No customer alike

Certificate II in Hospitality – dealing with conflict at work or at schoolNo one customer is the same, so how do you know what each want? Customers vary in age, gender, personality, job, and overall, what they want from your business. Knowing how to deal with each customer and how to gauge or how to approach them is an art form, and something that takes time to perfect. Customer service and hospitality can be one of the most challenging, but it can also be the most rewarding when you win that customer over.

Market research tells you, in general terms, what your customer wants, but customer feedback tells you whether you are supplying what they want. Customer feedback and listening to each customer and what they want is important. Never assume what your customer wants and needs. You can achieve a good relationship with a customer based on offering sound product knowledge, listening to what they have to say, identify hidden customer needs, empathising with the customer and sell the customer the product that they want and need – not what you want to sell. It is all about creating a relationship with the customer based on honesty, integrity and trust.

If you try and force a customer to purchase a product, they most likely will become uncomfortable and try and retreat from the situation. Customers do not like being ‘sold’ or forced to purchase a product, they consider it to be rude and inconsiderate. If you do this, you will not only lose a sale but also a customer.

Often, customers do not express their needs in a clear and concise manner, which is easily interpreted. It is your job to assist the customer and identify what they need. To do so, you will need to ask a variety of questions that are: open ended, close ended, probing and reflective.

To explain a little more what these are:

Open-ended questions: An open-ended question is designed to allow the customer to provide more than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, they have to go into more detail to provide you with an answer. They can also be used to keep the conversation going. An example, “What are you planning to buy today?”

Close-ended questions: These sorts of questions are meant to get a clear and concise answer, usually a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’. They are usually used to obtain specific information which was not mentioned in the open-ended question. For example: “Were you looking for a carrot?”

Probing questions: A probing question is used to gain further information and clarification. For example: “How much time does the project take?”

Reflection questions: This kind of questions provides the customer a time to reflect on the options that have been provided. For example “So which one would you like?”

If you are able to talk to customers and create a relationship, you will be able to gain a better insight into what they want and need, each time they come into the business. This is as they will be more open and willing to discuss the options with you, and you will feel more comfortable to talk to them. Relationships formed in customer service are important, as it means that customers will continue to return. Each customer is indeed different, and with customer service in hospitality – you must be able to cater for a variety of people and be open.