As the internet continues to take hold of the travel industry and offer travelers cheap DIY options, it’s becoming more and more important for tour operators like yourself to differentiate your offering from your competitors. Exceptional customer service is a great way to keep your business associated with the tailor-made goodness that you’ve worked so hard to build into your itineraries.
So whether you’re already focussing on customer service and just want to take it up a notch, OR you’re just starting out – we’ve put together our favourite tips and advice when it comes to customer service for tour operators.
1. Keeping customers matters
Most businesses have two types of customers: new business and repeat business. Suprise, surprise…tour operators are no exception to this rule. So, while attracting new customers is key to expanding your business, retaining and growing your existing customers is 5 times cheaper than acquiring new ones, according to Invesp.
To make matters even better, the same study revealed that your existing customers are 50% more likely to try a new product and will spend on average 30% more than a new customer would. What’s the secret recipe, you may ask? It’s loyalty.
Building loyalty with your existing customers is what makes them stay, makes them spend more, and is what drives them to want to tell their friends and colleagues about YOU and your awesome company! Focusing on customer service is one of the best ways to ensure that you’re building loyalty that will last a lifetime.
2. It’s the small things that matter
For those of you that deal with travellers from all around the globe, taking time to learn greetings and basic phrases in their first language is a great way to show you care about them and about the place they come from. To start, why not find a private tutor on Superprof who can upskill your team on a language, your customers will love the special touch, and it’s a great team bonding activity too.
Excellent customer service doesn’t always necessarily mean you have to go to extravagant measures to please and delight your customers. Even the smallest gestures like taking the time to learn your customer’s names and personal interests will help them feel valued.
Although these personal touches are lovely, when you’re dealing with hundreds of travelers these sorts of relationships can be difficult to maintain. Lucky for you it’s 2018 and there are some fantastic solutions available to make building connections a little more manageable.
For example, using a tour operator software with built-in CRM (customer relationship management) functionality will mean all of those small and important details can be captured and stored in a central location. When it comes time to reconnect with one of your customers you can easily pull up all of their information such as activities they prefer, allergies and any other special requirements.
To understand a little more about good CRM practice check out this helpful article.
3. Price isn’t everything
If you’re a tour operator that focuses on service it’s important to remember that your customers and potential customers may not be as concerned with price as you may think. Often a knee-jerk response to wanting to please customers is to discount. However, an American Express Global Customer Service survey found that customers in a number of different markets (including Australia, the US, UK and Canada) valued customer service over and above price.
The same American Express survey found that the majority of customers around the globe have and will back away from a sale if they are met with even one instance of under par customer service. So, if you decide as a business that customer service is going to be your leading point of difference then it is equally important to put checks and processes in place to ensure your service standard is upkept. A basic rule of thumb is to set the standard early on and ensure that it’s maintained throughout your customer’s journey with you.
4. Repeat customers will make your accountant happy!
Long story short, good customer service will keep your customers coming back. As we discovered earlier, those repeat customers cost 5 times less to retain than acquiring new customers, which is a big plus for your bottom line.
Losing customers can be even more costly to your business. According to Entrepreneur.com, lost customers as a result of poor customer service cost businesses US$83 billion every year. Making sure you don’t fall into that category will help keep your business cash positive and ultimately keep your accountant happy. It’s a win-win!
5. Make things easy
Taking it a step further and delighting your customers with things that they didn’t even know they wanted is a sure way to strengthen that relationship even further. Providing them with online accessible itineraries that you can update in real-time if something changes, going the extra mile and providing them with local knowledge or even recommending a great restaurant will make your customers’ travels more fulfilling.
Going above and beyond can sometimes feel like a burden that is taking away precious time you could be spending on other customers. In fact, this is one of the very reasons we were inspired to create Tourwriter. By using tour operator software you can slice hours off other more menial tasks like quotes, bookings, and itinerary creation and reinvest the time saved in serving your customers better. Growing your business through customer loyalty and those all-important, sought after, referrals.