Tennis Industry magazine


Customer Service: Relationship Advice

Communication is key when dealing with your staff, customers, members and players.

When it comes to building relationships and working with others, there is no single formula for success. Facility managers and tennis directors know that to be successful, they need to accommodate many different personalities among employees, members, customers and players. They also need to train their staff to do the same, which will optimize performance and improve both member and staff retention.

The real key is understanding who all of these different personalities are, what makes them tick, and how they want to be treated. To do that, you need open, reciprocal communication.

Build the Foundation

Managers must be “on” and engaged at all times. Communication can make the difference between success and failure in how your staff works with members, and whether or not members continue coming to your facility.

Building a relationship begins with the first conversation — and, keep in mind, you have only 20 seconds to make a good first impression. This conversation can occur face-to-face, over the phone or via social media and other communication apps.

Research indicates that effective communication, both verbal and nonverbal, is a learned behavior. To enhance your communication skills:

Nonverbal Communication

You and your staff need to be aware of nonverbal communication. If body language and gestures are positive and inviting, the perception will be positive as well. If the nonverbal cues are negative and unappealing, the perception will rightly be undesirable.

Among staff, positivity and negativity will influence motivation, confidence and productivity. With customers, nonverbal cues will influence their experience, attitudes and retention rate.

Facial movements communicate feelings, likes, dislikes, agitation, happiness and disgust. Other forms of nonverbal communication include physical appearance, posture, gestures and body position. We’re programmed to notice these small, physical changes in others. These powerful nonverbal cues often have more impact than the spoken word.

What can affect your nonverbal communication? Stress. You need to be aware of the times you may be experiencing stress or pressure — and be sure to take a breath to calm yourself before having or continuing a conversation.

Distractions also affect nonverbal communication. It is impossible to communicate effectively while multitasking. Stay focused on the moment-to-moment experience.

Inconsistencies between what you say and what your body says may be interpreted as dishonesty or insincerity. Postures such as crossing your arms, tapping your foot or avoiding eye contact can be interpreted as disagreeing with or not being interested in what someone else is saying.

Verbal Communication

Communication is more than just an exchange of information. It involves understanding the motivation and intention behind the message, including how the message is conveyed and how it is received and understood. It’s important to verify that the other party gets the right message.

A basic approach to communication ensures that you work with each individual in a genuine, collaborative way. Changing the way you communicate can make a huge difference:

Create A Win-Win

Building relationships with different personalities — whether staff, members or customers — isn’t as hard as it sounds. It all begins with a manager’s ability to communicate effectively with staff and to motivate based on how they learn. This can help optimize performance and boost morale.

In turn, staff retention leads to member retention, and that means money continues to come into the facility. Members who have a good experience are likely to refer friends and family to your facility. Having a more effective communication approach and understanding how people learn is a win-win for everyone.



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