Large hotels has to handle much higher number of calls, act as an automated operator with a uniform level of service to each customer and also play the role of managing hotel assets and property through integration with other specialized devices.
Besides controlling the call overheads, the intelligently designed and implemented telephony system can also help in managing resources. Keeping track of guest status and automated room cleaning service arrangements, enhanced customer service through history are few advanced functions to name, a telephony system can perform when integrated with Property Management Systems (PMS) or hotel management Systems.
Property Management Systems (PMS) are specially designed software for hotel applications. Being integrated with the telephone system, PMS ensures efficient check-in and check-out of guests, timely reminders and wake-up calls with personalized messages, timely services of the rooms without interfering with guest’s privacy, and many more functions leading to enhanced and prompt services as well as increased staff efficiency.
Hoteliers investing in PMS should make sure that PMS would function in complete tune with the installed telephone system. Hoteliers should select telephone systems that are tested for integration with leading PMS and CAS (Call Accounting System) or which provides flexibility of immediate integration with the PMS or CAS already installed for hotel management. Each hotel is different and is operated uniquely. Before selecting any telephone system for the hotel, Hoteliers should understand the challenges and requirements of the hotel.
The work of a telephone operator involves dealing with the responsibility for the operation of a telephone switchboard. All incoming, outgoing, and inter-office or conference calls to be handled carefully. The work is performed in accordance with a prescribed routine outlined for the position and under the direct supervision of a telephone supervisor and also performs related work as required.
Typical Work Activities:
- Operates a switchboard to relay incoming, outgoing, and inter-office telephone calls;
- Greets all callers and directs them to the proper party or department;
- Gives routine information and direction to callers and/or the public regarding the department;
- Provides hotel-related information to the caller;
- Handle guest queries and complaints;
- May record calls and checks telephone bills;
- May perform routine typing tasks such as memoranda, purchase orders, and short correspondence;
- May stamp, sort, and post outgoing and incoming mail;
- May handle extra-curricular accounting activities.
Telephone Etiquettes & Manners
Working in a hotel certainly leads to answer telephone calls. The art of using the telephone is not one, which only the telephone operator must acquire, for it is important that all persons within a hotel should know how to use the instrument.
The art is based on two everyday qualities, common sense, and courtesy. The telephone should be treated, not as an inanimate object, but as a real live being. After all, there is a real live person at the other end of the line, who must be communicated with.
Everybody in the hotel organization who answers the phone should be trained to use proper telephone etiquette and treat each caller with courtesy and professionalism.
Proper telephone etiquette is very important in that personnel are representing their department and the hotel. Time needs to be spent on developing employees’ “Telephone & Customer Service skills”.
Remembering to use proper telephone etiquette, whether answering the phone or making phone calls, leaves callers with a favourable impression of you, your department, and the hotel.
Below mentioned are the areas for self-improvement so that each person takes away a personalized action plan.
Rules of Telephone Etiquettes:
A few basic techniques and some useful tips to remember while answering telephone calls in hotel business.
All phone calls should be answered by the third ring: When the telephone rings, it is announcing the fact that someone wishes to speak to the telephone operator, and the operator should answer it promptly. The call should be attended within three rings. Answering the call by the third ring will ensure the guest interaction gets off on the right foot. Every time the phone rings beyond the third ring the dissatisfaction and agitation level of the caller escalates. If you are attending to a guest at that time, first answer the phone, excuse yourself. Do not let the telephone ring without answering it. Although it may at times be irritating the telephone should always come before any desk work, but should not take precedence over the guest at the counter with whom you were dealing before the telephone rang.
Answer the call promptly:
Always try to answer the call immediately and with an enthusiastic, standardized greeting to establish a positive first impression with the guest. An energetic, pleasant greeting with a smiling voice will set the tone for the rest of the guest interaction. Necessity, as much as a courtesy, demands that the person answering the telephone should identify himself or herself. It is meaningless to say “Hello”.
The telephone operator should always announce the name of the hotel/department and greet the guest according to the day. The adding of the words “May I help/assist you” will give the impression of willingness to serve, which is all-important in a hotel. Now, it is up to management to determine the most appropriate script for the standardized telephone greeting and ensure it is consistently delivered to each caller.
Answer the telephone by saying, “RECEPTION (concierge or reservation) GOOD MORNING (good afternoon or good evening), MAY I ASSIST YOU?
