Effective communication is key to customer satisfaction in virtually every industry. Because communication is a common part of daily life, however, this important responsibility is oftentimes taken for granted. But the truth is that communication — especially in professional environments — isn’t always as easy or as automatic as many people are inclined to think. And this is especially true in the hospitality industry. A few of the most common challenges that hotel workers commonly come across include:
•Guests who are hurried, tired, or frustrated, and therefore do not communicate their wants and needs clearly.
•Guests who expect workers to anticipate their wants and needs — even those that are not necessarily standard in the industry.
•Language and cultural barriers that may exist when guests travel to different countries or regions.
Because customer satisfaction is so important in the hotel industry — which relies heavily on recommendations, reviews, and ratings — it is crucial for hotel industry workers to master the communication skills needed to ensure the happiness of their guests. Unfortunately, many hospitality schools have yet to formally institute communications classes as a component of their degree program. In this article, we will offer a few pointers for clearer and more effective communication in-person, online, and over the telephone.
• Active listening. Studies have shown that, under normal circumstances, people only tend to retain about half of all the information that they hear. This is not a recipe for personal or professional success! Making a conscious effort to listen, retain information, and incorporate it will help make you a better customer representative and a better person in general.
• The intangibles. There is much more to conversation than just the words being said. Managing your body language, your tone, you eye contact, etc. — and paying close attention to how the other person uses these non-verbal signals — can make you a better communicator. This can be especially important when language/cultural barriers exist.
• Be prepared for the situation. In professional circumstances, it is oftentimes possible to anticipate many of the questions, concerns, and requests that guests will have. Being prepared will reduce your risk of being caught without words.
• Everything above still matters. Some intangible elements of conversation such as tone and vocabulary choice still apply in telephone conversations. And picking up on these cues through active listening and good preparation become extra important in the absence of physical presence.
• Names matter. Introduce yourself right away. And get the guest’s name as quickly as possible. This will help the conversation feel more natural and professional.
• Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself. Achieving mutual understanding is far more important than playing it cool.
• Consider following up with an email. This is a great technique that ensures understanding and provides documentation protecting you from any claims that you didn’t communicate clearly. It also brings us to the final section of this article…
• Subject lines help establish the subject and set the tone, so write them carefully.
• Be concise and focused as possible, as this will make things much easier on your guest.
• Avoid attachments whenever possible, as they can be hindersome and may not get opened.
• Don’t assume privacy — you should write every professional email as if it were going to be read by both the CEO of your company and the general public, because both options are entirely possible!
• Respond promptly, because leaving a guest waiting is the opposite of professionalism.
• Identity yourself and provide contact info so that you can be reached as needed.
Visit We Hoteliers regularly for more useful information for people working in the hotel industry!
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