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How Microexpressions Can Help Your Customer Service

In this modern age of technology and e-marketing Sales are not an easy task to accomplish. There is competition all around and loyalty is an obsolete concept. Everyone is looking for a deal and the best value for their dollar.

Under such circumstances any tools that can enhance Sales strategies are welcome. One such idea that is new to us humans and is helpful in various fields of operation is known as “Reading Facial Expressions.” It sounds like a secretive, mystical activity. However, the science of microexpressions is used in various professions and by multiple agencies. Dr. Paul Eckman has led this research for several decades. This tool can help decode the human face and the feelings harbored behind these expressions.

The science of ‘Microexpressions’ or decoding the human face is used by Law Enforcement agencies, Global and National organizations to fight terrorists and uncover criminal activities. These agencies include the FBI, CIA, Interpol and other state and local law enforcement authorities.

Dr. Eckman worked with Disney Pixar illustrators to help them depict much more vivid expressions on the faces of their characters. These skills are helpful in professions such as counseling psychology and Judges statements who are looking for the absolute truth. This skill can also be used in gaming situations such as Chess and Poker. Since there are so many multiple uses of this skill why not use it in the process of Sales. It is capable of unleashing a super power to the Sales Pros. If the sales professional can effectively decipher the feelings of a client by reading his/her Facial expressions then they can craft a sales pitch suited to the individual needs/tastes of their client.

The language of Facial expressions is a universal language and reveals the same emotions of a person regardless of color, class, origin or sexual orientation including sightless people, allowing one to decipher the emotions of any individual across all barriers. It also helps in better communication with people around you. The skill can be acquired via training online or in workshops.

There are diverse benefits from learning this skill; such as learning to spot hidden emotions and to better understand other individuals, improving your emotional intelligence thereby increasing awareness of your own feelings, you can significantly enhance relationships, increase your capacity for empathy and last but not least help others feel better understood and needed.

Hiring and Training Employees

Interview

Hospitality is about service and service is about people, hence people are the backbone of every industry.

Hiring, training and retaining employees is very critical for the service industry, especially great, service-oriented talent. This is not news to professionals in the hospitality industry. It is something all managers and owners struggle with regularly and have been for decades with no easy solution for it. Lately, hospitality companies have been using technology to automate parts of the hiring process to make it easier for the human resources department. Online tools and job boards have made it easier to find and screen qualified candidates. It is also helpful to screen unsuitable candidates by phone and then interview in person. Final decision should be based on the needs of the job and the most experienced person may not be the best. It is the overall attributes that make a candidate desirable. Although, technology may be leveraged to make the process of hiring and training easier, humans will continue to be crucial to the delivery of exceptional customer service. Do we give employees the tools to succeed? Do they learn about and recognize your frequent guests/customers? Do they care about the companies reputation and success? Personalization is the key to this success and has to be part of the training program. We all know how expensive it is to acquire and train new employees and how much less productive they are compared to our well trained, long term employees. Employees generate incremental revenue by being efficient at what they do hence it is critical that we retain experienced and valuable staff. They play a critical role in the guest experience which results in increased business and eventually in enhanced profits. Go beyond the job description and determine how to attract the right candidates for the job under consideration. One should check social media as a potential employee. All the various sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn offer insight into work culture. You should be able to tell a story whereby a potential employee should be able connect with the company culture. That means instead of describing the company’s benefit policy state its recycling program or its green initiatives. Another aspect is to remove corporate clutter by removing meaningless job titles.

