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What is Customer Service in Leisure and Tourism? Essay Sample

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What is Customer Service in Leisure and Tourism? Essay Sample

According to Colins leisure and tourism customer service involves all contact the customer as well as products and services the organisation offers. More simply it is putting the customer first and seeing the problem from their point of view.

This can range from direct, face to face contact, to talking over a telephone or even replying to letters .Bad customer service can lead to a customer not wishing to use the service or buy the product again.

Customer services can be a difficult job as many customers can be awkward or angry; being approached by and unpleasant or angry customer could tempt you to respond badly.

Types of Customer.

The Leisure and Tourism industries offer a very wide range of products and services. These each appeal to a different type of customer. In each part of the industry you will find many varieties of customer needs.

* Individuals.

These are dealt with on a one to one basis. If you work on a reception desk you deal with many individuals. These people require your attention. Individuals often have different needs.

* Groups.

In Leisure and Tourism you have to communicate with groups of people. Guides in many attractions show groups around, this saves time but special skills are required. Guides may first work with a group and then with individuals.

* Personal Case Study.

In quasar group games were different as they allow more people on a team and games are more frequent, also if a group is booked in only the group can play.

* People of different ages.

When working in the leisure and tourism industry, you meet a variety of people from different age groups.

Age groups are-

Children:

Babies,

Toddlers,

Older children,

Teenagers.

Adults:

Young adults,

Middle-aged,

Senior citizens.

It is important to remember these groups will have different needs. In this case you will need to satisfy all age groups, children make up a large percentage of the leisure industries customers; therefore it pays to accommodate them.

* Businessmen.

Businessmen are also customers in the leisure and tourism industry. They may use transport, hotels, restaurants and even components such as cinemas. Many hotels offer special facilities such as conference rooms so that more businessmen use their services.

* People from different cultures.

Cultural background influences traditions, tastes, opinions and behaviour. It is important to recognise that different cultures have different needs and behaviour. It is easy to assume that everyone has the same culture as us but this is not true,

* In South Africa a caf� is a grocery shop and won’t sell coffee.

* In Japan you have to wear special slippers before using the bathroom.

* In Turkey it is considered rude to blow your news in public.

It is important to remember to remember not to make assumptions based on culture.

* Non-English speakers.

Often non-English speaking customers will use leisure and tourism facilities, it is obvious you shouldn’t be able to speak all foreign languages, but even if you can only speak a little of the customers language such as saying hello or goodbye it is a real help.

Even if you cant speak the language many languages share common words, also the use of facial expressions and body language can help communication.

* People with specific needs.

Some customers have specific needs that require specific customer service. A specific need is anything that requires a wheelchair, sight or hearing aids or anything to help with disability.

It is important that you help these people but they do not want to be made to feel different or a nuisance. What they do need is for you to be able to act quickly and accurately so that they are able to enjoy the service or product you offer as much as they can.

The benefits of excellent customer service.

A large part of any leisure and tourism’s operations involve dealing with customers and satisfying their needs. Therefore it makes sense that providing a high standard of customer services is the main priority; however it is important to take into account both internal and external customers.

External customers are what we would normally think of as customers, they are not part of the organisation and they are the people who the organisation sells products to.

Internal customers are other people and departments who work in organisation and may need to use your services. Internal customers include other companies what provide your company with goods.

External customers are by far the most important part of any leisure and tourism organisation, this is because without customers there would be no organisation. The benefits of good customer services are-

Increased Sales.

All leisure and tourism facilities organisations aim to maximise the number of customers who buy their products. If the company increases sales or usage of facilities then they are more likely to hit their targets. Better services can increase profits like this-

Excellent Service

Customer loyalty/ repeat business

Recommendations/ new business

More customers.

However, costs must be taken into consideration. It costs money to provide a good service that must be paid for out of the profits. This means instead of just throwing money at a problem, many companies will monitor how effective customer service is, then evaluate how to spend money on customer services.

Satisfied Customers.

The dictionary defines satisfaction as to adequately meet expectations, this is not the case in leisure and tourism as adequate is the minimum that needs to be done. In leisure and tourism a company should exceed the customers expectations to provide the best possible service.

Repeat business and recommendations.

The point of good customer service is to give your company a good reputation, so that customers return and so that they will recommend the company to others. Of course the reverse is also true. If you provide a bad service then the customer will recommend that people do not use you.

A better public image.

Leisure and tourism organisations that always provide good service will find they get a good public image. Existing customers will be pleased to use the products and new customers will be encourages to try the products. When a company gets a bad public image people become reluctant to use it.

An edge over the competition.

We have seen how customer service is one of the main concerns of any leisure and tourism company, simply the customers are the business. Many of the products they offer are similar, the way to get more customers is to offer a better service.

Benefits of good service for internal customers.

Most companies employ a large number of employees who must work as a team. To operate efficiently they must support each other to maintain high standards of customer service.

Internal customer service is the way staff work together to provide service both to each other and to external customers. Internal customers are your colleagues who you work with and rely on.

If you have already been in a job that involves working with others to provide customer service, then it is possible that you received bad internal customer service. This makes your job much harder and often cause you to make mistakes. This causes bad customer service and bad colleagues do not last long in the industry.

