Follow defined organisational standards when delivering services
Provide service to customers
Respond to customer complaints
Provide internal feedback on customer service practices
Customers are without exception the most important part of any business regardless of whether it is a small tourism operator, a bar, a large professional or government organisation.
A great location, excellent products or services, best prices and a modern shop or office are of little use if no one wants to do business with you. You would soon be closing your doors.
A good customer service policy therefore is important to any organisations success. It cannot be taken for granted; if you do not provide a good service to your customers or clients – then there are many other competitors who will. Make it your business to increase your organisation’s customer base by offering them friendly, courteous and welcoming service.
This is especially true of the tourism and hospitality industries as the products and services offered here are “intangible”. Products can be tangible or intangible;
a tangible product is one that you can touch and take home with you and have lasting use of. For example a CD, or clothes, a car or furniture are all tangible products.
an intangible product is one that you cannot actually take home with you. It is, in general, a service that you are paying for; for example in the tourism industry you may pay for an airfare to Europe but you are only really paying for the right to sit in an aircraft seat for a given period of time – you are not actually buying that seat. Equally when booking a hotel for the night you are paying for the right to use the hotel room for a specified amount of time only; you are not actually buying the bed. In each case you do not take the product home with you and continue to use it over and over.
So, given that a customer can spend substantial amounts of money paying for a holiday or other tourism related products that have no real lasting value the service they receive should be exemplary.
The way in which we interact with other people during the course of a working day is therefore very important. Good communication skills, an understanding of cultural diversity, the ability to work effectively in a team environment, and being able to meet customer’s needs and expectations, among other things, all play an integral part in;
the professionalism of the organisation and its staff
staff enjoyment of their work
the success of the organisation
the organisations public image and reputation.
Communicate with internal and external customers
Communicating effectively is, without a doubt, one of the most important skills that you will learn. The key to dealing successfully with other people, whether they are colleagues or customers, is to gain an in depth understanding of their needs and expectations. Often a customer will have fairly exact ideas of what they are after. Sometimes, however, they only have vague notions of having a relaxing holiday somewhere and it will be up to you to draw information from them to help them make decisions. This requires excellent communication skills.
Who is the customer?
Before we look at communication skills it is useful to know who your potential customers are as communications methods may vary depending on your audience.
A customer is someone who has a specific requirement for a product or service and seeks out a business that is likely to have that product or service in order to satisfy that requirement. Customers can be;
new or prospective contacts – people who have not done business with you before but have the potential to do so. These people may be recommended to you by existing customers, may see your ads or promotional materials or may simply walk in off the street.
repeat customers – people who do business with your organisation regularly. It is important to keep these customers happy as they have a substantial influence on your businesses continued success.
external and internal customers. External customers are people who come from outside your organisation and have no direct links with it. They simply walk in, off the street, or phone in with their needs. An external customer pays real money for your product, a fact that shows up on the bottom line.
Internal customers are, more often than not, people who work for or with the organisation. For example; employees who may receive products at a greatly reduced price, or as part of their employment benefits. Internal customers can also be other departments within the organisation – where goods or services are “transferred” between departments and no money changes hands.
Customers can also come from a range of social, cultural or ethnic backgrounds as well as have varying physical and mental abilities. We will look at customer types in more detail in section 3.
Not only the things that individual customer types need and expect of an organisation will differ; the way in which you – as a representative or your organisation – interact with them will vary. For example when dealing with energetic, lively people you can often be a little more open in your communication style, whereas with a conservative person, you will need to be more sedate and low key. So let us now take a look at what it takes to be a good communicator.… continued in learner guide ……