Thursday, 29 June 2017

Thomas Cook staff communicate to deaf clients.

Thomas Cook agents learn sign language to serve clients
Staff at Thomas Cook’s first Discovery store have learned sign language to communicate better with deaf and hard of hearing customers – and hope other branches will follow suit. Senior travel consultant Denise Hart and manager Peter Ryan at Thomas Cook’s Westfield branch in Stratford, east London, took a course, which was funded by the company.  Hart came up with the idea and pitched it to her manager, who sought funding for the training.

She estimates she has 10-15 regular customers who are deaf or hearing impaired.  She said: “We have a lot of deaf customers and it’s not always right for them to write down what they want: you need to be able to speak and communicate with the client.   “People feel they have to ask for pen and paper, but we want to build up rapport [further]. By learning sign language we can communicate properly with clients.”

Ryan said: “We are hoping that it will be a pilot for other Discovery stores. It’s a good example of Cook’s mission to put the customer at the heart of what it does.”  The pair learnt sign language gestures specific to travel and holidays. Ryan said: “We’ve been able to use our new skills with two regular customers so far – they were totally stunned!”

Kathryn Darbandi, director of retail and customer experience, said: “It’s always fantastic to see how far our colleagues will go to look after our customers.”

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