This is the second of the three-part article series on effectively using technology and treating it as your cash register so that the approach and training everyone takes is with the level of seriousness that is needed to keep your inn business growing and operating smoothly. This article covers etiquette around replying to phone and internet queries and how much time is reasonable to allow between query and response, and some training guidelines.
If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, start there for a more cohesive read.
Here are some tips I learned about phone etiquette that I think can be translated to communication in general.
- Lower your shoulders before answering the phone or responding to electronic messages to relax your body which relaxes your mind and response.
- Smile as you answer the phone or electronic message.
- Train your mind so that your voice — spoken or typed — is calm, quiet, and well paced.
- Focus on what is happening in the communication, especially on the phone; we only retain 20 percent of what we hear so give your undivided attention.
- Make a note of the person’s name and use it, though not too frequently.
- Nurture the potential guest.
- Ask for the sale.
- Be memorable.
- Be positive and confident.
Remember that a man’s name is, to him, the sweetest and most important sound in any language. —Dale Carnegie
- Say you are sorry (find a positive way of conveying the same message).
- Say “Bye bye”.
- Hang up or end the electronic conversation first.
- Use argumentative or defensive statements, or unpleasant words.
- Avoid phone calls or bad reviews.
- Be without pencil or paper, or calendar for that matter.
- Neglect your Reputation Management browsing.
- Have barriers to communication (background noise, slang, jargon, or speaking to someone else while you are on the phone).
- Get involved with guests’ vacation planning.
In the phone-reservation world, some people feel that a busy signal indicates it is a busy place and worth waiting to get through for reservations. Others feel a busy signal is too frustrating and won’t try the call too many times. Some people won’t leave a message on voice mail, even in our fast-paced lives of today. Similarly, in the online-reservation world, people don’t want a delayed response when they ask about your availability; they want to inquire and book or move on. Make sure your online reservation systems are prompt and accurate.
This topic is a controversial one because of the complexity of phone systems and inn styles. If the phone call sets the mood of your inn, you must decide what mood is set by a busy signal, an unanswered phone/too many rings, voice mail, or being put on hold. One solution when you are on a phone call and another comes in, is to quickly get the second caller’s name and number and call them back. My personal preference is, in my outgoing message, to ask the caller to leave voice mail, and include a promise to call back quickly, stating a specific window of time within which the call will be returned.
Nobody should answer the phone or email query until they have been properly and thoroughly trained on:
- Room configurations and selling points as well as prices.
- Food details.
- Rules — smoking (tobacco or marijuana), animals, kids, check-in/-out, cancellation, etc.
- Directions to the inn from a variety of locations, and transportation services available
- Local events and attractions.
- Special events the inn is hosting.
- Phone sales techniques.
Adopt these good communication skills:
- Avoid negative feedback.
- Empathize with the person speaking.
- Listen between the lines.
- Listen for attitudes and ideas.
- Record the information from the call in a notebook by the phone or a computer notepad.
- Repeat what you hear, and in several ways.
Next week’s article, Part 3, covers more on etiquette.