More pleasant Place to Work.

Simply being friendly, helpful and supportive to colleagues creates a better environment to work in. It also benefits you whilst working with external customers as they can often tell whether you are enjoying your work or not.

A Happy and Efficient Work Force.

Working well together means that staff are happy to carry out their work. A further, very important, benefit is that a more efficient workforce is able to produce far better customer service.

Job Satisfaction.

Good internal customer service means that staff will get more job satisfaction. This simply means they will enjoy their work more and are more likely to do it to their full capacity. This in turn means that customer service will be greatly improved.

Promotion.

The better you do your job the more likely you are to get promotion. The management of any good company need staff who are experienced in providing good customer service and are good at staff motivation. Therefore if you have these abilities then promotion with added responsibility and pay is often awarded.

* Personal Presentation.

Because such a large part of any job in the leisure industry involves dealing with people, the way in which you are attired and presented is very important. The way in which you are presented demonstrates a lot to how you approach your work, and also people’s first impressions of you are very important.

There are four key features o good personal presentation:

* Dress

* Personal hygiene and appearance

* Personality

* Attitude and behaviour.

Dress.

Appropriate dress depends on the task in hand. A personal trainer will wear casual sports clothing so they look the part for their job and can easily carry out physical tasks, a manager will wear suits so they look smart and business like. The attire of the person in any company shows how committed to the job they are and is very important.

Personal hygiene and appearance.

Appearance does not only include a clean uniform but good personal; hygiene. Clean hair, hands, fingernails etc show that you have made an effort to present yourself. Make-up and jewellery may be important and employers may have rules concerning these, also the length of employees hair may be restricted as well as rules regarding beards and moustaches.

Males staff.

Female staff

Hair- short, clean, no hair gel.

Hair- clean, tied back if below shoulders.

Jewellery- wedding ring only.

Jewellery- wedding ring, small ear rings.

Make up- none.

Make up- subtle.

Hands- clean, well manicured nails.

Hands- clean, well manicured.

Shoes- black polished, dark socks.

Shoes- black, polished, black or natural coloured tights or stockings.

This is the uniform for Go-Europe Travel employees.

Personality.

The word personality simply means having a distinctive character. However, we usually use it in a positive way, as in “he has lots of personality” meaning the person is likeable or outgoing and good to be around. In giving excellent customer service it is important for people to see you as a person who has a caring personality. Of course, different jobs require different sorts of personality. This is how interviewers know what sort of person they are after for a job and have a clear image of who it is they will employ.

Attitude and Behaviour.

Your attitude and behaviour towards the customers are a very important part of your overall personal presentation. Customers are very sensitive to how staff react and behave towards them. Very often it will seem a shop assistant or similar just isn’t interested. This means no matter how good the product is the customer will not feel satisfied. The best things to do to ensure the customer is satisfied:

* Attend to them straight away

* Show interest in what they say

* Ask them questions to make sure that you know exactly what they want

* Avoid distraction by concentrating on the customers at all times when serving them

* Be friendly and encouraging

* Smile

It is important to understand that all aspects personal presentation – dress, hygiene, and behaviour – apply to any customer service situation, whether you are dealing with the customers face to face, over the telephone or in writing.

Dress code at work placement (Riley’s snooker club).

All staff had a similar dress code, this was a Riley’s tee shirt with black trousers and shoes. The only variation was that bar staff wore blue shirts, and waiter service staff wore red shirts.

Cleanliness was imperative at Riley’s as the staff handled food, this meant that personal hygiene (especially clean hands) needed to be at a high standard so that food was safe for customers.

There appeared to be no restrictions on use of make up, hair or jewellery at the establishment. This seemed unimportant though as staff seemed to treat image with respect and looked as though they were dressed to work.

Keeping customer records.

Customer service involves more than dealing directly with the customer, it involves also the keeping of customer records.

These records may be kept to-

* Keep an organisation informed on customers.

* Inform other people in the organisation.

* Liase/deal with customers

* Improve customer services.

Why would a snooker club keep customer records?

Riley’s needs to keep records on all its members. They use these to see when the membership fees need to be paid, to tell customers about special offers, and also to make sure it is the actual person who has the membership card not someone imposing as them.

Customer records are kept by all organisations in the industry, they keep them for various reasons-

* Travel companies keep information on a customers reservation, they do this to make sure the customer is in the right place and so that they can easily contact the customer.

* Theatre keeps records on performances a customer has seen, this is so that they can contact that customer about future performances that may be of interest to the customer.

* Keep records of complaints and solutions, this is so they can make sure the problem doesn’t re-occur in future.

Providing accurate information.

When an employee has to provide information it is important what they say is accurate. Examples of this are-

* Visitors to a tourist information centre expect the staff to be knowledgeable about local facilities and services.

* Guides at a heritage site should know and be able to answer questions about the history of the site.

* A travel agency clerk should be able to answer customer’ queries about things like health and visa requirements for visiting other countries.

