This is the third 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 is an continuation of etiquette guidelines.
This list is just a reminder of the polite way for you to conduct your telephone business. Following these rules of thumb will give you the reputation for being professional, considerate, and organized. Here are some tried and true phone manners to follow to keep your hospitality front and center:
- Don’t use a speaker phone.
- When calling others, let the phone ring ten times to allow enough time for it to be answered (ten rings is only about one minute). Be prepared; have relevant correspondence and other materials at hand, have note paper and pencil for jotting down notes.
- Identify yourself; use your first and last names, and maybe your inn’s name.
- Return calls — promptly. If you couldn’t talk when you were called, weren’t in, or didn’t have the information that was being requested, and you say you will call back — do.
- When you leave messages, include the times that you will be available so that you avoid phone tag.
- Begin and end phone conversations with your name.
The computer and internet version of these rules are:
- Don’t type in all caps (it’s the equivalent of yelling).
- When responding electronically, allow ample time for responses since not everyone is as email- or internet-centric as you must be in your business. Be prepared; have relevant correspondence and other materials at hand, have note paper and pencil for jotting down notes.
- Use a Signature Block in your emails that identifies your and provides contact information.
- Respond to queries and reviews — promptly.
- When you respond electronically, give as thorough an answer as you can to what was asked and be sure to include the times that you will be available so that you avoid “phone tag”, be it by phone or email.
- Always identify yourself.
…to help you deal with irate callers or reviewers:
- Hear them out.
- Be patient.
- Be tactful.
- Empathize (Feel, Felt, Found — this technique helps diffuse unpleasant situations if you are sincere and use it judiciously).
- Don’t interrupt.
- Acknowledge the problem.
- Strive to find a solution together.
Your phone is an information center for more than potential guests. You place and receive other business calls from there. Information that you definitely need to keep by the phone includes:
- What you are (“Tell me something about your inn.”).
- Where you are (directions from various locations — airport, train station, highway exits).
- Your prices and other information you want every caller to have.
- Important and frequently used phone numbers.
- Emergency numbers.
Your technology is a tool. Use it for what it’s meant for — exchanging information and taking reservations. Don’t let an untrained person answer your phone or respond to your email, just as you don’t let an untrained person work your cash register. Responding to the technology queries you receive is putting money in the cash register, so treat it accordingly — with great respect, professionalism, and hospitality.