Manners and proper etiquette have been a staple of human introductions and discourse since the dawn of civilization. Titles remain incredibly significant in day-to-day conversation. And the topic is so well-engrained in our society, there have been hundreds of etiquette books published throughout the years, with some recent examples including Amy Vanderbilt’s 1952 best seller “The Complete Book of Etiquette” and Tiffany’s “Table Manners for Teenagers.” It’s important! And while the definition of what is “proper” or “polite” or “appropriate” differs widely between cultures, age ranges, geographical areas, and – of course – what era of human history in which you find yourself, most western civilizations agree a proper address – greeting a customer by their name – is the easiest way to build a foundation of professional rapport. The problem? With respect to this topic, the golf industry is left wanting. Badly.
Proper address as a catalyst for a good customer experience
Aside from being an overall best practice, the proper address serves two important functions in point-of-sale club operations: it disarms the bully, and it reinforces a happy customer’s positive attitude.
As a club or hospitality professional, there’s no doubt you can recall at least a dozen stories of bully customers who approach the counter with a scowl. You can see it coming a mile away – this person is going to be a problem. It can be easy to fall into the trap set by this curmudgeon customer and stoop to a level beneath customer service standards set by your club. Pausing the conversation to complete a proper address and using or asking for the customer’s name is an excellent way to disarm discourtesy and begin the conversation on new, more polite terms.
On the flip side, a proper address tends to strengthen a positive and happy customer’s perception of your brand, especially from the onset of his or her experience at the club. The proper address also turns the point-of-sale operator into an authority or a person of influence throughout the customer journey and creates a positive, personal connection between an employee and the customer. This not only validates the customer’s experience, but through proper training and a commitment to this procedure, can also help your staff gain confidence and optimism for when that bully customer comes back again.
Everyone who walks through the door of a golf club, hotel, hospitality venue or other customer-first business will have to give a name to book their experience. Names are taken or given via the phone or digital booking systems and will always be on file for the day and time of customer arrival. And in that respect, the excuses for failing to address a customer by name are few and far between.
The current average proper address score of clubs and hospitality properties is 4.4 out of a possible 10 points over all 59club USA data sets and has only increased to a 6.7 out of 10 over the past 11 months. This remains one of the poorest scoring areas of 59club mystery tests to date. Yet, this is one of the easiest and cheapest corrections to make at the club. No risk, but extremely high reward.