Exceptional customer service is a vital component in the hospitality industry, and is expected regardless of the establishment, or even the country, in which you work.
As the hospitality industry is one of the most challenging and competitive, stellar customer service can be the difference between a good or great experience. This can leave your guests coming back for more, or steering clear at all costs.
As a customer service provider, you need to ensure that your patrons are satisfied with everything you do. Remember, the best establishments in the industry will always do whatever it takes to keep customers happy, and you need to constantly compete with them to continue raising the bar.
Here, Charlotte Quenet-Meintjes from Workaway International South Africa – who has placed thousands of recruits in five star country clubs in the US in customer service positions – provides us with seven key tips on how to exceed expectations at customer service.
Make first impressions count (and last!) – First impressions are everything, and as the ‘face’ of the establishment, you need to make sure yours is one that is remembered. When a guest comes into contact with you, be it during check in, calling to make a reservation or sitting down to order a meal, you need to be friendly, helpful and memorable. “Your first impression often sets the tone for the rest of the guest’s experience, so don’t underestimate this important chance to make your mark. Appearance is vital and employees need to be well groomed and presentable, with a neat and clean uniform,” advises Quenet-Meintjes.
Always display good manners – “Being polite and courteous is an absolute must, and although some guests may be unfair or overly demanding, you should never be rude to a customer,” she explains. Always be polite and offer a warm smile and friendly demeanour which can make even the most difficult of guests a little easier to manage.
Foster professional relationships with guests – Establishing good relationships with guests will grow the business through customer loyalty. “It’s the little things that count – remembering guest’s names and their respective preferences, or going the extra mile – which will ensure that your establishment is the first choice for guests,” she advises. Make sure each guest feels important and acquire the ability to read customers – knowing them and what they like will create a personal and favourable experience for them.
Go above and beyond – Attending to your customer’s every need is the first step to becoming exceptional at delivering customer service. “By making each customer’s experience unique and special you stand out as a service provider, the establishment is remembered, and your services will be recommended to other customers,” says Quenet-Meintjes. This is the perfect way to build up a thriving reputation, which will only benefit you in the future.
Handle complaints well - Customer service is judged by the manner in which the establishment deals with a complaint. Learning to stay cool under pressure will help you reach a quicker solution. “Make sure that your customer has your full attention and always listen to the guest. Show them that the complaint is of real importance to you, and that you will do everything in your power to resolve it. Empathising with the customer will make them feel understood,” she advises. The common mantra is “the guest is always right” but in the instance where a guest is wrong, it is most important that you allow them to be wrong with dignity and that you continue to treat them with respect.
Know your stuff – Know what services and products you are working with and offering the client – there’s nothing worse than being asked a question which you should have the answer to, and not having a suitable response. “Having insight and confidence in what you are doing or saying puts the customer at ease, and you will surely gain their respect,” says Quenet-Meintjes. For example, if you are a server, you should know the correct service etiquette, as well as key menu items and specials. If you are keen on proving yourself as exceptional, make sure that you know what you are doing and do it with confidence!
Have fun - Being a passionate employee that has fun while working will allow you to provide excellent customer service as opposed to an employee who is bored and uninspired. By enjoying what you do, you are bound to have a smile on your face and a spring in your step which will make you more approachable to guests. “If you are enthusiastic about serving your customers and always striving to do the best work possible, you will surely give your customer the best experience available,” she concludes.