VUSSC/Content/Tourism/Applying Effective Communication Skills/Handling enquiries and complaints

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Handling Enquiries and Complaints

A tour guide will constantly be asked questions. There are times when clients are just requesting information but there will also be times when they are making complaints. This individual needs to be able to respond to any enquiries in order to have a satisfied customer at the end of the conversation.

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Read the following scenarion and answer the questions, which follow.

Mr and Mrs Kelly are on an island discovery tour that they designed for themselves. They have arrived in a small village just before lunch. It has not been a good morning. Their rental car developed engine trouble and they wasted several hours getting it repaired. When they contacted the car hire firm, they were told that the repairs would have to be carried out at their own expenses, since the car had been certified in good running order when the Kellys collected it. Mr Kelly is very annoyed about this.

They decide to stop, have some lunch, and reschedule their itinerary. Mrs Kelly wants to buy some headache tablets and some new maps. They park the car and go into the shop on the main street. The place is deserted. Mrs Kelly calls for service but nobody appears. The Kellys wait for a few minutes, then walk out, even more annoyed than before. In the bookshop, where they hope to find some maps, the two salesgirls were chatting to each other behind the counter and treated the Kellys as thought they were invisible. Once again, the Kellys walk out without buying anything.

By now, it is 1.00 PM, so the Kellys decide to have lunch and then drive on. They walk into a cafe that has a sign on the door advertising lunches. It is crowded inside and the Kellys have trouble finding somewhere to sit. Eventually somebody comes to take his order.Sorry, he says, we are all out of the special. There are only toasted sandwiches left.

At this point, Mr Kelly loses his temper. This is the last straw, he shouts. I demand to see the manager.

1. What caused the complaint?

2. Could the complaint have been prevented? How?

3. What were the good and bad points about the way Mr Kelly was handled?



  • 1.Listen to the client: Be courteous and pay keen attention to what the client has to say
  • 2.Take notes: If the information is too much for you to remember or if you are taking the inquiry over the telephone, take notes.
  • 3.Repeat information: Paraphrase what the customer has asked in order for you to verify that you have accurate information.
  • 4.Honor request: Make sure that you are knowledgeable about your product. If you do not have the answer on hand, assure customer that you will give them requested information as soon as possible.


Complaints should be looked upon positively. It is a way of preventing other complaints. It is also a way of receiving feedback from clients to let you know how you are performing. It is also an opportunity for you to improve your performance.


Angry customers present unique opportunities to re-win their allegiance. Somewhere one or more of their basic expectations were not met, and they are looking for solutions to the problem and some form of recovery. These basic facts are guiding principles for figuring out how to turn the negative into a positive.

1.Listen: focus on what the customer has to say. There is no need to become defensive. Do not interrupt, but questions can be asked to clarify that you understand the problem. Remember to take notes especially if you are receiving the complaint over the telephone

2.Thank the customer: always thank the customer for bringing the problem to your attention.

3.Paraphrase: after the customer is finished, summarize what the customer said to you so that the customer knows that you understand the problem.

4.Show Empathy: show that you understand how the customer feels. There is nothing wrong with apologizing for the customer’s suffering.

5.Act immediately: offer a solution to the problem. It is your responsibility to ensure that the problem is solved. It might be appropriate to ask the customer what can be done to make them satisfied.

6.Follow-up: it is important for you to follow through on any promises that were made to the customer.

Experts say that: ·Customers who complain are likely to tell an average of 10 others about their experience ·Sixty-six percent (66%)of all those who complain will return, if the problem is resolved.

It is in the interest of the tour guide to furnish information upon request to the customer and to solve all customer complaints in a positive and courteous manner.

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How would you handle the following situations?

1. A tourist complains that he finds a hair in his food and he wants his money back.

2. A tourist complains that he looses his watch during the tour.

3. The tourists complain that the guide arrives late to meet them at the hotel.