In the hospitality industry, amazing customer service is the key to establishing a strong reputation, driving word-of-mouth, attracting new guests, and boosting revenue year-over-year. To increase the amount of bookings you take each month, you’ll need to make customer service a priority at your property.
To make your guests feel welcomed and excited to tell their friends about you, you can’t just focus on controlling what they see and experience as soon as they walk through your doors—in order to make a lasting impression on them, you have to start much earlier. It should really all begin with the first human interaction they have with your property. For a lot of travelers, that first human interaction happens when they talk to a reservation agent for the first time.
As a property manager, you control how that initial interaction plays out. Your agents are the ones having the conversations with potential guests, but it’s your job to ensure that each of them has the training and skills needed to make a the right first impression with travelers who choose to reach out.
To help your new reservation agents excel at customer service, follow these 6 tips:
Tip #1: Offer Training Resources
To help your newest reservation agents improve upon their customer service skills, start by asking them to go through a handful of helpful training resources, handpicked by you and the rest of your leadership team. Your goal should be to provide your employees with resources that help them understand what your general philosophies are when it comes to customer service, as well as how to approach interactions with your target audience specifically.
If you’re not sure where to start, explore some of these blog posts from Help Scout (a leading voice in the customer service space) and decide if any could be used as training material for your team:
- 15 Customer Service Skills that Every Employee Needs – help your reservation agents understand the skills they need to possess and practice in order to excel as customer service practitioners.
- 15 Tips from World-Class Customer Service Teams – allow your reservation agents to learn from the successes and failures of other customer service specialists who have come before them.
- The 27 Best Customer Service Books – give your reservation agents access to a great list of books that they can go through in order to become better communicators with prospects and customers.
If none of these resources really stand out for you, a better option might be to spend a day or two working with your existing team of reservation agents and other managers to develop a customer service course that new employees can go through after they get hired.
If you decide to try this idea, make sure that you take the time to be as specific as possible with the content you present to new employees. Try to incorporate as many specific examples and real-life situations as possible in order to help your new hires understand how to best communicate and engage with your target audience.
Tip #2: Develop Consistent Voice & Language
To ensure that every guest gets the same positive experience when they interact with your reservation agents, work to develop specific voice and language guidelines for your team. When it comes to building an effective customer service team, consistency is incredibly important. As a manager, you need to feel confident that each of your reservation agents understands how to speak to customers and guests.
The best way to do this is by creating a working document for your team to reference that describes the language and voice you want them to use. If you’ve never created anything like this for your team in the past, start building one by working with your team to answer these questions:
- Who is our ideal customer?
- What are our primary customer personas?
- What kinds of information are people usually looking for when they reach out to us?
- How do we want our guests to feel when they interact with someone from our resort for the first time?
- What is the message we are trying to get across to people?
- What are the 5 words we use to describe our brand voice (ex. conversational, upbeat, professional, helpful, human).
- What common industry or property-specific words do we regularly use in conversations with guests?
- What personality traits and guidelines about tone, voice, and language can we standardize that can help our team be more consistent?
- What guidelines should we put in place for written communication? What is our writing style and how does it differ from our speaking style?
Once you have the answers to these questions in hand, you can start to formulate official recommendations for your reservation agents on how to approach communication with guests.
For more help on how to create a style, voice, or language guide for your reservation agents, explore these resources:
- Finding Your Brand’s Voice from Distilled
- How to Satisfy Customers Using the Right Tone of Voice from Zendesk
- How to Create a Succinct and Effective Brand Voice, Tone, and Style from Salesforce
Tip #3: Streamline Communication
You can also help your reservation agents become better at customer service by giving them the tools they need to streamline communication. Again, remember that the key to excelling at customer service is consistency.
If your reservation agents have to recreate the wheel every time they need to write an email response or follow-up over the phone, they’re never going to have the time to think about how to present guests with the right experience. Instead, they’re going to be stuck in the weeds managing tedious tasks and deciding how to best communicate with and respond to each and every lead they encounter.
