We live in a fast pace world where everyone is competing for the attention of the customer. As service leaders we have to go back to the basics. Hospitality is mastering the fundamentals of a warm gracious welcome. Hospitality begins at the door.
The very first moments of face to face contact with our customers can start the magical journey to a delightful relationship. Those vital moments can sometimes be taken for granted by service professionals now a days.
A customer’s first impression is even more significant more than ever due to the rise of social media feedback power. In the past, customers usually waited until after they left the business establishment before posting their feedback on line. Now, with customers tweeting and posting Facebook updates about their experiences almost in real time, a poor first impression can be immediately broadcast to hundreds—even thousands.
You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression in anything in life. The experience stays there forever. You don’t have to be a customer or a business owner to understand the meaning of first impressions. We can create those meaningful moments in our daily interactions with people we meet every day. We are drawn to people who make us feel important and valued. The Golden Rule applies here. How do you want to be treated and welcomed?
When I began my career in the hotel business, I learned from one of my mentors the simplicity of a warm welcome. “Welcome every customer like it’s your favorite person in the world walking into the hotel.” Imagine the customer delight to your warm exciting gesture. In some places they actually know your name in advance. In some hotels, the staff has access to the guest profile online and prepares in advance to wow the customer the moment they walk into the hotel lobby. That sense of arrival is something missing in most places.
I was lucky to grow up in a warm loving family that creates a sense of welcoming arrival when we had friends or family visit. I remember my mother always graciously welcoming our guests with coffee or tea and scrumptious pastries. She would always look forward with excitement and preparation to serve our guests as though she was the guest herself. She taught me this lesson for many years and still does every time we welcome guests over to their house. The lesson of that stuck with me as a valuable lesson to practice everyday in my career. Here is what I’ve learned from mom and other mentors about the warm welcome:
- Make the first contact. It shows the customer you are excited to begin a meaningful relationship.
- Smile and be upbeat. Your attitude is reflected in your body language.
- Create “Small Talk”. Remember it’s about them and their life. Make them feel at ease and try to learn more about their day. Sometimes we assume we know but it’s amazing when you listen closely, you begin to learn more and make a connection.
- Make them feel like a Million Bucks! Everyone is important.