Handling Guest Payment
How to process payments efficiently while maintaining guest security and privacy.
Handling payment is one of the most important parts of guest interactions. Payment should be processed quickly, efficiently and securely. Money is something that must be treated seriously and with professionalism. When problems arise during payment, it can give guests the impression that you are incompetent, or that the business doesn’t train its employees properly. Guests work hard for their money, and they want to be sure that their information is in safe hands. Credit card fraud is a real threat to everybody worldwide; in 2018, over $24 billion was lost worldwide!
It is up to you to protect guest information and allow their payments to be made securely, while also ensuring the guest experience is maintained. Lets get started!
Being able to complete transactions securely protects not only the guest, but you as an employee and the business as well. Sensitive information must be protected every step of the way, from taking reservations over the phone to settling the bill when the guest is checking out. The best way to maintain a secure platform for payment to be made is simple; REMEMBER AND FOLLOW YOUR TRAINING. Businesses have policies and procedures put in place to make sure that financial transactions are kept private and secure. During your training, pay attention and ask questions if you don’t understand something or you need your trainer to clarify something for you. Your employer would rather you ask questions now than make big mistakes later. Make sure to follow up your training and refresh your knowledge frequently so that you know you’re following procedures and staying up to date.
Here’s a story about how important understanding and remembering your training is. I worked in a retail department store and one night, I was tasked with helping a new cashier during their first shift on the till alone. I stayed and watched for awhile to make sure he knew what he was doing. He seemed competent, so I went to complete my other tasks and told him to call me if he needed me. Through the course of the night, he called me to help him a few times, but otherwise he said he had it under control. At the end of the night, our supervisor was counting his till and found that he was missing over $100 and that he had given away lottery tickets for free! It became clear that he did not understand his training. While everybody makes mistakes, he never did get the hang of it. He did not work with us for much longer after that. The moral of the story is this; if you’re not sure or you don’t understand, ASK!
There are a few simple practices you can follow to increase security, such as:
- Making sure guest information is accurate
- Making sure you don’t confuse one guest’s information for another
- Reporting any suspicious activity to your supervisors
- Not leaving guest information anywhere that is visible to others
- Trusting your gut; if something seems wrong, contact a supervisor
- Don’t multitask! Don’t try to complete other tasks while the guest is making their payment. This is how mistakes happen and things get confusing!
While security is the most important part of completing guest payment, you don’t want to appear anxious or worried, or the guest may think there is something wrong. Instead, you want to appear confident and in control, but also maintain a friendly and welcoming presence. Remember to actively listen, display appropriate body language and use friendly and professional language. Money can be an uncomfortable subject for some people, so it’s up to you to make them feel comfortable. “Are you paying with a credit card? Give it here!” is not the way to make a customer feel comfortable. “How are you paying today sir? Credit card? Terrific! I can take your card when you’re ready.” is much more welcoming. Don’t forget that your trying to give each guest a positive guest experience.
Unfortunately, not every guest experience is going to go smoothly. Occasionally, there’s going to be problems. A guest’s card may get declined, they may try to pay with an unacceptable payment method or there is going to be a dispute about their bill. These situations are not only uncomfortable for you, but their uncomfortable for the guest as well. When these things happen, there are two important things to remember; follow the company’s policies and procedures and be empathetic. You don’t want to embarrass or shame the guest if there’s a problem with payment, but you also need to make sure that the goods and services provided are paid for. When these situations happen and you’ve done everything you can, make sure you contact a supervisor. They are there to help and to make sure the job gets done right!
Money and payment are tricky subjects to navigate, but they must be handled securely and competently. In order to do things correctly, remember your training, ask questions, use common sense and remember to continue to provide a positive guest experience. If you can do all of these things, your guests will be happy, your tills will be balanced and you’ll be able to leave work knowing that you did your part to keep everybody financially secure.