Polite and Speak with a “smile”:
The first rule of telephone etiquette is to be polite and speak with a “smile” in your voice. Train staff to actually smile when speaking to a guest, even though the person on the other end of the line cannot see them. Believe it or not, you can actually hear a smile over the phone. Only a small percentage of overall guest communication is accomplished through actual spoken words. A majority of guest communication is delivered via voice quality -tone, pace, modulation, and the invisible “smile”. An employee’s attitude, both positive and negative, will come through loud and clear to the guest.
Speak slowly and enunciate clearly: Speak clearly and pronounce the words carefully. The caller may find it difficult to understand you on the telephone than if you speak to him at the counter.
Be polite, friendly, and helpful:
Every hotel want potential guest to receive. On the telephone, operator’s voice can indicate the welcome we want every potential guest to receive. She/he must never sound short, sharp, irritated and impatient over the phone and never interrupt the caller while he is talking.
Be courteous in explaining the hotel rules. Using phrases like “You have to”, “I suggest” or “would you mind” is not preferable. Never argue with the guest, remember the guest is always right. If you cannot deal with a certain problem, inform the seniors in the department so that they can deal with it.
Speak directly into the mouthpiece:
It is always good to speak directly into the mouthpiece, if this is not feasible because of using other equipment while on the telephone (i.e., computer), prefer using a headset, which will free your hands. If you are speaking to the other person, the hand should be placed over the telephone mouthpiece. This saves the caller the embarrassment of overhearing a conversation not intended for his or her ears.
Do not eat or chew gum while talking on the telephone.
Use hold button:
If someone walks into your office while you are talking on the telephone, ask the caller if you may put him/her on hold briefly. Press the HOLD button. Do not lay the receiver on the desk, without placing the caller on hold (the caller can hear the discussion and may not be pleasant to his ears).
Standard phrases and courteous words:
Using standard phrases and courteous words is essential in displaying a professional atmosphere.
Avoid common words and slang such as yep, yeah, nope, uh-huh, sure, no problem, um, ya know, etc. Use polite words such as please, thank you, pardon me, would you prefer, may I offer, absolutely, certainly, etc.
Listen to the caller actively and without interrupting, absorb the information they are giving you, and ask the right questions to ensure the caller is serviced quickly and thoroughly.
Short and Crisp:
Be brief and to the point, but not abrupt. Remember that telephone time costs money and that the switchboard operator may be holding another call for you.
Using guest’s name:
Using a person’s name is the most valuable and free of cost tool to utilize to make the guest feel important, whether the interaction is conducted via telephone or in person. This is just the first of two or three times the guest’s name should be used. At a minimum, the name should also be used in the closing interaction such as, “Thank you for calling, Mr. Kapoor. Have a nice day.” If you absolutely cannot obtain the guest’s name, it is acceptable to use “Sir” or “Ma’am.”
Do not place guest on hold for a long time:
Avoid placing callers on hold unless you absolutely must do so. When placing a guest on hold, be courteous and ask if it is OK to do so prior to actually pressing the hold button. A simple way to ask would be, “May I place you on hold?” or “Allow me to put you on hold”. Wait for an answer, then thank the caller and inform them you will be back with them shortly. Do not keep the caller waiting for a long time before attending to him. Return to the caller and complete the call as soon as possible. A caller on the telephone should never be placed on hold for longer than 30 seconds. If you cannot complete your side task within the 30-second window, return to the original caller and tell them “I am sorry to keep you waiting” or you appreciate their patience and you will be right with them.
Do not avoid calls:
Do not remove the receiver from the cradle in order to stop the bell ringing or lay it down on the table without acknowledging the caller. It is an extremely rude gesture to remove the receiver and then replace it without speaking, thus cutting off the caller.
Taking message carefully:
In a well-run hotel telephone operators must ensure that they should always have a pen and notepad to write down messages as they are received. Make sure all key information from guests is accurately and properly noted. The definition of “key information” varies based upon the business function as key information will be different for front desk agents than it would be for a restaurant personal. All messages should be read back to the caller to ensure that they have been received correctly, particular attention being paid to names, addresses and numerals. Messages containing times and dates are frequently given over the telephone, and it is particularly important that these are received and passed on correctly.
Take calls confidently:
Be accurate in what you say. The guest wants to have confidence in you. Do not ‘THINK’ or ‘SUPPOSE’ if you do not know the answer; find out and call back. Before, keeping the receiver down notes down the guest’s name and his contact number for calling him back.
