Listen up!

Listening is a key part of customer service, without this skill you could miss vital information. There are many different aspects that make up effective listening,  Stevens (2010) states these as “Reflecting…Summarising…Paraphrasing…and Linear Probing…” and that by practising these skills can lead to some excellent customer service.  

Reflecting is understanding their emotion and why they are feeling that way.

Summarising is repeating back, in short, the main points of their issue.

Paraphrasing is the skill of repeating back key parts of a conversation, while it is still on going.

Linear Probing is the use of open questions, rather than closed ones, to obtain further information from the customer.

Stevens (2010) also recommends using the LISTEN acronym, as stated below:

– Look interested. This can be achieved through maintaining a good level of eye contact, keeping body language open, keeping relaxed and facing the speaker.

– Inquire with questions. This will enable you to use the various techniques of questioning to clarify the speakers meaning and to find out all relevant facts.

– Stay on target. Always remember what you are trying to achieve, listen for the complete message, don’t prejudge what they are trying to convey and don’t interrupt unless it is to bring them back to point.

T – Test your understanding. Check that you understand their request. Use your own words, and paraphrasing to clarify anything you are unsure of.

E – Evaluate the message. Identify the purpose of the customer, analyse what is being said and how they are portraying their feelings through body language and tone of voice.

N – Neutralise your feelings. Do not react adversely to what is being said, avoid becoming emotional or heated, keep your mind open and show a genuine interest.

 

It is well known across customer service industries that listening is made up of three aspects, these aspects are given a percentage of how they contribute to communication overall. The aspects of communication are words, tone and body language.

Words, so what is being said, contribute to 7% of communication.

Tone, how it is being said, contribute to 38% of communication.

Body language, how you are standing and facial expressions, contributes to 55% of communication.

These aspects and figures were noted by Albert Mehrabain, in 1981, in his research topic called “Silent Messages”.

 

Reference list:

Kaaj.com, (2016). “Silent Messages” — Description and Ordering Information. [online] Available at: http://www.kaaj.com/psych/smorder.html [Accessed 18 Jan. 2016].

Stevens, D. (2010). Brilliant customer service. Harlow, England: Prentice Hall.

 

 

 

Putting theory into practice.

The awards evening was our first time putting the theory we have learned, into practice. At times it was quite difficult, and produced a few problems, but in the end produced a great event.

Allen (2009) talks about how food can become a crucial point in the evening. If it is served too late, when drink is available, people may become intoxicated. We voiced these concerns to Fiona, but she remained certain that food should be served at the end, to prevent a lull in the atmosphere. We, as a group, believe that we should have put this theory into practice as we saw a lot of people start to leave straight after the awards, meaning they did not eat the food provided.

Adding value to the event was slightly more difficult, as guests were not paying to be there. We overcame this by having canapés and arrival drinks, on the red carpet entry, and providing some small bowls of nibbles to keep any hunger at bay. This added some value to the event, as it is something that wouldn’t always be provided at this kind of event.

The dressing of the room was fairly easy to do, with the event being held so close to Christmas, The Whitehouse already had some decorations in use, and the centrepieces for the tables were also Christmassy. We also used the college backdrop for photographs, which then enables the college to use the pictures for marketing purposes.

 

Reference list:

Allen, J. (2009). Event planning. Mississauga, Ont.: J. Wiley & Sons Canada.

Work Experience at The Whitehouse Hotel.

Since the beginning of the course we have been taking part in weekly work experience sessions at The Whitehouse Hotel. We are expected to work alongside Kelly, who is the Events and Conferences Co-ordinator, and Sam, the Food and Beverage manager. The purpose of the work experience is to give us first hand experiences of the events environment.

Since starting my placement, I have had some very mixed experiences. I have spent time with staff upstairs, preparing for events, and some downstairs with Kelly, the events co-ordinator, learning about bookings and the system she uses. I enjoy my time with Kelly, more than I do when I am upstairs, due to feeling like I am learning something useful when I am with her. Being upstairs allows me to use previous work experience, gained though jobs, to help, but I feel like I am not learning very much. I also feel like when I am upstairs, there is not always enough for me to help with, so I end up doing tasks the staff do, such as hoovering.

On the 10th December, I was with Kelly in the office. She asked me to set up templates and booking forms for the Bavarian night they are holding in February. I did this without a problem. The next task she had for me was to input some customer data into a website called Revinate. This website automatically sends out feedback questionnaires for customers to fill out, the answers are then used to calculate a score on a monthly and yearly basis. The staff have a target score to reach each month. This score can then be compared to other local competitors, as well as other hotels within the Redefine:BDL company.

Food and Beverage.

According to (Allen, 2009) food and drink can play a pivotal part of an event, whether it is the main focus of the whole event (such as gourmet food and drink events) or can be something guests can interact with, whether it be in the form of edible centrepieces, or take home gifts.

Allen (2009) also suggests trying to incorporate the theme into the food and drink, the example she gives is for a Texas theme you could serve appetisers such as Hickory smoked Salmon and cocktails such as a Seven and Seven. The main meal, or buffet, would also carry the Texan theme along with the events entertainment.

For something completely different, Allen (2009) offers the idea of trying something different to wine tasting. This could be anything from whiskey samplers to custom cocktails. This breaks up the normal hum drum of standard events and leaves the attendees with a talking point and something to remember. Whatever the drinks choice, the venues supply of glassware should be questioned, especially if a specific type of glass is required. If they are in short supply, the organiser could be footing a bill for expensive, last minute hiring of glasses.

Allen (2009) also states that the service of food can be integral to an event keeping its momentum. If food is a buffet option, having more than one service station can help keep people moving. Along with drink and entertainment stations dotted around too, the event should be able to keep its buzz.

If there is no seating option for the event, so all guests remain standing, considerations should be taken as to which foods are served. Allen (2009) says to bear in mind that no food is served with dipping sauce or bones and all food should be bite size. Consideration should also be made as to whether guests will be given plates or just napkins. Whether guests are given plates for their nibbles, or if there is a full sit down option, the venues supply of crockery needs to be questioned. The last thing an organiser wants to be doing is hiring in extra crockery at a premium price.

The most important aspect of serving food, and to some extent beverages, is allergies, dietary requirements and intolerances. Allen (2009) states that the easiest way to gauge guests need is to include a section on allergies, intolerances and other requirements on registration forms. This gives the organisers a heads up to any special orders they may need to put in with the venue.

 

References:

Allen, J. (2009). Event planning. Mississauga, Ont.: J. Wiley & Sons Canada.