Are You Listening to Your Guest?
Good Communication!!! This skill is a pre-requisite for the workplace in most industries, but more especially in Hospitality. Whether it is verbal or non-verbal, communication is essential for enhancing guest experience.
Unfortunately, the terms ‘communication’ and ‘communicator’ are used very lightly, and we have lost the true meaning of what it means to be an effective communicator.
A conversation with your guest is more revealing than it seems. An interesting and interactive one can make your guest return for another stay, give a good review, recommend you and the property. The prospects are unlimited!
As someone who’s been to several hotels and F&B outlets, the experience a guest has with employees makes or breaks their opinion regarding the property. Communication is key for a good experience. So how can you ensure that YOU are effectively communicating with guests?
I would definitely say the first step starts with listening – but not your typical approach to listening. Today, we will be referring to the Chinese Character for listening, ‘听’, and will use its elements to create a guide for being an effective listener.
Ears – To Hear
This is where the common perception of listening starts and ends; the ability to hear. This element refers not only to the words spoken but the way in which the words were spoken, i.e. the pace, tone, etc.
When a guest speaks with an emphasis and slightly quicker, you can identify that they are engaged and interested in the conversation. On the other hand, a guest who speaks in a more monotonous tone and at a slower pace would typically be less interested in returning or recommending . Being able to pick up these cues are important; you can find out a lot about a guest’s opinion through their words but more importantly the intonation, pitch and diction and the feelings with which they are said.
Eyes – To See
Eyes just don’t see, but also communicate and here is where we divert from the common perception of listening. An element of the Chinese Character is ‘Eyes’ i.e. our eyes must connect with the individual who is speaking to us. By using our eyes, we connect with others, reassuring them that they have our complete attention
We can also use our eyes to understand the speakers’ thoughts through their body language. Similar to the tone, pace and emphasis of how the individual speaks – the conversation and their posture, gestures and general enthusiasm reveals their interest more effectively. This non- verbal communication conveys volumes only if we have our eyes open.
Mind – To Think
How do we keep the mind open and what does that mean? When listening, the aim is not only to hear what the speaker is saying, but more to understand and interpret his words and thoughts. In essence, we use our mind to consider the perspective and ideas of the speaker.
Therefore when a guest speaks, it is necessary to listen to him with an open mind, ignoring any prejudice, in order to be completely receptive to what he is saying. Such an analytical approach when listening will help in giving him the most suitable response. So how should we actually respond?
Heart – To Feel
The next key to a good communication then is the heart. This might seem quite odd medically but it is important to use your heart – your intuition – when listening, in order to understand and empathise with the speaker. In the hospitality industry this element is incredibly important. One must experience the emotions being shared by a guest, to understand his needs or feedback on a deeper and emotional level and to assure him that he is being listened to and not just being heard.
Undivided Attention – To Focus
The line in the centre of the Chinese character brings all of these elements together; it represents undivided attention. Where a listener is able to provide this undivided attention leaving aside all distractions, giving complete focus, communication is complete and the speaker has been won over.
This is exactly what a guest wants when they speak to you. They want your undivided attention and by successfully doing this we assure our guests that they have our total attention