This report aims to address a typical interpersonal communications problem. The scope of the study is limited to the hospitality industry, in particular, the hotel sector. Specifically, we shall be investigating service encounters at a hotel front office. However, this issue can happen in any area, such as food & beverage establishments, where service staff would have to interact with customers.
1.1 About the Hospitality Industry
The hospitality industry belongs to a broad category within service industry that includes lodging, event planning, theme parks, transportation, cruise, and additional fields within the tourism industry. It is a multibillion-dollar industry that depends on the availability of leisure time and disposable income of travellers. A hospitality unit such as a restaurant, hotel, or an amusement park consists of multiple parties such as facility maintenance and direct operations (servers, housekeepers, porters, kitchen workers, bartenders, management, marketing, and human resources etc.).
1.2 Background of Swissotel the Stamford
Swissotel The Stamford is strategically located in the prime district of Singapore. Revered as Singapore’s leading business hotel and one of the tallest hotels in Southeast Asia, with over 1,200 exquisitely designed guest rooms, luxurious suites, guest can be extravagantly treated to a wide array of five-star service offerings which includes world-class shopping, luxury dining and entertainment experience. In addition, a venue comprises over 70,000 square feet, equipped with latest technologies and ancillary business services, Raffles City Convention boosts the capability of attracting business opportunities of all sizes.
Swissotel The Stamford aims to infuse Swiss heritage in its organisational competence, promptness in service delivery, reliability in service standards, attention to detail and while providing a safety staying environment. The goal is to ensure that each guest enjoys an unparalleled service experience.
In the introduction: Has the scope of the report’s focus been explained? Has the interpersonal problem situation been contextualized through a discussion of the following points:
(a) an explanation of the professional context and related industry, and a brief history of thereof, YES
(b) a concise description of the company (or type), YES
(c) a brief statement about the nature and importance of a particular interpersonal communication act, skill, strategy or approach, YES
(d) a brief summary of previous work/literature on the topic, including, if appropriate, relevant theory? YES
- PROBLEM IDENTIFICATION
Being in the highly interactive hospitality industry, staff will have to face guests all the time. Thus, it is bound to be a time when staff will encounter with unpleasant situations such as dealing with angry or upset guests. Such situations can be easily seen happening in frontline operation. Undesirable emotions are often involved as communication and interaction between both parties turned bad after all the complaints and arguments. Despite receiving negative and nasty words from guests, staff are not allowed to respond back with the same attitude as it will adversely affect the image of the hotel. Therefore, the interpersonal communication problem identified is about how service staff could manage personal feelings while having to deal with angry guests in a professional manner.
In the problem statement: Has one problem/issue been clearly identified? Is a manageable problem statement presented? Is it clear why/where/when the problem occurs?
The objective of this training video is to educate front desk officers on the skills that enable them to handle guests in difficult situations. When equipped with these skills, staff will be more composed in facing the problem and dealing it with more confidence. Staff can also be more independent to answer the guests directly instead of seeking for help from managers. This video also acts as a guideline that staff can adhere to, aligning it with the hotel standard of service. This allows the hotel to standardise the way staff respond to guest. This will help to minimise aggravating the situation further due to inconsistent information provided by staff.
Therefore, the training video should be short and concise with information that is easily understood and remembered by staff.
In the objective of the study: Is the purpose of the study, or research clear? Does that statement specify why the research was undertaken? YES
- RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
Learning from real life experiences is determined to be most effective especially for knowledge which is more hands-on based. Critical reflection of past experience through practice and sharing of the outcomes enable people to improve ongoing skills by using the information and knowledge gained from the experience (Helyer, 2015). As such, the team will be conducting a face-to-face interview with experienced hotel frontline staff to learn from their reflections. The primary research is to gather information by listening to the past stories of the interviewee and understand how each individual handles such difficult encounters. On top of that, secondary research will be carried out to obtain information on general conflict resolving techniques which have been proven to be effective in the industry.
In the research methods: Is the methodology of the research clearly explained? Is there a clear explanation of why such research was needed? Have the various research instruments and the manner of using them been clearly described? YES
- SUGGESTED SOLUTIONS
The training video will address the two scenarios that are likely to happen at front office – guests complaints and agitated guest that uses verbal abuse.
5.1 Handling Guest Complaints
The “L.E.A.F.” approach is suggested to be used when handling with guest complaints. “L.E.A.F.” stands for “listen, show empathy, act and follow up”. Firstly, staff should listen attentively to the guest’s complaint before responding. Attentiveness could be shown by standing up straight and maintain an eye contact with the guest. Nod subtly as a form of acknowledgement to what the guest had said. Secondly, showing empathy towards guest when listening to the complaint. Staff should understand from the guest point of view and be more understanding. Thirdly, staff can act in a manner that helps to resolve the complaint. The staff can explain to the guest that the complaint will be brought up to the relevant department to conduct an investigation on the matter. Lastly, there must be a follow-up to the complaint. The staff must remember to hone her words to communicate with the relevant department regarding the complaint. Front office manager should also be informed of the situation. When the final investigation report is out, the guest must be informed of the result as a form of follow up.
5.2 Handling abusive customers
On the other hand, despite the above-mentioned method, the customer may refuse to accept the explanation and may turn verbally to the service staff. In such a scenario, the report suggested three basic steps to deal with such customers.
Firstly, always remain calm and cool, even when the customer continues to be abusive. Always maintain a non-aggressive eye contact with the customer to show that you are listening to their concern attentively, but do not make any verbal response at the moment. At the same time, look out whether the customer is carrying any offensive object or showing signs of attack.