Anyone who is employed in the leisure and tourism industry needs to know the sort of questions they will need to answer. Certain questions and need to know how to reply. Computers are becoming more frequently used as a way of providing information, some people think this way of communicating has taken the personal touch out of the industry d reduces the level of customer service. Nevertheless, in many situations this is a quick and effective way of providing the correct information.

Giving advice.

At times customers need more than plain information, they sometimes need advice. They may need advise them on suitability of the products or services such as:

* A customer at a sports centre might want to know which sessions are best for people with mobility impairments.

* A customer in a restaurant may want advice on which dishes are suitable for vegetarians.

* A visitor to the cinema may as whether a film is suitable for young children.

* A customer in a travel agency may want to know where to go on holiday that is sunny but not too expensive.

Giving advice is a big responsibility, the customer relies on you to give good advice in order to get the best possible customer service. It is always best to be honest and if in doubt to fetch a supervisor who will be able to offer the best advice. Depending on what type of customer you have they will need varying amounts and types of advice. People on holidays in foreign countries often ask for advice on health and safety issues, many tour operators now produce special leaflets because of this.

Receiving and passing on information.

In many customer service situations you will be asked to take and pass on messages. This may be from staff to staff, staff to customer, or customer to customer. In all situations the accuracy of the message is vital, as a mistake could mean that totally incorrect information is passed on. In many places a special message pad or similar is used to send messages, sometimes a computer link is set up between different parts of place or between different buildings of a national company to send information quickly and accurately.

Providing assistance.

In many leisure and tourism situations customers need special assistance from staff to meet their needs and allow them to enjoy a product being offered, this could be-

* A customer in a wheelchair who can’t operate a lift to reach a higher floor of a building.

* A visitor to the cinema who expects to receive assistance in finding a seat.

* A businessperson at a conference who needs help in operating an overhead projector.

Keeping records.

Records of customers need to be kept so that an organisation can operate efficiently and can meet the needs of the customers. Records allow the company to contact a customer about things that they might be found interesting. For example:

* A travel agency keeps files containing the customers’ holiday reservation details.

* A theatre keeps files on existing customers showing what performances they have attended.

* A health club has details on customers, including any medical problems.

* A hotel has records of guests who have stayed before, with details of any special requirements.

* An organisation may have records of past customer complaints and the action taken to satisfy the customer.

The records need to be created in a certain way, any organisation that uses records will have a specific procedure to create records. This may be paper based or computer based, however they do it you must know how to create an accurate record. The records must be accurate, if they are not they are useless. If a record is 995 accurate it cannot be used as you cant be certain which aspects of it are incorrect. It is the staffs’ responsibility to make sure that records are not made public and are kept accurate. To keep accuracy the customers must follow the guidelines on how to edit a record if this is necessary as making an incorrect edit can make the information invalid.

Dealing with problems

If all ran smoothly there would be no problems with customers, however problems cannot be avoided and learning to deal with them is a skill that needs to be acquired. Whether the problem is the fault or company or not, if it is not solved the customer will not be satisfied.

Dealing with dissatisfied customers.

Sometimes problems occur and customers are not satisfied with the service they get. Handling complaints is a complex process, the customer must be pacified , the best way to do this is to compensate them for the sake of the companies reputation. Letting them leave dissatisfied will lead to a bad reputation.

Offering extra services.

Customers in leisure and tourism usually want no more than customers in any other organisation and well-trained staff should find them easy enough to handle. However a situation may arise where a customer needs more than the normal amount of service and it is the staffs responsibility to act effectively. In these sorts of situation the staff need to make the right choice and not to let the customer leave dissatisfied, this means that you must either get them what they need if possible, or if it is nor plausible then you should make a suggestion to help them.

For example, a customer may request a taxi, this may not be possible if the company has no outside phone line. However if there is a taxi rank nearby then the customer could be directed to this to save them time in finding it.

Work experience.

During my work experience I was involved in many customer service activities, mainly involving serving a customer or offering them some other service.

This is my diary of customer service at Riley’s snooker club,

Day 1 – On day 1 I was involved in an initiation programme detailing how to handle customers and also about health and safety. I provided a service to the customers by cleaning snooker tables and fixing broken snooker cues.

Day 2 – On day 2 I stocked drinks and served non-alcoholic beverages to customers and booked tables. I later cleaned some more of the tables and cooked food in the kitchen.

Day 3 – On day 3 I stocked the drinks, and cleaned the remaining tables. I then helped serve drinks although it was quiet and I didn’t have much else to do.

Day 4 – On day 4 I delivered leaflets to the local cachment area and finished my shift serving drinks.

Day 5 – Day 5 was the night shift in which I spent doing waiter service, I carried drinks and food to the customers where they were playing snooker and gave out sandwiches (provided free by the establishment).

This shows the skills I had to learn whilst in the establishment concerning customer services. Previous to this I had never served customers or waited on tables, also I had to learn other skills such as how to clean snooker tables and how to stock drinks properly (as improper stocking leads to prosecution).

Types of customers at Riley’s.

At Riley’s there were mainly individual males as customers, however the company also targeted young people, families and groups. It may have been beneficial for the company to target businessmen also but this aspect would require the place re-working

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