Kisco Senior Living was looking for a way to take its customer service to the next level, and it found a way to do it that no other senior living operator had found before: Kisco signed with the Forbes Travel Guide, which rates luxury hotels, restaurants and spas, to provide training for employees.

“Kisco came to us inquiring about training their staff,” Forbes Travel Guide Senior Vice President of Brand Development Micarl Hill told the Triangle Business Journal. “This request resulted in a true partnership where we created hospitality service standards for them and then provided training to support each and every standard.”

Kisco’s Cardinal at North Hills, a continuing care retirement community in Raleigh, NC, became the company’s — and country’s — first senior living community to participate in the training program.

“The on-site, in-person initial training is 3.5 hours,” Cynthia Williams, Kisco’s operations manager, told McKnight’s Senior Living. The standards cover customer service, professionalism, courtesy, appearance, communication and product knowledge, she added.

Approximately 140 full-time and part-time employees have undergone the training to date, Williams said. Every new hire will have the standards training, too, she said.

“Additionally, Forbes conducted management training, with tools for managers to continue to reinforce the importance of the standards, resident and guest genuine engagement and to sustain consistency throughout the community,” Williams said.

The training, according to Kisco, looks to the industry’s hospitality roots as a way to attract and keep residents.

“Our residents and their guests have lived in the finest places, traveled the world, dined in the most luxurious establishments and held significant positions of influence, so they expect the best,” Cardinal at North Hills Executive Director Tom Ford said. “Our goal is to provide a five-star level of service for our residents.”

The program, however, also is an investment in associates and managers, according to Kisco.

“By taking our service standards to the next level, we empower our associates to anticipate the needs of residents and guests without approval or guidance from the upper management team,” Ford said. “Associates acknowledge that the training has elevated their awareness levels in their personal lives and that they are using the tools outside of work when interacting with people. Residents and guests have both commented on the heightened level of service, and it is an honor to make a positive difference in so many lives.”

The partnership with Forbes is part of an ongoing relationship, according to Kisco.

Employees at Kisco’s La Posada, a CCRC in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, will be trained this month. Workers at Byron Park, an independent and assisted living community in Walnut Creek, CA, will go through the program in October, and staff members at Kisco’s home office in Carlsbad, CA, will be trained in September, Williams said.

Pictured above, from left: Kisco Chief Strategic and Innovation Officer Terri Novak, Cardinal at North Hills Executive Director Tom Ford, Senior Vice President Brian Grandbouche and Operations Manager Cynthia Williams with Forbes Senior Vice President Micarl Hill Sr. (Photo courtesy of Kisco Senior Living)