Secondly, it is to control emotions when facing the aggressive guest. This can be done by using “self-talk” to remind oneself of the professional role that one is in. As mentioned by Watson (2016), things that you say to yourself (self-talk) has a great impact on how you feel and what you do. It is also important to remember that do not allow guest to affect one’s day and to resolve the problem quickly without causing more problems. It is important to keep the emotion in check and feel proud when the situation is handled well.
Lastly, remember to follow up the action. If the customer continues to be difficult and abusive, gently inform the customer that there are other customers in line and would feedback to the manager. However, if the customer continues to create a nuisance, security could be called in. If the customer accepts, carry on with your work, and attend to him later. At the very last resort, if he continues to be abusive, call the security or superior for advice.
- FOLLOW UP ACTION
è If customer continues to be difficult, inform customer, “Sir/Ms, there are other customers waiting in line. I will let the manager know about your feedback. If you continue to be difficult, I will have to call the security.
è If the customer accepts, carry on with your work, and attend to her later. If the continues to abuse, call the security or superior for advice.
In the problem solutions: Are the solutions to the problem/suggested changes clearly articulated? Are these changes justified? Do they seem viable? Are the suggested changes supported by theory or evidence?
Yes. It is clearly articulated by breaking it down to 2 different main points and both points has different approaches towards it. These points were also clearly supported by the theory/ approach and further elaborated.
As mentioned above, the suggested solution for handling complaints is an acronym that spell out as “L.E.A.F” while the solution for handling angry guests is an easy three-steps method. These solutions are short and simple which makes it easy for staff to internalise. Through the video, staff will have the opportunity to watch a reenactment of the proper way of dealing the situation. The visual aid will help to enhance the learning experience by allowing them to know how to carry out the skills.
With the video, staff will have the knowledge in answering to guests in difficult situations. Staff will thus handle the situation in a standard format, ensuring that it follow according to the hotel standard operation procedures. Not only it elevates the professionalism of service staff, it also upholds the image of the hotel.
Guests, after all, are consumers who need to be satisfied given the amount of money they have paid for the hotel stay. As mentioned, service industry is highly interactive and the main operations revolve around guest satisfactions. Hence, the training of interpersonal communication skills could be only part of the initial orientation and ongoing in-service recap. In the future, with staff being equipped with such knowledge, it is possible for hotel to use incentives to initiate “pass it forward” campaign to encourage action-based peers learning and influences (Angrosino, 2010).
In the benefits: Are the potential benefits of the solution(s) clearly presented?
Yes, it is clearly mentioned that the employees will be able to learn from other’s past mistakes (through the video) and ensure that this mistake will not be repeated again. On top of that, it also enables employees to learn the standards and ensure that their actions adhere to the hotel standard operation procedures.
In short, the proposed training video will be effective in imparting skills and knowledge to hotel service personnel in resolving interpersonal communication conflicts which involve emotions.
Angrosino, M. V. (2010). The Process of Social. Florida, United States of America: Waveland Press, Inc. Retrieved 15 March, 2017, from https://books.google.com.sg/books?id=7l9ybA-0WLgC&pg=PA84&lpg=PA84&dq=leaf+listen+emphatise+act+follow+up&source=bl&ots=mxabEhUvOz&sig=lRwlzcKm9CVtIFVuKehpiqvn0LY&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjm1-H82dvSAhXMsI8KHf10D1QQ6AEIIjAC#v=onepage&q=leaf%20listen%20emphati
Boo, H. C., Mattila, A. S., & Tan, C. Y. (2013). Effectiveness of recovery actions on deviant customer behavior—The moderating role of gender. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 35, 180–192. Retrieved from http://10.0.3.248/j.ijhm.2013.06.005
Helyer, R. (2015). Learning through reflection: the critical role of reflection in work-based learning. Journal of Work-Applied Management, 7(1), 15-27. Retrieved 16 March, 2017, from Emerald Insight: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1108/JWAM-10-2015-003
Shao, R., & Skarlicki, D. P. (2014). Service Employees’ Reactions to Mistreatment by Customers: A Comparison Between North America and East Asia. Personnel Psychology, 67(1), 23. Retrieved from https://libproxy.singaporetech.edu.sg/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=cookie,ip,uid&db=edb&AN=94280015&site=eds-live
Comments made by Eline, Shufang and Darren:
In the concluding statement: Is there a final summary, albeit brief, of the main thrust of the synopsis? Is there a ‘call to action’ or a list of ‘takeaways’?
The concluding statement could be improved. Should include a summary of the problem again and end the concluding statement stating how the training video will help company with educating their employees.
In the language use: What is your impression of the language use? Is it clear? Is it correct?
The language used is generally clear and concise.
In the flow of ideas: Are the ideas coherently presented?
Great flow of ideas, ideas were structured and well-paragraphed. This allows readers to follow through the report easily.
Is there effective use of transition words and phrases, within paragraphs and between them?
Yes, generally effective use of transition words and phrases throughout the report to link sentences together.
Some examples are:
Section 5.1: Used of firstly, secondly, thirdly
Section 1.2: In addition
Section 1: However
Section 7: In short
In the ‘voice’: Is the proposal communicated in “one consistent voice”? Does it reflect a clear sense of audience?
Proposal was communicated in one consistent voice. Report has a logical flow and reflects clear sense of audience.
Overall impact: How would you rate the overall impact of this proposal in terms of language use, content and organization? (excellent; very good; good; needs improvement; needs a lot more work)
Very good. Require minor edit and polishing. Overall, very good demonstration of concepts learnt! Keep it up!