By implementing the right communication tools at your property, you can help agents focus on what matters: developing meaningful relationships with potential customers and moving them down the funnel.
TRACK is one tool that you could be using to boost productivity and help your agents become more consistent communicators. TRACK makes it easy for agents to set up canned email responses, automated email follow-up drips, and compelling outreach templates that can be quickly customized for different leads. TRACK also features powerful call center tools that can help you ensure that your agents are consistently providing the same level of engagement and service to each lead when communicating over the phone.
Tip #4: Know What You’re Looking For When You Hire
In order to build an effective team of reservation agents who can provide an amazing experience for your leads and guests, you need to start by hiring the right people. There are a lot of qualities that you can look for when interviewing someone for one of your open agent roles, but at a minimum, the right candidate should possess the following characteristics and traits:
- Natural Problem-Solver – they approach problems with curiosity, enthusiasm, and determination.
- Helpful & Patient – above all they try to be helpful and don’t rush to conclusions until they have all the answers.
- Good Communicator – they are skilled at both verbal and written communication.
- Resourceful – they don’t wait for other people to give them the answers or solve their problems for them. They are creative when it comes to finding solutions.
- Empathetic – they understand and can relate to most human beings on personal level.
- Good Listener – they take the time to listen and give attention to people.
- Hungry to Learn – they are interested in learning more and improving upon their skills.
- Calm & Cool Under Pressure – they don’t get stressed out or lose focus in tough situations.
For more tips on how to find and hire people who can excel at customer service, explore these blog posts:
- Hiring Your Customer Service Dream Team from Help Scout
- How to Find, Interview and Hire Your First Customer Service Agent from Groove
- 7 Customer Service Interview Questions You Need to Ask from Betterteam
Tip #5: Help Them Become Experts and Quiz Them Often
To become effective customer service practitioners, your reservation agents need to know everything there is to know about your resort. They need to become experts that can easily answer any question they encounter when interacting with people who are interested in staying at your resort.
Your reservation agents can’t just reference cold, scripted answers to frequently asked questions from a document whenever a question comes up—they need to be able to have authentic, real, and personalized conversations with people. They need to position themselves as knowledgeable resources who actually know and care about the property they’re ultimately trying to sell others on.
To help them get there, you need to do two things:
- First, you need to work resort education into your onboarding and ongoing training sessions. You should prepare materials that help your employees understand everything they need to know about:
- The history of and general facts about your resort
- The typical costs associated with a stay
- The amenities that help you differentiate from other competitors
- Community and local attractions that guests would be interested in
- Anything else that makes your resort or your area unique
- Second, you need to regularly ‘quiz’ your team on information in order to make sure they are up-to-date and can provide leads and potential guests with the right answers to their questions. This can happen informally during team meetings, over lunch, or in 1-on-1 mentoring sessions.
When your reservation agents know everything there is to know about your resort, they can focus less on finding information and more on developing relationships with leads and nurturing them toward conversion.
Tip #6: Work 1-on-1 With Each New Team Member
The final way you can help your new reservation agents excel at customer service is by taking the time to train and mentor them during 1-on-1 meetings. In 1-on-1 meetings with each of your employees, you should set clear expectations about what it means to create an amazing experience for customers.
Your goal in these meetings should be to help each person on your team understand why customer service is so important, how to interact with leads and customers on a daily basis (using specific examples whenever possible), and what they can do (actionable tips) to improve upon their customer service skills over time.
You can also use these meetings to introduce the new language, voice, and style guidelines you create after reading this article (see tip #4 above).
When you care about improving customer service, your employees care too. Your 1-on-1’s will not only provide you with the opportunity to regularly get everyone on your team on the same page about what your expectations are, but they’ll also give you the chance to personally mentor and develop stronger working relationships with each of your agents.
Over to You
How do you help your reservation agents excel at customer service? Tell me about your specific strategies and ideas in the comments section below.
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