2 “Grand” Customer Service Lessons

grand-budapest-conciergeLast night, I went to the movies and saw “The Grand Budapest Hotel“, a movie I knew little about prior to stepping into the theater. Not only was it an amazing film (now one of my favorite movies) but it has deep roots in customer service. So, of course I had to connect the two and write a post.


The Grand Budapest Hotel shares the fabulous adventure of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a ritzy European hotel set in the 1930s, and his lobby boy, Zero Moustafa.

“[Wes] Anderson has made a madcap caper that doubles as a winsome eulogy for such archaic virtues as glamor, civility, and dutiful customer service.” –A.A. Dowd, avclub.com

The lobby of the hotel is a hustle and bustle of activity and one particular scene shows the high demands of customers and the attention they receive from the very busy lobby boy. So, here are the “Grand” customer service lessons that I took away from this film.

“Grand” Customer Service Lesson 1: Always Be There…But Don’t Get In The Way

While I don’t remember the exact quote from the film (sorry), it went something like this:

“The lobby boy is no where and everywhere at the same time.”

The lobby boy (customer service rep, waiter, barista, retail clerk, etc.) must always be available to assist the needs of the customer, but they must do so with careful awareness to not be right in the center of the scene. We want our customers to know that we’re there for them–we’ll help with whatever they need, whether it be questions, refills or another chair at their table; but we do not want to be in their way. Think of the stores you’ve been in where you are asked if you need help over and over again. The first couple of times, it was thoughtful, though you didn’t need assistance. By the sixth time, it’s flat out annoying. While the employees are obviously not doing it to be annoying, it does leave a mark on the full customer experience.

“Grand” Customer Service Lesson 2: Follow the Leader…But Still Do Your Own Thing

If you have a good leader, as opposed to just a boss, your employees will follow to the end and back. In the case of the movie, they’ll even help escape from prison! It began with Zero’s strong leadership training from Gustave, which he ended up passing on to the other lobby boy later on. Leadership comes from within. It comes from a person who has their values clearly defined and expresses them through everything they do. They truly believe in their employees , allow them to be their unique selves and the employees can trust this. The team is loyal to the leader and the company they work for because they believe in it. They have a purpose in the larger picture. Gustave had a kind heart, an attention to detail and the ability to make everyone feel important, even the lobby boy.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is on a limited release at the moment but if it is playing near you, I most definitely recommend it!


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