Every week we comb through the news to find employment trends affecting the hospitality industry so you don’t have to. This week’s topic: connecting with guests while staying safe.
Restaurants and bars around the country have begun opening after several months’ hiatus due to the coronavirus. While this is a step towards finding some of the normalcy we’ve been missing – not to mention a necessary economic increase – it’s more important than ever to maintain the health standards that have been put in place in order to decrease new COVID-19 cases.
While navigating our new normal, managers and employees are deciding how to continue providing a great guest experience while still prioritizing their safety. One way to do that is through creating personable interactions between employees and customers. But with masks and other physical barriers like plexiglass guards, forming that connection can be feel challenging – so we put together a couple tips for when you head back to work.
Use different expressions
For hospitality professionals especially, smiling is key for guests to feel welcomed and to show your personality. Because employees are currently required to wear masks, it’s made this aspect of the job difficult. Thankfully, there are other ways to express yourself, like:
- Smiling anyway! Customers will still be able to notice a happy look on your face through your eyes or ‘smile lines’.
- Speaking of, be sure to make eye contact when addressing a guest. Speaking can get muffled under the mask, so make sure customers know when you’re talking directly to them.
- Give them a wave. This can help get someone’s attention if they can’t hear you, or can be an easy way to say “hey” (without actually saying it).
Managers should consider allowing employees to add some personalization to their uniforms or provide approved ‘flair’, like name tags, pins, etc. Adding these simple elements to a uniform can add a little fun to these stressful times and help guests learn more about the employee serving them.
Ask and listen
Anyone in a customer facing role is used to asking some form of the question, “how are you today?” But when we’re busy and working, we don’t always listen to the answer. With the constant stresses of everyday life, now is the time to ask that question and then actually listen to the answer –– you never know who is having a rough time, or who’s been spending quarantine alone and is excited to interact with people again. Showing a genuine interest in what someone is saying is an easy way to connect with them that you can replicate with each guest.
As we navigate the new realities for businesses, we need to remember one of the main reasons why people go to restaurants and bars in the first place – to connect with one another. And while health and safety should be your first priority, restoring some of that comfort will help you form those personal connections we all need right now.