he pays his bill, whether it is for one shilling or one thousand shillings. It rests with every employee, porter, clerk, waiter, maid and manager whether the customer goes away disappointed or pleased. It is therefore necessary to remember that in all minor discussions between employees and customers, the employee is dead wrong from the customer's standpoint and also from ours.
The point worth noting in connection with the information given above is that a customer does not really pay for work done but for “service” rendered. He will not growl and wrangle over the amount to be paid, if he is obtaining, and knows he is obtaining, the maximum of “service” possible.
As mentioned before, the New Zealand Railway man must be efficient in his job, be proud of it and lose no opportunity of letting all see his efficiency and pride. This will markedly help our progress, but above all, efficiency must actually be there.
He holds no parley with unmanly fears; Where duty bids he confidently steers, Faces a thousand dangers at her call, And, trusting in the Right surmounts them all.