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Being a people person 24/7 is difficult, which is probably why we've all experienced bad customer service. From the retail employee who refuses to even make eye contact, to the representative on the phone who passes you off rather than attempting to resolve your problem, you know what it feels like when you encounter someone who makes helping us feel like a chore.

So when customer service is good, people really take notice. And when service is exceptional, people often become return customers for life.

And this is a good lesson for all of us. After all, even if you don't work in the customer service industry, most jobs involve some form of client interaction. Knowing how to provide great service will make you an asset to any company and give you an edge when applying for jobs.

But how do you provide exceptional customer service? To get advice, we went straight to the pros in the hospitality industry. We spoke to Norris Hamilton, Vice President and Assistant General Manager at Caesars Entertainment Corporation and Andrea Evans, VIP Development Manager at Horseshoe Casino in Bossier, LA, to find out how they use their passion for working with people to provide great service and create happy customers.


1. Be Authentic

While it may sound intuitive, being yourself is not always easy when interacting with clients. But developing and maintaining long lasting relationships is easier when they are built on authenticity. Customers are looking for someone they can relate to, and putting on a show every day isn't sustainable.

Norris advises against trying to be the person you think an employer or customer is looking for and to instead “be true to your authentic self." If you are passionate about working with people, that will come through.

People can tell when someone is being phony, and it's a turn off. So while a professional demeanor is a must, forcing a sugary sweet persona is not. As long as you keep it suitable for work, your witty or quirky personality can be an asset.

Bottom line, be yourself. A happy, engaging person is much more likely to be a customer favorite than someone inauthentic or devoid of personality.


2. Get Personal

Of course, many customer service experiences revolve around business, but it's the personal connections that are made which have people coming back for more. Getting to know your customers on a personal level allows you to better anticipate their needs and create stronger bonds.

For Andrea, relationship building is the key to getting return customers. She encourages her employees to call guests by their names, ask them questions, and remember and refer to facts about them. Her team even has a system in place to record notes about their customers so they can refer to them later in order to build a stronger rapport.

Think about some of the best customer service interactions you've had—a service provider who follows up to make sure things are working, a waiter who remembers you were prepping for a job interview the last time you came in— and apply what made those interactions memorable to how you treat customers.


3. Be Cognizant of Bad Days

No one is at their absolute best one hundred percent of the time, and that's okay. However, in the service industry, being cognizant about when you're not at your best is important, Norris says.

The way you present yourself to a customer is often returned to you. So if you're not feeling warm and fuzzy, chances are your customer isn't going to feel warm and fuzzy toward you.

If you are having a particularly rough day, Norris advises taking a break. Find an employee to cover for you while you take a moment to regroup. If you really feel like you can't provide your best service to guests, Norris suggests speaking to your supervisor about helping behind the scenes for the day. It's better to be attune to your attitude and to speak up if you are having a bad day than to risk a poor interaction or altercation with a customer.


4. Find a Way Not to Say No

Last minute request for the penthouse suite and transportation to dinner via hot air balloon....after years in the hospitality industry, Norris is no stranger to these kinds of outlandish requests.

The key to handling these situations is to find a way not to say no. Try to deliver on the request, but if you can't, Norris says to be honest and always provide alternatives. Really listen to the guest and try to understand their needs so you can think of meaningful options.

Even better, by anticipating guests' needs, you can often avoid a situation where you will have to say no. A good rule of thumb is to treat guests as if they are someone you're entertaining in your own home, Norris says.

No matter what industry you're in, these tips will keep clients happy and create return business. And honing your people skills will help you build stronger relationships which will move you forward in any career.