- how to impress the guests with your communication skills?
You might have heard people saying that two things, which can destroy any relationship are unrealistic expectations and poor communication? No secret that communication is essential part of our lives and wellbeing. Every strong connection is based on effective communication, and our relationships with the guests are no different.
Interactions with guests are unavoidable, and quality of those is the significant element influencing their satisfaction. Having great communication skills and well knowing the basics of service interactions will create memorable experiences for our guests and bring enjoyment to our days. So what is important in guests’ communication?
Understanding and feeling
To begin with, it is needed to remember that successful communication always has two objectives – understand each other and feel each other. Only knowing which words to use or what and when to say might not bring the optimal outcome. Communication is the two-way road and feeling other person is important. It has a lot to do with empathy and ability to connect with the person we speak, meaning that, what works with one person - might misfit another. For that reason we need to be aware of the guest in front of us, listen carefully and observe to understand how to communicate best.
The well known mirroring technique can come as a helpful tool when establishing rapport and maintaining connection. Mirroring means that we reflect others through our own gestures, expressions or language. Psychologists say that we do it naturally with persons we feel close to, but it is also possible with new people. Mirroring does not mean mimicking others, but more adapting our communication style towards them, so building a stronger connection. For example, we will often notice that guests are very different - some are chatty and open, while others - more reserved or quiet. Following their “style" can help us enhance their experience and leave better impression.
Initiative and enthusiasm
How often do you encounter the following: you enter the restaurant (caffe, hotel or any other establishment for that matter), walk through the the whole lobby, look around, maybe even already find the table to sit - and not a single contact with the staff has yet been established? You can see the staff being busy with various tasks, only not with welcoming you. Sadly, this happens way too often in every day life, and it always makes me wonder, how do businesses manage to fail on such a basic, simple step?
Greeting of the guests is essential in all customer-facing businesses. It is the start of direct interaction and future communication. And the first step is always on us! As soon as guests enter our premises, we need to acknowledge their presence and demonstrate our welcome. The greeting should ideally be enthusiastic and personal (not a “table for two?” kind of thing!), so showing them the respect and attention they deserve. And even though, depending on the situation, sometimes it might be just an insignificant friendly nod - it still indicates we see and care for them. Just like a famous quote says, we should never forget - “the customer is not an interruption of our work - he is the purpose of it”. Don’t wait for them to greet us - it is our responsibility to do so first. Because, like in many other life situations, you snooze - you loose!
Small talk and use of names
Oh that awkward, weird small talk! Many of us could never enjoy it, others - absolutely love it. Some people are real masters in short meaning - full(less?) conversations while others struggle with it even in the environment of closest people. And while we all have our own opinion and feelings around the small talk, it is important in service communication.
During guests’ interactions, we should not see the small talk as only the talk about the weather. It can also perfectly be used for other purposes - such as, for example, finding out important information about the guests, expressing sympathy or attention, as well as demonstrating the human touch. Comments or questions about their day, compliments on their look or choice or similar, helps us build a more personal and natural human connection instead of sticking to the cold and lifeless business talk.
The same goes for using guests’ names. The first or last name (depending on your business profile and concept) helps us to bring communication to a more personal level, demonstrating the guests that they are important and not considered only a number. The whole interaction becomes more exclusive and focused on a certain person, instead of generalised. People have a close emotional connection with their names, so hearing them in service interactions calls out positive reactions. Sometimes we might be surprised, what a different it makes, when we call our guests by names. So if you ever have a chance to do it - don’t miss it!
Successful service interaction requires more than only being reactive to the guests needs. During every communication our goal is not only to provide what they ask for, but to foresee their unexpressed needs and impress them with our proactive solutions. To do so, we need to become great empathetic listeners, who are able to identify the hidden information our guests are not directly proving. Focusing on guests' communication and searching for clues is the secret to success. Has the guest required about gym's opening times? We can tell him hours, or we could also advise on the busiest (or most quiet) time. Has the guest wondered about the cocktail price? We can name that or inform about the happy hour on top. Have guests mentioned they are wine lovers? Why not to ask about their favourite choice?
Details matter - be the one to notice them!
Body language and tone
Communication is the complex matter which consist of different elements. It is not only the words we say, but the way we do it as well. It is also the tone we use or gestures which accompany words. Differently said, our body language and the voice tone matter, as much as the language does. Just like the famous quite states "The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn't being said” (Shannon L. Alder).
A big part of communication happens before we even start a conversation. It is the way we move, how we interact with others, which posture we hold, etc. Without us realising, guests see and observe us more that we think. Ensuring we are always presentable and professional is important. Grumpy faces or sloppy postures have no place in service environment, and the eye contact and smile do wonders! Let’s remember that!
Just like mentioned above, professional appearance and approach is important. Demonstrating service attitude is a must, but maintaining our individuality and character also. No one likes business clones - people who look, act and speak the same. Just like our guests are different and unique - we should be as well. Finding our own way and simply being “us" in interactions with guests is the game changer. Because very often, what makes our guests come back, is not our menu or pillow offer, but all Marias, Giorgos or Alis, who were not afraid to be themselves.