Customers come in various forms and with various needs the following questions are general and deal with possible needs in person (over the counter, at a reception desk or on the phone).

Servicing Customer Needs

As a staff member, it is your role to fulfil the needs of all stakeholders of the business. This includes both the “internal” and “external” customer. An “internal” customer is anyone who is associated with the provision of services to customers.

In summary, this includes:

  • Management and staff of the organisation
  • Suppliers and contractors who provide services to your organisation.

An “external” customer is anyone who receives the products and services provided by the organisation.

In summary, this includes:

  • Customers who enjoy the “offerings” at the venue – restaurants, functions, accommodation and bars
  • Customers who enjoy the “offerings” that are supplied to them, at a location not at the venue. This is common where a hotel provides catering at the customer’s location, or where a tour is conducted in multiple locations.

Regardless of the type of customer, it is vital that all staff provide suitable service and assistance to all its customers. In order to provide service to customers it is necessary to identify their needs and expectations. It is always dangerous to assume we know what these needs and expectations are because we might get it wrong. Sometimes customers will tell us what their needs and expectations are, and in other cases we will have to ask questions.

Servicing customer needs

We must do all that we can to meet the needs of our customers.

It is necessary to state, though, that these needs and requests must be of a “reasonable nature”. You are not expected to:

  • Break the law Humiliate or demean yourself
  • Meet any requests that involve you in doing anything that is unsafe or dangerous.
  • Where you are asked to perform anything that you consider dubious, you should excuse yourself, and immediately contact management.
  • Fortunately, most requests from guests are perfectly acceptable and well within our ability to satisfy.

While it is essential to treat all customers as individuals, every customer defines “service” differently. It is up to you to determine the individual definition of what follows, and provide it.

The following notes will indicate how to service customers, both with and without special needs. However, some general techniques apply. There is no doubt that when dealing with customers who have needs you need:

A genuine service ethic

  • Patience Excellent communication skills, especially non-verbal skills
  • A sense of humour
  • The ongoing need to be polite and courteous
  • Warmth and empathy
  • To know when to back off and allow people to help themselves. By all means make the offer, but accept that not all people need your help. Don’t let this “rejection” affect your offer the next time

To be yourself – don’t try to be someone else when dealing with those who have needs

To know your own personal limitations and realise when to:

– Involve another staff member

– Obtain an interpreter

– Refer them to somewhere, or someone, else

– Redirect them to another section, department or area within the store

Consistency. Make an offer to all people with needs so that they are able to rely on your willingness to help whenever they call in

To research what in-house support exists, or can be obtained, to help you serve these people.

Generic Customer Needs

Whilst every customer to the organisation has their own individual needs, there are a number of generic needs that staff must address when providing quality customer service. These needs include:

  • Value for money
  • “Offering” reflecting what was advertised
  • Expectations met or exceeded
  • To feel respected
  • To be dealt with in a prompt and courteous manner.
  • To receive assistance when necessary which is why we have excellent product and local knowledge and why we look for opportunities to pass this on to them whenever we can.
  • To be heard and understood which is why we listen to complaints and adopt the role of their advocate whenever there is a complaint, problem or dispute.

Special Needs Customers

As mentioned, all external customers will have their own individual needs that a venue must try to meet as a minimum, and exceed as standard protocol.

There are some customers with special needs that a venue must accommodate.

Customers who come to us with special needs may be categorised as:

  • Disabled
  • Unable to speak English
  • Having other special needs.
  • These needs can be “here today and gone tomorrow” needs.

We must make every effort to respond to those with special needs with the same professionalism as we respond to requests made by other customers.

We will normally identify people with special needs by sight, or through listening to them.

Where we are unsure about what specific needs they have we should use questions to identify what their needs are.

Disabled customers

In general, terms the same approach that is taken with other customers should apply to customers with a disability:

  • Don’t ignore them. Ensure you interact with disabled people in the same way as other customers
  • Greet them warmly and in a genuine and friendly manner.
  • Make an offer of assistance in relation to what you can offer or do for them. Don’t assume you know what they want. Don’t prejudge a disabled person’s wants from their disability
  • Ask questions and listen to the responses.
  • Make an offer of physical assistance where the person is physically disabled. Realise that most people treasure their independence.

On the Phone

Adopt a Positive Tone. Projecting an enthusiastic, natural, and attentive tone while on the phone can help a customer feel comfortable during a conversation. When you answer the phone, smile as you greet the person on the other line.  Although it may be a bit of a cliché, a smile can truly be heard through the telephone. Smiling as soon as you connect with the customer will begin the interaction positively and create room for a productive and friendly exchange.

Clear Enunciation

The ability to understand what someone is saying on the phone separates a productive conversation from one filled with tension. Whenever you are on the telephone, speak clearly.  Enunciate and use simple words and phrases.  Don’t use overly complex vocabulary or jargon. 

Be Sincere

Starting with the greeting, conversations over the phone must be sincere.  Say hello and be genuine.  Try to avoid scripted greetings as most sound artificial and inauthentic. 

Include the company’s name, your name, and offer your assistance as soon as you answer the phone.  If you’re receiving a transferred call or if you’re working on the switchboard, state the name of the department you are a part of in order to give the client the appropriate information.  Doing this will ease the customer into the exchange and let them know that you are calm and ready to help.

Use Their Name

As soon as you receive a customer’s name, use it. 

Write down the individual’s initials in order to ‘monogram’ the call.  This will help you remember the client’s name and will personalize the call for you. 

Leave the Customer Satisfied

As with most things, finishing a conversation on the right note can create lasting positivity and a satisfied customer.

In order to achieve a great ending to a telephone call, make sure that the caller understands the information you passed along before you hang up.  Ask the customer, “Is there anything else I can help you with?”  Answer any final questions he or she may have to ensure complete comprehension and satisfaction.  Also, provide any information that the customer might need in the future.  If he or she needs to call back, share optimal contact times and whom he or she should call. 


  1. What does the term “stakeholders” mean?
  2. Who might internal and external customers be?
  3. What does it mean when customer requests have to be of a “reasonable nature”?
  4. Is it OK to break the law to service a customer request as long as it is their idea and not yours?
  5. If asked to do something dubious, do you consult with management or rely on your own resources.
  6. If you know a customer speaks another language you should always speed read/ crash course the appropriate language course. True or false?
  7. Customers always or never tell us what their needs are?
  8. Name three things that make up a genuine service ethic.
  9. Name five ways we can service customer needs effectively.
  10. Which of these an effective way to handle complaints?
  11. Appear to listen. Take no action
  12. Say you will refer complaint to management, then do not because

they probably would prefer not to be bothered.

  • Appear to listen. Join in with the complaint. “Yes, we do that terribly.”
  • Handle part of the complaint, leave the rest to another staff member when your shift ends.
  • None of the above.
  • What special needs might customers have?
  • Is it rude to ask a customer with special needs what those needs might be?
  • All special needs customers can be identified by sight or how they sound over the phone. Are there any possible exceptions to this?
  • A disabled customer’s needs will always refer back to the disability. True or false?
  • True or false? Never make an offer of physical assistance to a disabled person because it’s insulting.
  • Positivity on the phone means saying “yes”. Is this correct or are there other elements?
  • Why is clear enunciation important?
  • Sincerity is important. What does this mean?
  • Using the customer’s name is important. Turning it into a shortened form is a memorable sign of friendliness. Is this correct?’
  • What actions of yours could lead to a phone customers being satisfied with the call?



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