The hospitality industry is not everybody’s cup of tea, I have learnt this at the university as one of our lecturers used to say; “hospitality is like opera, the first time you go to opera you either love it or hate it. Once it gets under your skin, you are infected, and you cannot get away”. After 34 years in this business, I can confirm that this analogy is true!
To be able to advance your career, you need to love to help people (even difficult ones), and it requires certain skills to be able to deliver consistent and continuous satisfaction from your customers.
There are a lot of books and articles on this subject, and I thought I could give it a go and provide my spin on this subject.
Patience is the key skill you should have for any business but especially customer facing roles. If you are dealing with customers on a daily basis, you need to stay patient when they approach you confused, angry and frustrated as you need to take time to truly figure out what has happened, how they feel and most importantly how you can build trust to resolve the matter with their satisfaction.
Being patience is a great skill, but it needs to be accompanied by empathy. Your guests need to feel that you genuinely understand their needs, recognise what went wrong and respect them as a person, rather than simple generic and robotic impersonal answers. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself how would you feel; once you see the problem with their eyes than you are on the right course to resolve it.
3. Active Listening / Ability to "Read."
In today’s changing world you are not necessarily providing customer service face-to-face; it could be over the phone, email, chat app or over the internet. Therefore, active listening is not only applying hearing someone, but it also requires to read their emotional state effectively. You need to actively look and listen for subtle clues about their current mood, patience level, personality, use of language & terms they express themselves, expectations and this will help to create a personable experience and positive outcomes.
4. Handling Pressure / A Calming Presence
Staying cool, calm and collective under pressure is an ability rather than a skill. If you have this ability and use it as a tool, it will allow you to calm other person and positively influence and encourage them to work together to find a solution to their problems.
5. Product Knowledge
Whatever sector or section you are working, it is extremely important that you know the product or service you provide to your customer with all the details in a level that you use it every day and therefore understand pits and falls as well as how you get most out of it. Your product knowledge will help you not only empathy your guest and also provide personable interaction with them so that they can truly see you have a deep knowledge of how your product and/or services work.
6. Clear Communication Skills
When it comes to important points that you need to relay clearly to customers, keep it simple and leave nothing to doubt. Mumbling, losing focus, or using unclear language could be fatal. Therefore, you need to be empathetic, professional, positive and communicate well with customers.
7. Acting Skills
We all need to accept that there is a big chance to come across some people that you will never be able to make happy. Some of these situations could be out of your control such as they had a very bad day or they might be a natural born complainer; you need to have great acting skills to maintain your usual bubbly personality dealing with every kind of situation.
8. Taking Responsibility / Can do attitude
You need to be positive and taking responsibility for your customer’s care. Instead of using negative “can’t” or “won’t” you should accept that something went wrong and using “can” or “will” sentences to assure that you are willing to resolve the issue to their satisfaction. You also need to show that you acknowledge that there is something wrong and appreciate the customer bringing this issue to your attention and ultimately you will take actions to make sure that you address the issue to eliminate happening again in the future.
9. Follow Through
The customers never like the idea to deal with several different people, and therefore, when they realised that you are not the person, they will simply ask for the manager. So, be the person who sticks with it until the problem is solved. Your work ethic should motivate you to do whatever it takes, however long it takes. When you follow the problem through to the end, the customer knows you went the extra mile, and it will come back to you ten-fold.
10. Closing Ability
Being able to close with a customer means being able to end the conversation with confirmed satisfaction (or as close to it as you can achieve) and with the customer feeling that everything has been taken care of (or will be).
Rather than offering something as compensation, you need to present yourself a committed person who really care about your customer and want to get the things right. “$” sign as compensation does not make anything right and therefore; you need to be able to openly ask “how could I make it right for you?” You will see that 9 out of 10 times the customer will soften and will work together with you. When you provide your solution always give at least two option to your customer. So that, they will feel they have the power to choose, and it is their decision at the end!
And of course, do not forget to “Thank” the guest bringing this issue to your attention and allowing you to resolve it with their satisfaction. And always invite them back to show how you implemented the changes to perfect your services.