SITXCCS014 Provide a Service to Customers

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SITXCCS014 Provide a Service to Customers

In this unit you will learn how to;

  1. Communicate with internal and external customers
  2. follow defined organisational standards when delivering service
  3. Provide a service to customers
  4. Resppond to customer complaints, and;
  5. 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”

  • 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 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

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.

Communicating with Customers

From the moment we wake up in the morning to the moment we go to sleep at night we are in almost constant contact with others.

The people you talk to each day represent a very diverse group and could include colleagues, customers or friends and family. You might need to liaise with members of other tourism and hospitality industry sectors, individuals or groups such as consultants and committees or even with government organisations.

The way in which we communicate with these people will be just as varied and diverse and might include face to face communication or talking to customers on the telephone. It will also include written forms of communication such as writing formal letters or emails and other forms of electronic communication.

Developing good communication skills

In communicating face to face with customers and colleagues the most useful skills include;

  • effective questioning techniques
  • positive listening skills and
  • understanding non-verbal communication

Effective Questioning Techniques

Asking questions effectively is an important skill – a skill that makes the difference between having a conversation with a customer – or interrogating them. So to make the best recommendation to a customer you first need to ask the right kind of questions. Question types include;

  • Open – this type of question should be asked at the beginning of any conversation when you are gathering initial information. An open question generally begins with the words: what, why, which, where, when or how and can rarely be answered in just a word or two. The customer will usually give you a fairly detailed answer to the question “What kind of accomodation did you have in mind?” as opposed to “do you want to book a hotel room?” (where the customer might simply answer “yes”)
  • Clarifying – during the initial conversation, or at the end of the conversation to summarise your understanding, you can use a clarifying question. This is used to ensure that you and the customer are on the same page or to get additional information. For example;
  • In summarizing: “So what you’re saying is that you would like [repeat your understanding of the customer’s needs]. Is that correct?” The customer will then either confirm your understanding or correct you.
  • In getting additional information: “You mentioned that you would like your hotel to be close to the city central business district. Will you be visiting the city for business reasons?” The answer to this question may lead to additional, complementary sales or give you a better understanding of what the customer will be doing while in that city.

Clarifying questions are extremely useful in ensuring that your recommendations to the customer are on the mark in terms of their needs.

  • Leading – A leading question is often used by  – continued in the learner guide.

For further information go to the “hospitality” page.