When ending a guest call, always stay on the line and only hang up after the guest has done so first. Thank the guest for calling with a pleasant farewell (remember to use the guest’s name) and stay on the line until you hear the call ended by the familiar “click” from the caller hanging up.
Always remember that you represent the hotel or the organization you are working for when you pick-up a telephone call at work. The caller does not see you or your hotel, so your voice alone has to help the caller become and remain a satisfied guest. Lastly, ensure the telephone is only used for business purposes. Tying up the telephone talking with friends or family means guests cannot get through which causes aggravation and potentially loss of revenue.
The first and foremost important thing is to provide a welcoming environment to caller so they are comfortable asking questions. Within the first, few seconds of the conversation guest can sense how the rest of the call will go. Therefore, make sure that they feel at ease and know that you care about their issue.
- Be a good Communicator
- Be interested in your caller and their issues they are calling about.
- Inform guests while you are investigating the issue to let them know that you are working on how to resolve their issue.
- Explain to guest what you are doing and why.
- Assess the level of expertise of caller has and adjust your communication style accordingly.
- If caller does not understand a term that you use, explain to them what you mean.
- Do not use abbreviations unless the caller is familiar with them.
- Let the caller know what the next step is and how you will find it.
- Manage the Call
- The telephone operator is the moderator of the call, so keep track of time.
- Keep in mind where you are in the call framework, from opening, resolving, and closing the problem.
- Be sure to properly greet and collect all mandatory guest information before asking why they have called for support.
- Know how long you usually need to open and close calls, to use as much time as possible for troubleshooting.
- If you must put the guests on hold, tell them exactly how long they will hold and return exactly to that estimate.
- If your troubleshooting steps do not resolve the problem, do not continue to look for solutions. Refer to your procedures and escalate the case to higher authorities (as directed).
- Be a good listener. Resist distraction and focus on the caller.
- You might know what your caller will say, but let them finish anyway.
- Remember active listening is an art and includes listening to what your customer is saying and what they are not saying.
- Look for cues such as tone of voice. It can reveal a lot about your caller and help you manage the call smoothly.
- Do not interrupt the caller. If you do have to interrupt them, apologize and explain why.
- Try to answer the phone within three rings. Answering a phone too fast can catch the caller off guard and waiting too long can make the caller angry.
- Answer with a friendly (Example – “Good Afternoon, Hotel XYZ, Operator number 254 at your service, May, I assist you!”).
- Smile – it shows, even though the phone lines; speak in a pleasant tone of voice – the caller will appreciate it.
- Ask the caller for their name, even if their name is not necessary for the call. This shows you have taken an interest in them.
- If the caller has reached the wrong number, be courteous. Sometimes a caller is transferred all over the hotel with a simple question and the caller gets frustrated. If possible, take the time to find out where they should be calling/to whom they should be speaking.
- The hand should be placed over the telephone mouthpiece. This saves the caller the embarrassment of overhearing a conversation not intended for his or her ears.
- Use the hold button when leaving a line so that the caller does not accidentally overhear conversations being held nearby.
- When you are out of the office or away from your desk for more than a few minutes, forward your phone to voicemail.
- When you call someone and they answer the phone, do not say “Who am I speaking with?” without first identifying yourself: (Example – “This is Lisa from hotel XYZ. To whom am I speaking?”)
- Always know and state the purpose of the communication.
- When you reach a wrong number, don’t argue with the person who answered the call or keep them on the Say: “I’m sorry, I must have the wrong number. Please excuse the interruption.” And then hang up.
- If you told a person you would call at a certain time, call them as you promised. If you need to delay the conversation, call to postpone it, but do not make the other person wait around for your call.
- Handling Rude or Impatient Callers
- Stay calm. Try to remain diplomatic and polite. Getting angry will only make them angrier.
- Always show a willingness to resolve the problem or conflict.
- Try to think like the Remember, their problems and concerns are important.
- If you are in a non-supervisory position: Offer to have your supervisor talk to the caller or call him/her back if the caller persists.
- If you are supervisor: Be willing to handle irate Speak slowly and calmly. Be firm with your answers, but understanding. Sometimes the irate caller just wants someone in a supervisory capacity to listen to their problem even if you are unable to help them.
- Placing Calls on Hold
- When putting a caller on hold, always ask permission. Use standard phrases like: “Allow me to put you on hold” or “Can you hold briefly while I see if Mr. Jones is available?” When taking a caller off hold, always thank him/her for holding. “ Thank you for holding the line”
- Sometimes you may have other lines ringing too. Remember to write down the names of callers holding so you avoid asking who the caller is holding for more than once.
