THREE ELEMENTS OF HOSPITALITY – MORE than attending to customers
Dictionary.com defines hospitality as “the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers”. In an article on her JAM Consulting corporate website , the Company’s Founder and CEO, Fanny Jane O’Connor, describes hospitality as “fuzzy warmth you give to customers as you handle their needs with heart-felt care and concern”. In that vein, hospitality is showing empathy with his/her situation (“You must be feeling stressed that your car is broken down”. “You must be really worried about your health or legal issue”. “You must be really hot because of the weather”. “You must be exhausted from the long trip”). It is saying, “Take a moment. I know how you must feel”. It is assumed that a business will be an objective solution offered to address their actual problem, but taking pause and bonding as people first shows that there is emotional support, as well.
Treat them like friends. They are GUESTS not Customers
If a friend or neighbor shows up at one’s door, we know how to act. We greet them with a smile, and we would ask them in. After all, it would be bad manners to leave them idling outside on the stoop. Once inside, we would not leave them standing in the hallway, either. We’d welcome them into our home – invite them through to the living room, kitchen, or somewhere comfortable, and we would offer them a seat.
Once settled in chairs, we’d carry on with a ‘thanks for stopping in………..’, and ‘good to see you’, etc.. We don’t wonder or immediately start asking, “Why did you come here?” or, “How can I help you?”. We’d ask them how they are or what they’ve been up to, especially if we hadn’t seen them in a while. We welcome them in because they are a friend.
It would be good manners to offer them coffee or tea or something cold to drink, as well, and when we bring it in, we might also have a couple of cookies or a light snack on the tray in case they were hungry, too. There is no thought about how much the food and beverage cost, because we share with people we like. As it is described in Spanish: mi casa es tu casa (my house is your house). It is an honest, from-the-heart intention to give, with nothing expected in return.
It would be only be after this bit of ‘social time’ – catching up with the news and some general chit-chat, that the conversation might evolve into the real purpose of their visit. Perhaps there might be something troubling them or something important on their mind that they want to ask you about. Hopefully some suggestions, answers, or even just an ear to listen can be enough to help out, and we would hope that, upon leaving, he or she would be feeling a lot better about that which was concerning them when they arrived at the door. You are happy they visited your home, and you were happy to welcome them in. They are a friend.
Look after them as a Person FIRST
When someone visits our business, they have a need. They might be requiring some professional advice, or a family member or pet might be ill. Perhaps they need a pedicure or such, or they might be hungry or thirsty. Those needs, though, are obvious. After all, they came to a law office, the salon, or a restaurant or bar. It’s clear what they need from the type of business to which they came.
But what about their needs as a person? Hospitality means anticipating what they might also appreciate to make them feel more comfortable. Ideally, even without them thinking about needing it first! An offer of a bottle of water without them even asking: “Here you are. You look hot from the drive. I’ve also turned the aircon up for you”. If there is a self-service refreshment counter, does someone point it out and invite them to help themselves or perhaps they discover it on their own, or does a staff actually get up and make a cup of coffee for them? If someone comes in with a child or perspiring from the walk, does your team show them the restroom: “If you want to freshen up”?. How about someone on their cellphone or computer? Might they appreciate you offering them an electric plug or charger for their device, “In case you need it?”. By these questions and behaviors, your staff is acknowledging:
- Each visitor’s presence and situation at that moment; and
- Each visitor is an individual, i.e. that their particular wants and needs can be unique; and
- We are happy to do more for them than just consider the main purpose of their visit.
Don’t expect anything in return
Once the ‘formalities of friendship’ are done, the purpose of the visit can then be appropriately addressed. But, the basis of any business relationship is a relationship between people, and first creating a bond of trust and the feeling of caring and empathy is what is important. The purpose of their visit might be to get medical or vet assistance, professional advice, or some other guidance, and it can be assumed that they are going to be given the best possible service you and your team can provide them, but that issue should be approached AFTER the human relationship is developed.
Summary – Hospitality creates Results
As people later talk with others about their experience at a business, rather than recalling the professional skill of the service they got, it is likely that they will more quickly recall the emotional elements of the visit instead. Yes, the quality of the work is important (to fix their objective issue), but how that quality of work is provided is as important as what is done. A business looking to stand out must offer something different than its competitors. In providing that difference – that hospitality over customer service, it will go a long way to having customers say, “That’s my kind of place. I’m going to visit there again”…………
DON’T Give them Service
- Don’t Offer the same as everybody else.
- Don’t Offer a standard, fixed, ‘same for everyone’ service routine.
- Don’t deliver behavior that is already expected with basic social customs and assume that is ‘customer service’
DO give them Hospitality
- Treat a visitor to your business as if they were a guest coming to your home.
- Treat each guest as a person first, as a client second.
- Treat each guest without expecting anything in return.
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