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Five strategies for training your frontline team

May 10, 2017

Five strategies for training your frontline team to establish greater rapport with guests, while offering the right products and services to enhance their stay

Delivering five-star service requires your front desk agents to maximize every guest interaction, viewing it as an opportunity to offer an enhanced experience. Is the guest traveling with kids? Perhaps she would be more comfortable in a parlor room with an additional TV. That business traveler with an early meeting might be interested in purchasing an add-on breakfast package. Unfortunately, many front desk agents are so intimidated by the potential of hearing “no” that they refrain from offering such upgrades, even when it could greatly improve the guest’s stay. To best accommodate the guest, agents must overcome the fear of objection. They should understand that maximizing a guest interaction is not about getting a “yes” 100% of the time, but simply educating 100% of your guests. Agents should view each interaction as an opportunity to learn more about the guest and provide additional information tailored to their needs. Nine out of 10 times, even if they decline, guests will appreciate the effort to accommodate their needs, thus increasing overall guest satisfaction. Training your frontline team to eliminate their fear of objection and take the initiative to offer enhancements may be one of the toughest coaching responsibilities on a manager’s to-do list. The following five-step action plan will refine their approach, instill confidence and improve effectiveness. The result: Tremendous growth in incremental revenue combined with higher guest satisfaction scores.

Step One: Implement a Guest focused (Not Sales-focused) Delivery Approach

This begins by greeting and building rapport, which allows the agent to engage the guest, understand their wants and needs, and gain their trust. This approach is similar to that of an old-school telephone operator; after greeting a caller and learning their needs, the operator connected them to the appropriate person who could fulfill their needs. This is all that effective frontline salespeople do—they connect the guest’s need to a product benefit. Once your frontline understands this, so much of the pressure is removed; they shift focus from “selling” to “connecting” the guest to the appropriate offering.

Step Two: Overcome the Lifestyle Gap

If someone making $30,000 a year is representing your luxury property, they may hesitate to offer a $299 room upgrade because they personally would never pay that. Most frontline staff cannot relate to the lifestyle of your guests, so management must overcome that gap by helping the team understand what a best-in-class experience means to luxury-property guests, not necessarily to them. How do your products and services make guests feel? Which one provides comfort, convenience, prestige, entertainment, enjoyment, social proof, safety, and security? Knowing what feeling each product or service evokes, combined with learning what feeling matters most to each individual guest, will help your frontline understand how to best accommodate luxury clientele.

Step Three: Build Belief in the Value of Your Products and Services

Learning and fully believing in the value of what you offer is the single most important first step to success in any sales effort. Enthusiastic belief allows confidence and credibility to grow. This also creates a sense of safety and security for the guest. Leaders must educate their team on the benefits of all products offered while inspiring belief in their value.

Step Four: Motivate Your Team with the Right Incentives

Motivation is driven by three primary influences: compensation, recognition, and accountability. Management should tap into the frontline’s desire to make more money, receive acknowledgment for their performance and avoid negative consequences; tap into these powerful influences to ignite a passion for driving big results. The most essential element to of any incentive plan is that it promotes excellent performance and customer service.

Step Five: Train Agents to Overcome Objections

Even after implementing steps one through four, agents will still experience the word “no.” With proper training and coaching, however, agents should learn not to take objections personally or let it prevent them from continuing to offer their best products and services. Here is Michael Jordan’s take on success: “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Deliver the best guest experience by offering your best products and services. Leverage these five strategies to educate, motivate and inspire your frontline team—you will see an incredible return on your investment.