Written By: Andy Ogg – Editor for Travel Professional NEWS
My family and I recently relocated to Vista, CA from Riverside, CA. While not too far in distance apart, these two homes are total opposites in both style and location. While we couldn’t be happier to be in our new house, the move taught us all some very important lessons that relate to business, of all types. From the day we listed our home on the market, our life changed and for the next 40 days, all we could do was stay calm, weather the storms and hold on.
Between our realtor, utility companies, insurance brokers, underwriters and those curve balls of life, lessons were learned. A few of these lessons were that it seems the level of customer service in business now-a-days has fallen array and that makes every portion of the task harder to enjoy. No one really cares what you want, their concern is what they need. A pleasurable customer service experience, much like a diamond in the rough, can make a customer for life out of nothing.
Through this experience, I have learned and applied three things to my personal and professional life. So far, they have helped.
- Know Your Client
Are you Facebook friends with your clients? If you are not, you should be! Do you follow them on Twitter? Do you follow them on Yelp or Pinterest?
The old saying of “Knowledge is Power,” comes to mind as we live in an ever increasingly digital world. Information and preferences become available to anyone, now as scary as that sounds, it could be the next step in knowing your clients, allowing you to cater and provide the perfect adventure just for them.
To clarify, I am not saying to obsessively shadow your better clients but keeping track of their habits can put you into the next level of knowing their wants and needs when they are ready for their next adventure. If you followed Mr. Gomez on Yelp and recently saw that most of his reviews and ratings were at Italian restaurants, it could be safe to say that on his next trip booked with you, a 5 star Italian cuisine suggestion may put you on his favorite person list. Whether it be a restaurant, bar, event or musical preferences, knowing your clients likes and dislikes will help you create the perfect trip for them.
Asking questions in the planning process can help you learn more about your client. Many of us are reserved when asking questions, even simple ones, without the questions, we will never learn or know more. Take the time and create a portfolio of your client that you can review, add to and improve upon over the years of taking care of all of their travel needs.
- Prepare your Clients
Ms. Collins is a new client who has approached you for a trip throughout Europe after graduating College. Your expertise in Europe drew her in and she hopes to learn more about culture, art and herself in her travels.
Ms. Collins has not travelled much up until this point and had no need for a passport until this trip, it would be safe to say that you are not only her Travel Professional in charge of planning her trip but an advisor responsible for educating Ms. Collins on what to expect on her adventure.
Ms. Collins may not be fully aware of the challenges of her trip and the best way to keep her as a client for life is to prepare and educate her on cultural differences, traditions, dangers, secret spots, and what to expect on her adventure. This will not only take her voyage to a place of safety and confidence, but also to experiences of all the good that you have experienced or read of in her destination. Ms. Collins will appreciate your inside knowledge when she returns home with nothing but positive memories.
- Alert your Clients
With so many ways of processing communication these days, your job as a Travel Professional doesn’t end when the documents are handed over to your client. If you want to take your service and relationship to the next level, keep in touch with your client during their trip. If a flight delay occurs, email or text them letting them know prior to their own discovery. If a booked hotel opens construction on the next room over, let them know what their options are and what to expect. If a storm is brewing, a heads up never hurts to make sure they are not caught outside.
A simple message to your clients may be the thing that changes their trip from great to amazing and that level of customer service will not only be appreciated but remembered. We all have found ourselves in an interesting situation traveling, in my opinion, those are my favorites. However, those interesting, possibly unsafe or uncomfortable situations may ruin a trip for your client and with your help can be avoided.
Customer service can be defined as “the assistance and advice provided by a company to those people who buy or use its products or services.” I would like to re-define that term for our industry and for your clients. Customer service should be defined as “the devotion and compassion to work diligently to accommodate your customers desires and wishes for a goal that encompasses both active parties.”
Let’s re-define customer service as an industry.