VUSSC/Content/Tourism/Customer Care/Effective Communication with Customers who have Difficulties with Visual Communication Methods

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Effective communication with customers is always important. However, some customers may find it difficult to communicate with you in the usual way. This may be because of disabilities regarding their

  • hearing;
  • speech;
  • sight.

Responding to customers with hearing impairment

When speaking to a customer with a hearing impairment, the following may be useful:

  • Look at your customer, so that he or she can see your face.
  • Form your words making full use of your mouth – your customer may be able to read your lips.
  • Speak slowly and deliberately.
  • Check your customer understanding.
  • Do not shout.
  • Do not talk down to your customer – it is not their intelligence that causes the communication difficulty.
  • Be prepared to repeat yourself if necessary.
  • Use your hands to support your message.
  • Above all be patient.

If above attempts are unsuccessful you may consider writing things down and showing your words to the customer. You can also seek help from someone who is able to use sign language.

Responding to customers with speech impairment

When you listen to a customer with speech impairment:, you may find the following useful:

  • Listen carefully to what your customer is saying.
  • Tactfully, ask him/her to repeat anything you do not understand.
  • Be sympathetic – s/he may be frustrated by the difficulty he or she is experiencing.
  • Be patient, do not rush your customer or interrupt.
  • Confirm your understanding once you are aware of your customer’s message.

You may need to provide a pen and paper for your customer to write a message for you to read, if your customer requests it.

As with customers with a hearing impairment, if there is someone who is able to use sign language ask him or her for help.

Responding to customers with visual impairment

When communicating with a customer who has a visual impairment: you may find the following useful:

  • Be prepared to explain things that you might show to a sighted customer.
  • Explain what you are doing.
  • Take your customer to other parts of the building rather than sending him or her.
  • Remember that it is only the visual aspect of communication that causes difficulties.

Your organisation/agency may produce information for customers in large print or Braille formats to help visually impaired customers. Now complete activity 17.

Activity 17

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Describe what you would do in each of the following situations:

(i) A customer with a hearing impairment has asked you for information about a product or service.When you speak to the customer to provide the requested information, the customer does not understand what you are trying to tell him/her.

(ii) A customer with a visual impairment needs to fill in and sign a form.The customer tells you that he/she cannot see well enough to complete the form and asks for your help.

We need to be prepared to provide a little extra care to some customers with particular needs.