Fostering Service Excellence through Listening: What Hospitality Managers Need to Know
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Amid the “noise” created by increased use of computers and other technology, the ability to listen takes on increasing importance for hospitality employees. Listening is essential in the course of delivering personal, customized service. A survey of eighty-three hospitality managers found the highest agreement with the statement that effective listening is vital to business success. For hospitality organizations, that success is tightly linked to the quality of service produced by employees. At the same time, survey respondents gave their lowest agreement to the statement that most members of their organization listen well. Listening is the foundation of two organizational processes essential to service delivery, one involving the accurate exchange of information and the other facilitating the development of strong relationships. Employees who are good listeners have a willingness to listen and an awareness of their own listening ability (although that may be overestimated). While developing listening competencies is not easy, it is possible for managers to improve their service employees’ listening abilities through modeling effective listening and offering training that is then augmented in the workplace—all the while improving service delivery. In addition to the rapid pace of the hospitality industry and interference from technology, one other barrier to effective listening is the diversity of employees and guests. Not only cultural differences, but also gender and age differences influence listening styles and effectiveness.
hospitality; customer service; listening; communication
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