English-speaking countries have always been popular as work destinations for people from around the globe. Decent pay, fair working practices and good living conditions in places such as Australia, New Zealand, America and the UK mean that these countries attract talented workers from all different parts of the world. Popular careers include jobs in hospitality, where excellent customer service is a must.
Customer-facing roles need to be filled by people who can prove that they have what it takes to communicate well with customers and ultimately satisfy their needs. In this article, we share some tips on training hotel staff in English to provide the very best customer service.
The Magic Ingredient of Amazing Customer Service
We often talk about the benefits to office-based businesses of improving English communication skills for staff – it enhances the effectiveness of communication and delivers clarity to clients, leading to more successful professional outcomes all round. But the boardroom is far from the only place where language skills can make all the difference. Hotels, restaurants and service providers (such as energy and telecommunications companies) also rely on excellent communication via exceptional customer service.
Customer service means providing support and advice to customers as they book a room, order a meal or seek help with a problem. But providing the best customer service means making the customer feel so important and cared for that they will remain a customer for life, singing your praises to their friends and colleagues, and sending more customers to your hotel. The critical ingredient for customer service nirvana? Communication.
The Recipe for Success: Two Parts Non-verbal . . .
The recipe for communication success in a hotel service environment comes in three parts, and the first two parts are non-verbal.
We may be language specialists, but we have no problem acknowledging that an integral part of positive communication is body language. When training your hotel staff, encourage them to smile at guests and adopt open, welcoming body language – head up, arms and legs uncrossed, and shoulders back.
The second part is also mainly non-verbal – listening. Train your staff in the art of truly listening to your guests’ needs and asking pertinent questions to get to the root of what the customer needs. Good listening involves not interrupting people as they explain what they require. You can then paraphrase the customers’ requests or problems to check that you have really understood them and can give them what they want, or help them solve a problem.
. . . To One Part Verbal
The third part of positive communication is verbal: speaking. Encourage your staff to be friendly but formal. Greet guests – whether on the phone, in person or even in an online chat – with ‘Hello, how may I help you today?’ or ‘Good morning/afternoon/evening, how can I be of service?’ If the customer is ordering something – a hotel room, a meal, a spa treatment – encourage your staff to repeat the order back to the customer to clarify that they have understood everything correctly. That is good customer service. The best service involves going a bit further and asking if the customer needs anything else at all – a wake-up call in the hotel room, some water for the table, an extra towel for the spa. If the customer is unhappy about something, remind your staff not to take any complaints personally but to offer empathy. Say: ‘I’m very sorry you experienced that,’ or ‘I’m going to try and solve that for you.’ Ensure that your staff know your premises, menu, conference facilities or spa treatments inside-out so that they can problem-solve and offer constructive solutions with confidence.
Finally, your staff need to be able to say an impactful ‘thank you’ to the customer. ‘Thank you for visiting us today, please come again soon’ goes a long way to making a great impression and leaving the guest with the rosy glow of feeling really looked after.
Communicating effectively may sound easy, but it takes practice to operate at the top of your game. For larger organisations (such as a hotel chain), a bad experience in one location may even impact a customer’s perception of all locations – but a consistently good experience at every location can reinforce the customer’s perception of the quality of your service.
If you need any help in training your hotel staff to improve their language skills so they can deliver excellent customer service in English, please contact us today.