Have you ever been to a restaurant where they have “sneeze guards”? These nifty devices are in place to protect open food from germs and dirty hands. I for one am grateful they are in place! Subway, Chipotle, Quiznos? Have you ever watched and monitored your behavior or the behavior of people around you when ordering?
I actually never paid this any attention until a friend of mine mentioned it to me. When you step up to order you start to tell the person preparing your food how you would like it,what kind of meat, toppings ect. How many times do you actually look up at the human being preparing your meal? Many of us don’t. We look up when it is time to pay for the food. When we acknowledge the person taking our money. Somehow this person deserves our attention more than the person handling the food? Why is that?
This is the same way in hospitality. We have stopped having authentic conversations with the service agent processing the interaction. Whether we are checking in or out of a hotel, there is an invisible sneeze guard up. This is not true for everyone but for many of us it is. The agent on the other side is insignificant until there is a service challenge or issue then we take notice. We get names and give eye contact. Why is that?
Have we as hoteliers groomed society to treat service people this way? Is the guest going off of the vibes the agent is putting out? How have we gone from a polite, kind people to over indulged, entitled selfish humans?
How do we reverse the “sneeze guard” attitude and bring back positive warm dialog and exchanges?
Guest are not numbers and service professionals are definitely human with human emotions and needs. That old adage is true: “You win more flies with honey than you do with vinegar”. Starting today, make a conscious effort to make eye contact and talk to the person assisting you in the service industry! It will go a long way for you.