It’s all about the folks! – Employee experience innovation

By: Paul Armitage - General Manager, Le Golf National July 31, 2018

Change over the past four years has been rapid and widespread at Le Golf National. Many aspects of the business have been revamped to get ready for the Ryder Cup and what that brings, but also, to boast one of the best customer service experiences in the golf industry.

The main key point to achieving that and ultimately success is folks… the people. Whether they be your governance, your staff, customers, business partners and stakeholders – you have to inspire to achieve.

In 2014, Le Golf National already had a beautiful golfing experience from tee 1 to green 18. Great value for money too – but the experience was not personified and was lacking some of that “je ne sais quoi” and attention to detail.

2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National employee experience development and innovation

From the car park to car park our experience was average, not poor, but average. Where else on earth have you been on a bucket list destination, a host venue for a major or a Ryder Cup – where the customer experience is just « average»?

And yet, Le Golf National had so much going for it. Three golf courses, of which one of them – the jewel in its crown – Albatros – acclaimed by European Tour players to be right up there on top of their list of favourite courses in the world.

Buildings and space to host the most demanding of tournaments let alone local competitions and corporate events, and geography with its position close to the iconic capital city of France, Paris and also the more scaled down, but beautiful historic Versailles.

So what was missing? Where was Le Golf National losing the story and even off track?

A four-letter word is the answer to that …and we will get to it later on.

Le Golf National employee experience development

Redefining who runs the company!

Any company, any commerce, any business all needs clients, customers. They are part of your organisation – right?

Rare are those who can force a consumer to consume the inconsumable. The customer is, therefore, the number one person who fits into the thought process of a business and should be at the forefront of the organisation and not peripheral to it.

Put him and her and both, even them all, right on top of your organisation.

That is what Le Golf National has done since 2015.

Benchmarking, researching, developing, innovating and creating for him and her has become fun. Testing, succeeding, accepting failure or disappointments is part of that relationship and is our sport now.

It is a massive undertaking in any country in the world to change the mindset. When you take people away from their comfort zones and what they perceive to be normal and acceptable and move them to think otherwise and differently.

Le Golf National has changed its mind-set. We analyse in order to act. We anticipate the needs of our customers. We listen more, and try to do better instead of being too often on the defensive – believing our customers were “difficult”.

We go beyond expectations and through sheer hard work, determination, and pleasure, we eliminate dissatisfaction. We are making sure our customers realize the value of our offer.

Our company is customer driven – our customers dictate our path. Our customers run the company!

Realizing all four letters words are not so bad!

Some will argue that empathy is the greatest asset to any human being – especially in management. What if that was LOVE? That four-letter word is too commonly reserved for other facets of human life but not enough is the relationship between provider and client or business and customer.

We realized that 87% of our customers, when they leave Le Golf National after their experience will share it, share their thoughts, share their memories and if so, regrettably, share their deceptions or their criticisms.

Digitalizing word of mouth has meant that we can longer count on someone physically talking to someone about their experience – for rich or for poor, for good or for bad – but they will post it.

Post it for the whole world to see, and they will do that sometimes anonymously behind an unrecognizable pseudo, in the comfort of their own homes with their laptop or I pad on their knees.

Word of mouth has gone viral! It reaches hundreds, thousands and if you’re really an influencer – hundreds of thousands!!

Imagine what they would have meant if Le Golf National did not take the bold steps to change and become its destiny!

Giving love to customers also becomes a kind of drug for staff. An upward spiral towards success where competing against our own excellence levels becomes a fun activity.

In such a fast-moving world where media and social networks can make or break an image, or put a stain on a brand – love has to be part of your vocabulary!

Digital Word of Mouth and employee experience innovation and development

The right people in the right place at the right time!

One of the toughest parts of any change process is the mind-set of existing staff. Status quo, habits, comfort zones, thinking inside the box are all obstacles to a smooth change.

Some people are motivated by salary and conditions, but most people find satisfaction, motivation and positive thinking in the value they consider to have for the company.

If you try to do the same thing over and over again – nothing will change…. This is true for human resources too.

Two minor changes to our staffing methods at Le Golf National have had massive game changing roles to our organisation!

Firstly, we brought in transverse missions at all levels of the company. A member of staff who had more than a couple of years of working experience in the company has been offered the possibility to take part in steering committees.

Also, some, even several, taking on an operational role for some form of innovation in our plan to lead. Some have gone as far as even moving on to a more managerial role in following through a new process from inception to delivery. We gave no limits to expressing talents.

This has not necessarily been accompanied by a formal change in role or position, even maybe salary but it has enabled otherwise « bored » staff to take an “invested interest” in the company business plan and corporate long-term vision. Making sure they take their ideas passed the posts!

Le Golf National employee exprience innovation in practice

Secondly, we did not have to change the staff to achieve our objectives. On the contrary, we had to detect under developed talent and reposition it where our facility needed it.

As we mentioned before in the article – we were not giving enough attention to the customer. We were doing what we thought was right but were not thinking out of the box.

We changed the position title of numerous employees. Not necessarily changing their job description and not necessarily going through long periods of training and change. Just changing the title under their names. Enabling them to focus differently and often adding value to previously undervalued jobs.

Customer service and customer care titles replaced reception officer or hostesses.

Not much change in the daily job, but a whole new way at looking at a day of work! What is my role? – taking care of reception or serving and caring for the customer. Just that one quick spiritual change took us leaps and bounds towards our objective – excellence and total satisfaction.

Le Golf National employee exprience innovation in practice in the clubhouse

Open and closed doors..

The saying goes – time is money. Well spend your time wisely and correctly for your business.

One major difficulty in management, especially in our companies open 7 days a weeks and long hours in summer is finding the right amount of time for everybody as mentioned in the introduction above.

Everybody being customers, colleagues, stakeholders and governance! A simple method, which has served well, is open and closed doors.

Finding that perfect balance between being considered too unavailable to be being overwhelmed by too many interruptions and too much dependence!

When my office door is open – I am available for chat, guidance, reassurance, quick decisions. When my office door is closed – I am busy, need confidentiality and not available for anyone anytime.

The door Open factor means you are at the disposal with unlimited access to staff during those open door hours. Without needing an appointment – you become accessible and staff of all levels, from each department have a possibility to exchange with you as much as they want during those periods.

You’ll notice as time flies – their need will diminish and that open door becomes their comfort in the knowledge that….

This policy has helped us move quickly on transparency in change.

Circulating information, supporting middle management and keeping the atmosphere working in favour of working staff and eradicating toxic environments and those who cultivate that.


We all achieve more together, and nothing can be achieved alone.

We are only as good as our teams and they are only as good as or better than what you mould them in to be. Our modern connected world is taking us to a connected management and a connected relationship with our customers.

Bringing the human touch, the love and the constant contact is the key to success.

However good your courses are, however on line and digitalized your communications may be – nothing will beat your attention to human development and customer care.

It’s all about the folks!