Winning With Customers – Introduction (Preview)

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Winning With Customers cartoon people in call centre

Working through these lessons will help you to develop excellence in your dealings with customers. The aim is for them to be your ‘fans’, not just your ‘customers’. That way they’ll come back again and again, and tell everyone how great you are!

So we need to know how to create a great customer experience, whatever type of organisation we work for, and whatever our role is. And it’s not just those of you who interact with our customers who have an influence. ‘Back room’ functions too need to be carried out with customer satisfaction in mind, since everything we do affects them in the end. In addition what we do for our colleagues, and how well we do it, will affect how they do their job, which in turn will affect the experience our customers get from dealing with us.

What’s more, knowing how to give great service does not automatically mean people will do it. We’ve all had poor service at one time or another – unfriendly, slow, impersonal etc – but I bet it wasn’t because the people concerned didn’t know it was important. They were probably just busy, or stressed, or had just had a row at home! So while these lessons help you to know how to give great service, it also helps you adopt the right attitude – always!

How to complete the chapters

You can do the chapters in bits when it suits you. It should take about 20 hours in total. There are some reading and examples, and some fun exercises and activities to help you relate the ideas to your own role and situation. It is very important that you do these activities – they’ll really help your learning. In the gold version, there is an Action Plan template. Use this to make your plans for improving your customer service.


Chapter 1 -Who Is Your Customer?

  • How do we treat customers?
  • External customers
  • Internal customers

Chapter 2 – What Customers Need and Want

  • What exactly are they after?
  • What do they expect from us?
  • What happens when a customer is dissatisfied?

Chapter 3 – Service Excellence

  • What is it?
  • How do you achieve it?
  • How do you maintain it?

Chapter 4 – Providing Good Value

  • What is good value?
  • Perception of value

Chapter 5 – Communication With Customers

  • Communication process
  • Choosing the right words
  • Body language
  • Overcoming barriers
  • Dealing with ‘differences’

Chapter 6 – Customer Service Attitudes

  • Behaviour
  • Attitudes
  • Developing a positive attitude
  • Attitudes towards customers

Chapter 7 – Giving Customers Enough Time

  • Using time as a resource
  • Scheduling
  • Time logs
  • Prioritising

Chapter 8 – Handling Complaints

  • Thinking about feelings
  • Our attitudes towards complaints
  • Complaints process
  • Referring complaints to others

Chapter One 

Who is your customer?

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 be ‘External’ or ‘Internal’.

customer service cartoon

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 airport.
  • A passenger who books a flight to Sydney.

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 customer’s 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 for ever 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. Make some notes about each example

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 internal 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 Dept. 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 (hopefully) give our external customers? I suspect that when it’s a colleague our attitude may be different! “Oh it’s only for 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 some notes about each example, and include what might happen if you let them down.


Action Plan Activity 

Select one real external customer and one real internal customer and plan what you could do in future to make them real fans of yours.


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