CUSTOMER SERVICE IN THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY
CUSTOMER SERVICE IN THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY
Whether someone is traveling for business or pleasure, the level of customer service they receive will help determine whether they comes back to you another vacation or warn their friends to avoid you and your travel agency. Travelers, after all, have a lot of options. Top-notch customer service is often the difference between choosing you or your competition.
Clients, particularly those on vacation, are looking to create memories. Clients expect you to be courteous, helpful and friendly. They also want you to be knowledgeable about the destination and attractions. Remember, many clients are visiting the destination for the first time and are unfamiliar with it. If you can inform your clients about attractions and sites, that will help them build trust and confidence in you and help them create memories that will last a lifetime.
The Online Effect
Most clients today are very Internet-savvy. They can find and book trips, and learn about destinations on their laptops and smartphones. They also tell the world about their experience with your business on online review sites. Bad feedback about customer service can be extremely damaging. If enough guests have bad experiences with your business, word will spread rapidly.
Apathy, complacency and people who complain in front of clients can sour their image of your business forever. Excellent customer service begins and ends with smiling staff members, positive attitudes and helpful, friendly tones. This is important for everyone — desk clerks, concierges and porters. Cheerful attitudes will greatly influence the joy guests take in their visit.
Complaints are Opportunities
The oldest adage in customer service is that the customer is always right, even if he’s 100 percent wrong. This is not just about making customers happy and keeping them from visiting your competitors, it’s also an opportunity to learn what shortcomings or problem areas your business might have. Courteously helping a guest solve a problem often creates a loyal patron more willing to return in the future.
Patience is Very Important
Not only is patience important to customers, but it’s also important to your business at large and must not be overlooked. Our clients reach out for advice and guidance. They may be confused and frustrated and have no idea where they want to go. Remember that great service beats fast service every single time. The time you spend with your clients can be used to better understand their needs and allow you to present the perfect vacation, while taking into account the client’s needs and budget.
Attentiveness is very important to your business. The ability to really listen to customers is very crucial for providing great service.
Listening to customer feedback is a must for any business looking to grow. Not only is it important to pay attention to individual customer interactions (watching the language/terms that they use to describe what they want in their vacation), but it’s also important to be mindful and attentive to the feedback that you receive.
Clear Communication Skills
Be cautious about how some of your communication habits translate to customers, and it’s best to err on the side of caution whenever you find yourself questioning a situation. When it comes to important points and details of a client’s trip, you must relay the information clearly to clients. You need to keep it simple and clear and leave nothing to doubt.
Knowledge of the Product
You should have an in depth knowledge of the travel business and you should be familiar with the destinations and resorts that you are offering. If you are asked a question and do not know the answer, tell your client you will find out and get back to them as soon as possible. Without thoroughly knowing the products you are offering you cannot successfully assist your clients. .
Ability to Use “Positive Language”
Sounds like fluffy nonsense, but your ability to make minor changes in your conversational patterns can truly go a long way in creating happy customers.
Language is a very important part of persuasion, and people (especially clients) create perceptions about you and your company based off of the language that you use. Always use positive speech when talking with clients.
Sometimes you’re going to come across people that you’ll never be able to make happy. Situations outside of your control (they had a terrible day, or they are just a natural-born complainer) will sometimes creep into your usual support routine, and you’ll be greeted with those “barnacle” customers that seem to want nothing else but to pull you down.
You need to develop basic acting skills to maintain your usual cheery persona in spite of dealing with people who may be just plain grumpy.
Time Management Skills
You should spend adequate time with your clients but the bottom line is that there is a limit, and you need to be concerned with getting your clients what they want in a timely, efficient manner. Don’t waste time trying to go above and beyond for a client when you know you cannot help them. An example of this would be a client that has an unrealistic budget. You will just end up wasting both of your time!
Ability to “Read” Customers
Many times you will not see your clients face-to-face, and in many instances (nowadays) you won’t even hear a customer’s voice! That doesn’t exempt you from understanding some basic principles of behavioral psychology and being able to “read” the customer’s current emotional state. This is an important part of the personalization process as well, because it takes knowing your customers to create a personal experience for them.
More importantly though, this skill is essential because you don’t want to mis-read a customer and end up losing them due to confusion and miscommunication.
Look and listen for subtle clues about their current mood, patience level, personality, etc., and you’ll go far in keeping your customer interactions positive.
A Calming Presence
You must develop the ability to stay calm under pressure even when things get hectic. Good customer service is not losing your cool when your client is expressing their discontent.
Goal Oriented Focus
This may seem like a strange thing to list as a customer service skill, but I assure you that it is vitally important. Even if you WOW” your clients, it may not generate the returns that you expect. If this happens, you must still remain positive.
Ability to Handle Surprises
Sometimes the customer support world is going to throw you a curveball.
Maybe the problem you encounter is something that you have never dealt with before. Or maybe the customer isn’t reacting how you thought they would. Whatever the case, it’s best to be able to think on your feet… but it’s even better to create guidelines for yourself in these sorts of situations.
Having a great work ethic and a willingness to do what needs to be done is a key skill when providing the kind of service that people talk about.
Remember that your customers are people too, and know that by putting in the extra effort your clients will come back to you and will refer their friends. Don’t “cheat” your customers with lazy service.
Being able to “close” with a customer means being able to end the conversation knowing that you have a happy client and knowing that you have done everything to please your client.
Willingness to Learn
The travel industry is constantly changing. Resorts open and close every day and we, as travel agents, must stay current and informed. You must be constantly improving your skills. If you do not, you will be get left behind by the people who are willing to invest the time to improve their skills.