We all appreciate the importance of a strong customer service or gaming host team and their effectiveness when it comes to our club or pubs bottom line. However, we rarely arm them with a set of guidelines on how to handle the situations that crop up in their day to day role – a role that comes with heavy responsibilities. Sure, we give them a list of tasks to carry out and teach them basic skills like how to serve a drink, produce a report or activity statement, activate a self-exclusion and so on, but they often have to make crucial decisions “on the run” and mediate in awkward customer situations where they have had no previous experience.
They also have access to huge amounts of highly confidential information, both from the venue as well as the customer side.
While each venue will differ slightly, there are some basic guidelines all customer service and gaming hosts need to be armed with. It might seem like common sense in some instances, but don’t ever assume that everyone will understand these “codes of practice” (see point 5!) and anyway, why take the risk, especially when it comes to your most valuable customers?
Teamwork: Whether a team consists of two people or one hundred and two people, its essential that they are not only all working together toward the same goal, but that they all clearly understand what that goal is. If they don’t, how can they ever be expected to achieve anything? A team also needs a strong leader, someone who communicates the organisation’s vision, leads by example and is not afraid to delegate and give the team credit where credit is due.
Trust and care: Trust is the key to developing a relationship. And integrity and honesty the basis of an ongoing relationship. Negotiations with your members and guests should always be truthful. Never promise what you can’t deliver, and always own your mistakes. There may be times you’ll have to schmooze or even offer unwelcome advice, but don’t ever lie. Show you genuinely care about your customers and they’ll care about you.
Listen: Teach your team to listen to your customers. It’s not just about following a script or telling them what you think they want to hear, or worse still trying to “one-up” a conversation. Listening is the key to effective communication and a powerful sales tool. The ability to truly pay attention to what someone else is saying improves not only the quality of what we hear and understand, but also the enthusiasm and engagement of the other person involved. It is an essential skill when it comes to dispute resolution.
Communication: Clear and concise communication is essential both internally with your team and other departments as well as externally with your guests. It’s crucial to make sure you team works closely with all departments because your members and guests interact with all these different areas and you want to make their experience at your venue as seamless as possible. You want your VIP members to get VIP treatment from the moment they arrive to the moment they leave…and beyond. Make sure you also communicate clearly, and on a timely basis, with your members and guests. That communications may come directly from the Customer Service Team as well as from the Marketing team.
Ask: While we’re talking about communications, your customer service team should be encouraged to ask if they need help or there is something they don’t know. They should never assume. Remember there is always more than one way to do things. If the first solution or idea isn’t working, find the next right answer and seek collaboration for you team or team leader. Additionally, in order to learn more about their guests, customer service hosts need to ask.
Discretion: While it is important to build those relationship, you customer service staff must remember to never let things get too personal. Watch what you team shares with guests – and reinforce that confidentiality is vital. The customer service personnel are the liaison between you guests and your venue, but they should never forget where their loyalties lie.
Document everything: Set up a system, whether it is leaving notes in a dedicated CMS or CRM system or a shared spreadsheet and shift report, or going old school with a notebook and notice board (or a combination of both) – the whole team needs to keep track of relevant information concerning guest interactions, any issues or disputes, current or completed projects etc. You never know when you might need it. Not only is a documented system essential when it comes to any disputes, it forms the basis of your communications system and takes out any guesswork on dates, times, amounts and details. It’s also a handy document for future planning.
Personal Engagement: The more you engage with your guests, the more you develop that relationship. You show you care. You build trust and loyalty, and as that loyalty increases, so does your bottom line. Successful customer service staff always follow up and follow through. A simple, “just checking to see how you are feeling” or “just wanted to let you know about”, goes a long way with most guests. Make it personal. Don’t just rely on SMS or email for engagement.
Be accountable: Encourage your team to know that if they make a mistake (and they will), they need to own it, learn from it and move on. Make sure each person in the team has goals and that they commit to them. Encourage them to work smarter not harder and share what they have learnt.
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