Poor service and unfair treatment can turn people away from a business forever.
This section gives some simple, but effective ways to operate within the law and ensure customers walk away satisfied.
Customer dress codes
Businesses can set reasonable dress codes for customers.
This can include different standards of dress in different parts of the premises, or at different times of the day.
The same standards need to apply to everyone - it can be discrimination if a dress code treats one group of people less favourably than another, and it is unreasonable to do so.
For example, if there is a rule that no one can enter the premises wearing a singlet, it has to apply to both sexes.
As a business, before deciding on a dress code, ask the following questions.
- Is one sex treated more favourably?
- Are people from different cultural backgrounds or religions unable to comply?
- Are people with disabilities unable to comply?
If the answer to any of these is 'yes', the dress code may be discriminatory unless it is reasonable in the circumstances (for example the dress is required for health and safety reasons).
Display a dress code clearly for customers and make sure staff - including security contractors - apply it consistently.
The law entitles a transgender person to dress and live as a member of the sex with which the person identifies, even if it is different from their biological or birth sex.
Employers can impose reasonable dress codes, but cannot require a person to dress as a woman if he identifies as a man, or to dress as a man, if she identifies as a woman.
Discounts and deals
Discounts or deals which are only for some customers can be considered unlawful discrimination.
Some discounts and deals come under exemptions in the Act which allows discounts to fees, fares or admission tickets based on age or disability.
It is best to offer discounts and deals to all customers, but if you are unsure contact us for advice.
Tips for good customer service
- Smile and treat all customers well. Greet them and ask if they need help. Don't assume what people want or how much they will spend based on how they look.
- Meet different customers' needs. Good service is meeting their needs while being friendly and accommodating. For example, a person in a wheelchair may need you to rearrange seating.
- Understand that serving customers is your top priority. Make sure they are attended to before returning to other tasks.
- Know your product. Understand your products and services, and your policies such as return policies. Nothing wins customer confidence more.
- Make customers, not sales. Focus on being helpful even if you might not make an immediate sale. Happy customers are more likely to return and may also recommend your business to others.
- Deliver what you promise. Failing to deliver will almost certainly result in lost customers and reputation. If you can't fulfil a promise, offer some type of compensation, such as free delivery.
- Act professionally. Be friendly but not inappropriate. Respect people's boundaries and personal space. For example, some customers will not like being touched or called names like 'dear' or 'sweetheart'.
- Inform your customer. Keep them informed of your systems and processes. If they don't understand they will get impatient and angry. For example, if a customer has to go to another counter to process a refund, make sure they know it will be more efficient. Keep them informed about the progress of sales, services or repairs.
- Apologise. If things go wrong, make sure the customer knows you are sorry and want them to have the best possible experience under the circumstances. Most customers don't like to complain so treat them with respect.
- Resolve problems quickly. Encourage customers to come forward with problems. Know how to deal with them. Treat complaints seriously, fairly and quickly. Research shows that the chance of repeat business can go up 95 percent when complaints are resolved on the spot.