In a pandemic-recovering world, we’ve spent a lot of time hiding behind masks and glass, staying away from each other, avoiding all interaction with other humans, and mostly only communicating with methods that don’t require speaking or touching anything that doesn’t belong to us, like texting and email. We’re understandably pandemic-weary, but we’ve also hit another barrier – we’ve forgotten how to have conversations and treat other human beings.
Those of us who are older obviously grew up without pandemic concerns, so maybe it isn’t as stark, but those of us who are younger may not have much work experience to base interactions on. As restaurants hire new, younger workers, it can be startling to see customer-employee interactions – for both managers and employees.
Never fear; all is not lost! People skills can be learned, and are extremely rewarding. If you give your employees these tips, they’ll be thankful in the long run!
It is surprisingly easy to hear a smile in someone’s voice, and smiling not only puts people at ease; many people will smile back, and that puts the whole conversation on a positive vibe before anyone even has to say something substantial.
- Look at the person while speaking to them.
This obviously doesn’t apply to phone conversations, but the ramifications are the same. If you’re on the phone, watching your coworkers frantically making hamburgers for the long line of people at the counter, the person on the phone will be able to tell you aren’t paying attention to them. In the same light, look at the customer in front of you if you’re in person.
- Give a salutation.
Be it “hello,” “good afternoon,” or even just “welcome” – offering a greeting before starting into a prepared spiel makes people feel like they’re dealing with a human who cares about them rather than a robot. This is key in interactions.
- Focus on what you’re saying.
Distractions are everywhere. This phone call – or in-person customer – isn’t a complication or disturbance; it’s an opportunity for more business that can help your customer satisfy a craving or hunger. Be sure that whatever’s coming out of your mouth indicates that to them.
- Focus on what they’re saying, too.
Your caller might be stuck in traffic, at work, at home with screaming children, on the train with other passengers, or walking across a busy street. They took time out of whatever they were doing to make the call, so you should be sure you’re listening to them.
- Deliver required lines with enthusiasm rather than boredom.
“Would you like to try our seasonal lettuce wrap? It’s a great way to save calories and enjoy a filling meal” can get really old the 153rd time you say it, and your customers know. They can hear how sick of saying it you are. Your tone subsequently conveys a tone that this menu item is boring and no one should buy it.
- Listen fully before preparing a response.
People can tell when you’ve stopped listening and are just waiting for them to stop speaking so you can say whatever it is you want to get out. Make them feel more acknowledged by listening to them all the way through before answering.
- Treat their concerns as valid no matter what you think of them.
Sometimes something that seems ridiculous to you is very important to someone else, and vice versa. You wouldn’t want anyone scoffing at you, so don’t scoff at them.
Bottom line: be courteous and helpful. That’s all anyone really wants when they’re calling to get some of their favorite food. And people do remember positive experiences; it’s likely to result in return visits and a good word-of-mouth review, which is invaluable.