Hire the right people, just having a warm body at the reception desk is not going to take care of the guests. You need to invest in the people and hire right the first time. If the staff is friendly and trained adequately they will take care of the guest and correct any issues that arise. Your staff can help you avoid any lost revenue and lost customers. It is the management’s responsibility to hire staff who work with a sense of urgency and have a history of achieving customer satisfaction consistently. The GM plays a critical role in this area. If the manager is not in tune with the available resources and technology, neither is the team. Training is a crucial element in the creation of well informed, dedicated, loyal employees. Employees should be able make personal and professional goals as part of their employment criteria. They should be taught the process and value of a ‘SWOT’ analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) and then asked to conduct one for themselves. They should share this information at employee gatherings. This will help all employees in sharing suggestions and improve their performance with ideas from other co-workers. Employee engagement is a key driver of performance and retention. Therefore, it is essential for companies to look at this aspect of employment during the training process. It is critical to focus on employee needs and concerns in a new manner and create strategies to improve these areas. We need to realize the importance of the human component of service today and build strategies to train employees in the field and keep them engaged.

Besides hiring and training employees need motivation and incentive to perform well. Motivation can arise from knowing the company objectives and objectives. Hence it is critical to share this information with employees. In order to encourage desirable performance employees should be rewarded when they achieve the goals set forth for themselves and the company at large. Simple rewards such as employee picnics, movie passes and other small incentives can be a motivational tool also. Other monetary rewards such as cash sharing upon achieving the company’s financial goals can go a long way. There are several examples of such rewards in an additional blog included on this site. We certainly hope that this will help you hire and train well informed, productive employees.

Incentivizing Employees

hotel room

A major challenge in the Hospitality industry is how to keep employees motivated. As we all know, turnover in this Industry is at record high numbers and the process of recruiting and training employees on an ongoing basis causes financial stress. It also takes away time and incentive from other employees. In light of these challenges it is essential to find means to motivate and reward dedicated, loyal and hardworking employees.

There are various means of recognizing and rewarding employees. We will try to list a few here and hope that you will find some that will work for your organization.

  1. Executive Hospitality offers Front Desk Agents and the Guest Services Manager incentive based on daily Sales. The staff has a goal to achieve total sales to exceed by $50 over same day sales for the previous year. Upon accomplishing the goal management awards $25 to be accrued for a period of one month. On days that the goal is not achieved $15 is deducted from the cumulative amount. At the end of the month the total amount is distributed among the staff based on the number of hours worked by each individual. There are no negative consequences if the goal is not met. This program has been very successful for the past three years and continues to do so.
  2. At Pegasus Personal Fitness, the president asks employees to list incentives ranging from $25 to $100 that they would like to receive for reaching weekly and monthly goals. Instead of generic, commonplace prizes they have been awarded tickets to rock concerts, limo rides and time off. Due to the nature of the customized incentives, sales have doubled in the past six years.
  3. A hotel based in Minneapolis has a program designed to increase employee retention and improve service. The hotel awards points for being on time, providing good service to guests, improving quality, reaching departmental goals, and referring new employees. The points are usually awarded by managers, but customer service points are also tabulated from comment cards and during quarterly evaluations. Managers are rewarded for reducing turnover and costs, increasing guest returns and comment cards and when implementing suggestions. The highlight of the program is that besides standard gifts such as  household items, golf clubs and other merchandise employees can opt for bus passes, free child care at the day-care center and funds for educational purposes.

We certainly hope that these ideas will help and may even light a spark in your own mind to create an incentive that will work for your establishment and that you can share with others. If you have questions, or want to begin implementing an incentive program at your company, feel free to reach out to us at 636-293-5280.

How to Have Fun Working at the Front Desk and Be Successful at the Same Time

FrontDesk

If you are currently working at a front desk as a service provider or if you plan to do so in the near future, here are a few handy hints about being successful. Note that this list is only a beginning. By no means is it totally complete or does it cover all contingencies.

