CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE: Ensuring the Heart of your Business Functions at its Best
The success or failure of businesses and destinations in the tourism and hospitality industry depends on service. That is why prioritising a quality customer experience is non-negotiable, as it is a way to achieve business profitability.
The book Introduction to Tourism and Hospitality in B.C. published by BCcampus Open Education defines Quality Customer Service as “an experience of feeling valued or heard.” This implies that customers want high-quality and engaging interactions.
Customers these days expect more than ever before. The truth is, they no longer compare you just to your direct competition; rather, you are being compared to the best service they have ever received – from any company or any person. They now know what great customer service looks like, and they expect it from you.
Businesses that excel in this area are often able to gain a significant competitive advantage over rivals, satisfying ever-increasing customer expectations, generating customer loyalty, and building positive reputations. It is an intangible component of why customers tend to prefer a provider over another. Assisting customers with their needs will help grow your business into a trusted brand that others will flock to.
Research shows that guest satisfaction is heavily influenced by service factors such as employee attitude and the pacing and order of services provided. The greater the client satisfaction, the higher the revenues for a given business.
Improving customer service is a never-ending challenge and there are best practices that can be followed to ensure that you stand out by giving the best customer experience.
1. Meet your customer expectations.
Not meeting your customer’s expectations is a mortal sin--- the worst situation that customer service could get into. Customers want to have their issues resolved in a single interaction, without having to contact the company representative. If the issue is too complex to get resolved with self-service, they want to deal with a knowledgeable customer service representative.
There are many companies that actually fail to deliver the customer service their clients expect, resulting in a lot of frustration from the latter’s side. You do not want to become one of those companies!
2. Develop a strong and lasting relationship with your customers.
There is no better way to show customers that you care than actually listening to their feedback and responding with the necessary actions. If they have suggestions to enhance your business processes and services, make them feel that you really listen to their requests and act on them by making your product development roadmap public and constantly updating them on the status of their suggestions/feedback.
3. Provide several contact options.
Customers want to have a variety of options for contacting you when they are in need. Their preference depends on the complexity of the inquiry. For instance, if the interaction is simple like checking the bank balance, they will want to use either email or an online self-service. On the other hand, if the problem is more complicated, talking to a live agent via the phone is preferred. This is why offering several contact options is a must.
In addition, if you have a company website, make sure that your support center is easy to find, noticeable, and accessible.
4. Be proactive.
Do not wait for your customers to get in touch with you to talk about their questions and their problems. Be the one to reach out. Ask whether they have any inquiries. Maximize online tools to connect to your customers, and one way of doing so is through live chats.
5. Respond on time.
Having a variety of platforms for communication is one thing; responding on time is another. Response time is the average time it takes your customer service agent to respond to your client’s inquiry via one of the channels, and this is a crucial aspect. Nobody likes to wait, so you have to ensure that you respond on time.
6. Offer self-service.
Customers want to solve their problems fast, without hanging on the phone for hours. In fact, even those aged over 55 first visit the website first before calling the customer service. This shows that the online experience your customers get is critical for further interaction to be positive.
Quite often, small problems can be solved automatically with the help of self-service, so it is important to create a platform that will answer as many questions your customers might have as possible. To organize self-service, you can introduce chatbot scenarios for most popular requests and organize extensive searchable articles & FAQs.
7. Constantly create a personalized experience.
The new travel trend is about personalised experiences. With this, clients expect customer service representatives to know their contact and the product/service information history. Sending relevant promotions, offers, discounts, sales, and deals to customers via email or other channels based on their purchase history is one step you can do.
8. Solve the problems.
It is a very simple notion, yet many customer service employees fail to understand what this actually means. This is what customer service is about. You should not only provide customers with relevant information but also solve their problem, instead of making them figure it out for themselves.
With that, invest in training your employees in providing the best customer service and learning to come up with creative ways to solve the issues your customers encounter. This should gear towards every call made and every email sent being a move towards solving the problem.
In the world of technological advancement, the industry should not neglect the importance of the “human element” in the customer experience.
Customer service is the heart of a business, serving as the direct connection between you and your customers. Providing an excellent service can involve extra resources, time, and money; but when you get it right, it will enable you to stand out from your competition, maintain a positive reputation among future customers, and encourage existing customers to purchase from your business again.