If the caller needs to speak to another person or department, transfer the caller directly to the desired person’s extension rather than the operator. This will save the caller having to explain his/her requests another time, and it will cut the number of times the caller needs to be transferred.
- When transferring a caller, tell them who you are transferring them to, and announce the caller to the person you are transferring them to.
- If the called party is busy or not answering the call, return to the caller ( Example –“He/she is out of the office, may I take a message or would you like his/her voicemail?”)
- Taking Messages
- Be prepared with a pen and message slip when you answer the phone.
- When taking messages be sure to ask for:
- Caller’s name (asking the caller for the correct spelling.)
- Caller’s phone number and/or extension (including area code)
- Repeat the message to the caller.
- Record the time and date the call came in.
- Be sure to fill in the date, time, and initials.
- Place the message slip in the called guest’s mail & message rack slot or in a conspicuous place in his/her room, such as on the bedside table or writing table, etc.
- Don’t forget that you can transfer them to voicemail instead of taking a paper message, but don’t forget to ask, “Would you like me to transfer you to his/her voicemail?” Do not assume that the caller would rather go to Always ask first.
While ending a call following points to be considered:
- End on an “up” note.
- Tell the person how much you have enjoyed speaking with him/her.
- Before hanging up, be sure that you have answered all the caller’s questions.
- Always end with a pleasantry such as: “Have a nice day” or “It was nice speaking to you”.
- When a call is terminated, the receiver must be replaced properly on the cradle and a period of at least ten seconds should elapse before another call is made. This enables the operator or the automatic mechanism to disconnect the previous call.
Do's and Don'ts
- Answer the calls promptly within three rings.
- Smile as you make the call though you are on the telephone.
- Sit or stand up straight.
- Use a low voice pitch.
- Announce the name of the hotel, your identity, and appropriate greetings.
- Avoid extremes in volume.
- Match your speaking rate to the callers.
- Assume your “telephone” voice, controlling your volume and speed.
- Project a tone that is enthusiastic, natural, attentive, and respectful.
- Always have a pen and paper in hand to make the records.
- Listen carefully, pay close attention to the details being expressed by the caller.
- Use reflective/active listening to clarify and check for understanding.
- Listen “between” the words.
- Make the callers feel that they have your undivided attention, mention the name of the caller, if possible.
- Always speak calmly and choose your words properly and naturally.
- Enunciate/articulate clearly. Speak distinctly.
- Use plain English and avoid unnecessary jargon and acronyms.
- Use action specific words and directions.
- If there is a problem, project a tone that is concerned, empathetic, and apologetic.
- If you have to ask the caller to hold, explain, Wait for the caller’s permission before putting him/her on hold.
- If you say that you call back do it as soon as possible, tell the caller the approximate time you can take.
- Repeat back in any details and follow up in writing (if necessary).
- Never give wrong information, if you don’t know the answer, transfer the caller to the right person.
- In transferring calls: Transfer only when necessary; get the information yourself.
- If you must transfer, avoid the use of the word “transfer.” Say instead: “I am going to connect you with”.
- Rid your mouth of food, chewing gum, cough drops, or candy before talking on the phone – the receiver amplifies your noshing.
- If you have to sneeze or cough, turn your head and cover your mouth – and the receiver.
- Speak directly into the receiver – don’t bury it in your shoulder or neck.
- If you dial the wrong number, explain yourself and verify the phone number so you don’t repeat the call. Don’t hang up; that’s just rude.
- Cut down on the background noise when taking or making a Even working on computer bings and bleeps can be distracting over the phone.
- Close the conversation politely. Always say “Thank you for calling”.
- Put the phone down gently to spare your caller’s ear.
- Let the telephone ring more than three times.
- Answer the phone with “hello” or “yes”.
- Leave an open line.
- Ask the caller to hold on while you scramble for pen and paper.
- Place the caller on hold by saying “hold on” and leave the caller wondering if he/she is still being attended.
- Put down the receiver heavily on the table or desk or left it to dangle.
- Check back with the caller frequently: every 30-45 seconds.
- Forget to call back.
- Keep talking to another person while answering the phone.
- Type or shuffle papers while you are on the phone – it suggests that you are not listening to the caller.
- Eating, drinking or chewing something while answering the phone.
- Say you cannot help and not offer the caller to someone who can.
- Hang up without thanking the caller for calling.