VUSSC/Content/Tourism/Applying Effective Communication Skills/Handling difficult customers

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Handling Difficult Tourists

The difficult customer is a little different from the customer with a complaint. Difficult customers are those who are hard to serve because of their personality or behaviour. At times they may appear rude, insensitive or impatient.

When dealing with difficult customers, it is important that you consider your choice of words since it will either improve communication or start a "fight".

Below are some real life examples from tourist evaluations in Vanuatu

  • "The guide didn't say anything"
  • "By simply driving past, we saw virtually nothing. I got better value by sitting in the back and reading my copy of 'Lonely planet'

The following are guidelines on how to deal with difficult tourists.

  • 1. Keep it Impersonal: If the customer did or said something wrong, point out the mistake without making him/her feel like you are attacking the individual. This might cause them to become angry and blame you.
  • 2. Stay Calm: Listen to what the tourist has to say and do not take it personally.
  • 3. Take Responsibility: Don't blame others for what happened. tell the tourist what they and you can do. Not what can't be done. Even if it is not a part of your job duties,tell what you can do to help.
  • 4. Show Empathy: "put yourself in the tourist's shoes". Try to see things from their perspective. Ask yourself "How is this tourist feeling?"
  • 5. Fix the Problem: Direct the tourist's attention to how you can fix the problem. Come up with a solution to fix the problem promptly and efficiently.

If you feel that the situation is getting out of control, there are times when you have to refer to your supervisor for advice.

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How would you handle the following situations?
  1. 1. The customer offends you personally.
  2. 2. The customer seems to want a "freebie".
  3. 3. After apologising, fixing the problem, going out of your way to make amends yet the customer is still unhappy.