  1. Get plenty of sleep the night before your shift. Arrive at work well rested.
  2. Come to work early, in plenty of time to get all the change of shift information that you will need.
  3. Approach each shift with a positive frame of mind.
  4. Remember that when you are interacting with guests, you are the hotel.
  5. Always keep in mind that delivering quality guest services is your first priority.
  6. Smile a lot when interacting with guests and fellow service providers.
  7. Keep in mind that your job is to service not only external customers (guests) but also internal customers – those people who also work at the hotel but who rely on you to get things done and perform your job well.
  8. Remember that practicing quality guest service requires that you are good at procedural service as well as personal service. One is not sacrificed for the sake of the other. Both are emphasized and practiced.
  9. Be genuinely enthusiastic about being a service producer. If you can’t be, find another job.
  10. Stay flexible. Be open to new demands and experiences.
  11. When a large family check into one room, anticipate that they may need extra towels or perhaps a hide-a-bed.
  12. Take care of all requests for room repair and maintenance immediately.
  13. Be willing to learn and open to learning new ways of doing things.
  14. Try to tell a guest what you can do, not what you can’t do. Keep it positive.
  15. Always greet a guest with a smile.
  16. When you are tired, don’t show it especially in front of the guests.
  17. Be an attitude catalyst. Infest other with your positive attitude.
  18. Refer to a guest by name whenever and wherever you can/ Especially during check-in, call the guest by name at least two or three times.
  19. After check-in is complete, say, “Thank you, Mr./Mrs. Doe. Have a great stay.”
  20. When passing a guest outside the front desk, in the hallway, or out on the patio, always smile and say hello.
  21. Pre-room assign large tour groups and delegate key distribution to the tour director.
  22. Always, always keep in constant touch with housekeeping, and say “thank you” to them a lot.
  23. Look for cues such as age, attire, group mix, body language, or verbal abilities to determine any possible service needs a guest may have.
  24. When booking reservations, get all needed information and ask about any special needs the guest may have.
  25. Avoid the five forbidden phrases: “I don’t know.” “We can’t do that.” “You’ll have to…” “Hang on a second. I’ll be right back.” Saying “no” at the beginning of a sentence.
  26. Anticipate guest needs, Be one step ahead of them so that you can provide service without them having to ask.
  27. Have plenty of toiletry supplies for guest emergencies available.
  28. Genuinely enjoy working with guests, other service providers, and managers. Be a people person. If this is not you, find another job.
  29. Remain guest focused. Constantly work toward understanding what it is that they need and helping them to feel welcome, comfortable, and important.
  30. Smile, smile, smile!

This post originally appeared in introduction to hospitality, from William B. Martin.

Four Benefits of Having Your Own Website

Benefits_of_Website

There is confusion about having a website for your business, especially if a corporate website has already been created. A lot of business owners believe that they’re covered if they have a corporate site, and see no reason to pay someone to create one on a private domain. You might be surprised to hear otherwise. Honeyfront has created numerous websites for businesses within the hospitality industry, and now hundreds of people visit each of those sites every day. Many potential customers (especially those who are local) are now finding these businesses online, and wouldn’t if a website didn’t exist. If you do not have your own site, you should consider it. To help you understand the process, we put together this list of four benefits of having your own website:

  • Having your own website gives Google a chance to see your hotel as a separate business in your area. Right now it sees your business as one little piece of a major corporate website – and that does not help you when people are searching in your area.
  • Having your own website gives you the chance to collect reservation information and, potentially, make those reservations without any fees. You keep the money.
  • Having your own website allows you to control what your guests see, and making edits is simple. During the busy season you can show photos of the local fair or the big concert coming to town. During the slow season, you can show photos of people relaxing after a road trip and enjoying a nice and quiet morning in your lobby. Those little changes go a long way in how people perceive your property.
  • Having your own website sets you apart from the competition. A responsive and informative website is essential, and is now the equivalent of a guest asking for a key to look at a room before making a purchase. A website is the new doorman, working around the clock, always greeting guests and sharing information 24/7.

For an example website that Honeyfront has created for a business, click here.

We want to ensure to answer any questions that you may have. If you are interested in a website, we can get to work immediately. The investment that you make upfront will pay dividends for a long time to come. If you want to chat more, ask questions or get to work, give us a call at 636-293-5280.