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Chamber reveals more details about revamped Spirit Program

Whistler Chamber of Commerce finalizing agreement with UVIC to deliver customer service content
GET IN THE SPIRIT Whistler Chamber of Commerce CEO Val Litwin unveiled some of the new 2014/15 Spirit Program details to resort officials last week. Photo submitted

As any successful entrepreneur will tell you, rebranding is about more than just a slick new logo or fresh colour scheme.

"It's not enough just to brand the outside, you have to retool the inside too," said Whistler Chamber of Commerce CEO Val Litwin.

So, bearing that in mind, the Chamber will not only unveil the Spirit Program's redesigned branding for 2014/15, but a host of new and engaging customer service content that came as a result of an eight-month long needs assessment.

"We heard a couple of things loud and clear: One was that we need really high-quality content," Litwin said. "If this is going to come alive in our businesses, we need to know we've got content that's supported by good research, that we have great facilitators and it's an inspiring experience when we actually do it."

To that end, the Chamber is in the process of finalizing an agreement with the University of Victoria to have associate professor and customer service strategist Mark Colgate build the foundation of the resort's revamped Spirit Program. Colgate is a renowned customer service expert, and has worked with some of world's most recognizable brands. He also offered a talk in Whistler in March that outlined his service philosophy, the 8 Moments of Power, which will underpin the Chamber's service training content moving forward.

"Those 8 Moments of Power will be the customer service framework underneath all the training," said Litwin. "It's really eight different techniques that frontline staff can use to deliver exceptional customer service. Mark (Colgate) is not only behind part of the content design, he's also facilitating.";

Key to the new program will be two training courses for senior resort staff: a Train the Trainer program, which will provide a brief introduction to Colgate's teachings for managers and team leaders to bring back to their staff. The second, a coaching module, is more in-depth and aims to establish a framework through which senior employees can institute Colgate's methodologies effectively and create a service-oriented culture at their companies.

"It's inspiring content taught by an incredible facilitator with two very focused tools to keep it alive in the organization," added Litwin.

Another engagement strategy will be a new resort video for Spirit Program participants that will relate to some of the University of Victoria content, and can be used to orient new employees partway through the winter season.

Following the success of this year's inaugural campaign, the Chamber will also continue engaging with resort staff through it's #TheMostStoked contest, a no-cost way for businesses to use social media to highlight all the great customer service their employees deliver. This winter's contest, which asked entrants to submit photos and stories showing why they are "the most stoked" employee in Whistler, inspired nearly 200 submissions and over 5,000 comments online, according to the Chamber.

Litwin offered a glimpse into next year's Spirit Program at a Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday, May 20, and said the feedback from resort partners was positive.

"Everyone was really enthusiastic," he said. "All the resort partners were present, so Tourism Whistler, Whistler Blackcomb and the RMOW are all really excited about the new content, and their organizations are looking at how they can get their teams participating in the training, so we're really looking at a resort-wide solution to customer service again."