Training Your Team for Positive Customer Relations

After traveling around the country and checking into RV parks and hotels and after having managed RV parks I have noticed that recognizing that the front desk is the core to our marketing efforts is not at the head of our marketing plan.

It is so easy to hire people who have some experience in taking reservations and assume that with a minimum amount of our time they will be up and running on the job. This is particularly true if you hire workampers. After all, they have experience working in RV parks, taking reservations and checking people in. They understand all of the terms that are unique to our industry (i.e. guest guides, Good Sam discounts, etc.)

That takes care of the physical part of the job. But what about the mental part? Does your reservation clerk answer with a memorized spiel that falls out of their mouth at an impossible speed? I once had an employee that could go through a 15 word phone introduction in less than 5 seconds. (I know you don’t believe me, but I timed him.)

I have had employees that would spend 15 minutes chatting with a guest about area attractions and how to get there while other guests lined up to check in.

I have had employees who would automatically fill in information without asking the guest. (This was particularly true when it came to the infamous “How did you find us” question.) The employee had the best of intentions, getting the guest to their site, but it sure played havoc with the data that I used to decide where to put my marketing efforts.

I could go on and on but you could probably match me example for example so let’s move on to how I worked to solve this problem.

Here are the highlights of the training program that I put together. Each new employee was given a week of “Knock Their Socks Off” training. This training was over and above the basics of park policies and procedures.

  • Making the Connection

First impressions are the most important part of an initial conversation giving the guest a mental image of the park or hotel. When a guest calls initially to ask about the park or hotel, or make a reservation most of us have a boilerplate introduction that we have our reservation clerks use. It usually goes something like this: “Good afternoon, Your Favorite RV Park/Hotel. This is Pamela. How may I help you?”

 

This is short, sweet and to the point. The problem is that it becomes so routine that employees don’t think about what they are saying.

 

As a part of the training period I had the training clerk call the new employee and listen to their delivery. I created a short checklist to be used that had things like: 1.) Did you hear a smile in the clerk’s voice? 2.) Did you understand what was being said? Particularly the clerk’s name? 3.) Did you feel like you were imposing on the clerk by calling or did you feel valued?

 

  • Pacing the Conversation

This is a difficult concept for some people to grasp but controlling the pace of the conversation is vital to a smooth running operation. It is also vital to your bottom line.

 

Reservation clerks have to be trained on how to get all the necessary information they need to create a reservation, check a person in or answer a guests question in a timely manner. This is where a good reservation clerk excels.

 

Once again using a one on one session, the training clerk works with the new employee giving them examples of situations they may run into. An easy example to replicate is the phone reservation where the guest is asking questions about the area, things to do and see, what the weather is like all while the clerk is trying to get the reservation into the system.

 

  • Perfecting the Visit

Now that the reservation clerk has made the connection and knows how to pace the conversation, giving the guest a perfect visit is much easier. The guests stay needs to be consistent from the time they call to make the reservation through to the point when they check out.

 

You have given the guest a great image of the park, so live up to it. Follow these few procedures to make everything memorable:

  • Make sure your reservation packets (reservation receipt, guest guide, area attraction literature, etc.) enhance your image. Don’t flood the guest with a lot of paper that they will just throw away later.
  • Make sure that their site/room is clean and the picnic table is in place and in good condition.
  • Remind everyone working outside to look up, smile and wave to the guests. It’s amazing how far a smile can get you.
  • When it is time for the guest to check out, have the outside person tell the guest that the park is sorry to see them go and ask if there is anything the park could do to help them. Sometimes this is as simple as telling them where the nearest fuel stop is and how to get there.
  • Handling the Unexpected

One last point to be made is in how to handle those unexpected issues that come up from time to time. Often these are really small issues that, if taken care of right away, can give you a lot of gold stars.

 

The toughest part about this step is in the letting go. Give your reservation clerks the latitude to take care of the guest’s problem. You do need to establish some limits to what the clerk can do but you will be amazed at how much can be accomplished with just a little leeway. If the guest isn’t happy with their site, allow the clerk to relocate them. If the guest needs a fuse for the RV but doesn’t have a wallet with them, let them take the fuse back to the unit and make a note of the price. (You may have some guests who will drive off without paying but I believe that 95% of the guests will make sure that you get paid. I have even had guests call back and give me a credit card number for a $2 purchase.)

 

The point here is to give your clerks the authority to make the guests stay memorable. Not only will you look good to your guest, your clerk is going to feel valued and important. After all, both of these people are key to your business.

What works for you? Do you Knock Their Socks Off?

 

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Pamela and her company, FocusedWords, are dedicated to helping you promote and market your RV business to RVer’s everywhere. Have a question? Email her at pwright@FocusedWords.com,, follow her on Twitter: @RVStops and @FocusedWords and join her group on LinkedIn, “Social Media in the RV Industry.” Check out her blog at www.FocusedWords.com/blog.

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