As things ramp back up, don’t dismiss relationship skills.

Smile Papelaria - Photos | FacebookThings are going to come back to something resembling ‘normal,’ and when they do, most of our businesses are going to get a big surprise, particularly the so-called ‘service’ industries like restaurants, hotels, and event production. People have been quarantined, separated, and unable to be together so getting out and doing things is going to be a zoo – and I say hooray to that as these industries, and, more importantly, their employees have suffered immensely during this pandemic.

As a business leader, what are you planning to ramp your employees back up and get them prepared for being hit heavily by a rush of customers? So many service employees have been off and stuck in their bubbles and their skills will be rusty. What are you planning to do to get things humming again?

As a leader, you need to consider not only hard skills, what I call results or task skills, but also soft or relationship skills. Yes, you will need to ensure your employees get a refresher on all of those tasks, processes, and procedures that are necessary to get the job done but don’t assume that those people skills will just fall into place without any kind of review.

Here are a few things to think about when it comes to relationship skills.

  • Ensure your employees have their mindset centered on serving and that they, at minimum, appear to want to help your customers. There is no place for an I-don’t-care attitude.
  • Be sure to constantly mention the importance of awareness in delivering great service. Your employees need to be vigilant in looking for ways to offer help to customers. There are literally hundreds of little things customers might want or need but don’t request so it is important to always be looking for opportunities to add value.
  • Customers need to feel welcome and wanted so team members need to be sure to greet kindly, make eye contact, and smile. This sets the stage for the entire interaction.
  • Employees need to constantly practice three key behaviors:
    • Asking questions to learn specifically what customers want and need and to clarify understanding.
    • Listening carefully without distraction so customers feel heard.
    • Explaining any information clearly so that customers know exactly what to expect.
  • Finally, be sure your employees show appreciation to customers. A simple “thank you for letting us serve you today” can be the cherry on top that makes customers feel like members of your organization rather than visitors.

As a business leader, you must ensure the results skills, the tasks and procedures, are performed correctly but do not dismiss the soft, relationship skills as something that just comes naturally. When things begin ramping back up after this COVID hiatus, you will want to review or maybe even retrain those basic people skills listed above.

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