Selling Skills – Who is your Customer? (Preview)

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Table of Contents:

Chapter 1:   Customers Needs & Wants

Chapter 2:   Service & Value for Moneycustomer service

Chapter 3:   Buying & Selling

Chapter 4:   Closure

Chapter 5:   Teams

Chapter 6:   Communication

Chapter 7:   Service Attitudes

Chapter 8:   Time Management

Chapter 9:   Complaints


CHAPTER 1 – Customers Needs & Wants

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module you will be able to:

  • Describe what is a customer
  • Describe the difference between internal and external customers
  • Describe why internal customer service is as important as external customer service

Before we ask ‘who’ is our customer, we need to know ‘what is a customer?’ A customer is anyone you provide goods or services for. They may pay you or your company for this, or may do something else for you in return. Customers can therefore be ‘external’ or ‘internal’.

External customers

These are people outside your company. They may be called many things, but in the travel and tourism industries they are usually referred to as clients, passengers or guests. They are all customers just the same!

External customers usually pay money for your goods or services. Examples might be:

  • Someone who rents a car from a car hire company at the airportFlight attendant short skirt
  • A passenger who books a flight to Sydney
  • A guest staying at a hotel

Do we always meet or communicate with our external customers? No. You could be working in your company’s accounts department. What you do still affects your company’s customers though, for example if you make a mistake. Or you could be a baggage handler at the airport – you load and unload your customers’ bags, but don’t ever meet them. However, what you do definitely affects their view of the service they get – for instance if their bag is lost or damaged or takes forever to reach the belt on arrival!

STOP + THINK Activity

Write down five external customers of yours. Name them if you can. Think of some real examples of what they might want you to do for them. Note down your thoughts in a notebook where you can accumulate all your course notes.

 Internal customers

These are people inside your company. They need you to provide them with information perhaps, or complete a task by a certain time. Your boss in fact is probably your biggest MC900060202internal customer! They don’t individually pay us for these services (though hopefully your company does), but if we let them down they can’t do their job properly. That in turn could mean that an external customer gets bad service. Examples might be:

  • A travel agent who needs tickets produced by us in the ticketing department to forward to a client
  • A call centre consultant who wants a quote from our department to discuss with a client

But how do we treat our internal customers? Do we give them the same consideration and prompt attention that we give our external customers? I suspect that when it’s a colleague our attitude may be different. “Oh, it’s only Joe. I can leave that for a bit”. Or “That’ll have to do for Mary. She’ll have to finish it off herself.”

STOP + THINK Activity

Write down five internal customers of yours. Name them and identify examples of what it is that they might want you to do for them. Add these notes to the ones for the previous activity.

Checkout these case studies in the images, and consider the questions regarding internal and external customer care.  Add any notes to your previously started notebook.


The Wilson’s holiday to Fiji goes wrong from the start:

The Wilson’s Trip to Fiji

Max is a travel consultant with Airways Travel in Brisbane. His clients, Mr & Mrs Wilson, are travelling to Fiji for a 10-day holiday. This is a special trip for their silver wedding anniversary.

When the Wilsons get to the airport there is difficulty checking in as Mr Wilson assumed they didn’t need tickets. He frequently travels domestically and all his flights have been e-tickets for as long as he can remember.

However, as this is an international flight, he did need tickets, and they were not sent by Airways Travel.

Mr Wilson is furious and as he cannot check-in without tickets. He either has to go home and forfeit the trip or buy flight tickets again from the airline desk. Fortunately he has a fully loaded credit card so buys the tickets. It took so long to sort out that it made them late for check-in, causing anxiety for him and his wife. They also have to sit separately on the flight, as Max didn’t book any specific seats for them.

When they reached their destination there were further delays as they didn’t have the necessary travel vouchers for their airport transfers and boat trips out to Treasure Island. On arrival at their hotel they had no confirmation documents for the hotel reception and had to wait till all the other people had been checked into their rooms before the hotel would discuss their booking with them.

This was a terrible start to their special holiday, and ruined the first day or so.

Fortunately the Wilsons then went on to have a fantastic holiday. On their return Mr Wilson contacted Max at Airways Travel to complain about the lack of documentation and explained the difficulties they had experienced. Max was extremely concerned as he had left the booking with his colleague Sue to finalise while he himself was away, leaving detailed instructions around sending out the tickets and vouchers prior to departure. It turned out that the ticket wallet was still in the file drawer in the travel agency! Max’s colleague Sue seemed unconcerned saying “sorry about that, I can’t remember what happened… but hey, they got there in the end, didn’t they… so what’s the problem?”

Max knows the Wilsons are unlikely to use him, or his agency again, and is disappointed at the behaviour and reaction of his colleague Sue.

  • Who was the internal customer in this situation?
  • What kind of internal, and external, customer care was delivered?
  • How could this have been better handled?


Trouble at the Ponderosa Restaurant:

Ponderosa Restaurant_ poor cust experience_v2

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