“When service fails-first treat the person, then the problem”
Ref: FGASA – care for customers manual
In Field Guiding as in any service related industry, complaints are inevitable, and as such, any aspirant or current field guide should be aware that they will have to deal with a complaint or two during their guiding career!
Prevention is better than cure! Take it upon yourself to ensure that you as the guide are prepared and have planned your guests’ itinerary right down to the smallest detail to minimise any remote chance that something could go wrong resulting in a complaint. Having said this, you as a guide work in a team, and often do not have complete control over other departments that you may rely on, for example the cooking staff, therefore despite all the planning you may have done things could still go awry. That is fine do not be afraid – rather see this as an opportunity to hone and improve your service skills and to create a happy and satisfied client!
There will be times that complaints will be lodged in a persistent, rude and even confrontational manner towards you, just remember the GOLDEN Rule – REMAIN CALM AND IN CONTROL! Your reaction will greatly influence the outcome of the situation, and furthermore distinguishes you as being a truly great Field Guide as opposed to merely an adequate one.
We are only human I know, and at times our personalities change given the circumstances we find ourselves in, however, by paying attention to some behavioural traits such as avoiding (1) confrontational behaviour and (2) avoidance of the problem, will pave the way to promoting an amicable solution to the problem. Bear in mind that the complaint has come about because the client was not in control of the given situation, so do not take anything said personally! (Unless of course you did “drop a catch”, in which case: refer to the GOLDEN RULE! above)
To further resolve complaints, try to (3) cultivate an environment where compromise can be discussed and agreed upon by both parties, as well as encouraging collaboration – both parties solving the problem instead of trying to prove who is wrong and who is right.
In summary, by exercising the following key principles, handling of complaints will become a well-earned skill that will benefit you in your career path, and ensure continued visits from Safari goers all over the World: –
- Maintain and enhance the clients’ self-esteem
- Ask for help in solving a complaint/problem
- Listen and respond with empathy Ref: FGASA – care for customers manual
Remember, it is far less expensive to fix a problem, than to find a new customer!
Yours in trouble free guiding
Trainer @ Bushwise Field Guides