Delivering excellent customer experience should be the top priority of your company. As a tour and activity operator, you need to consistently provide exceptional travel experiences to your customers to a) turn them into your brand ambassadors and b) keep them coming back for more.
However, according to McKinsey, "it takes patience and guts to train an organisation to see the world through the customer’s eyes and to redesign functions to create value in a customer-centric way. The management task begins with considering the customer—not the organisation—at the centre of the exercise."
Here's what tour and activity companies can do to put travellers back at the centre of their businesses.
Understanding the interactions through your customer's eyes
To put your customer back into the core of your business, you need to first identify understand your customer's journey. It's no longer about looking at the various customer touch points individually, but joining the dots to have an overview of the customer's journey.
For businesses, this means looking at your Facebook page, your website, your response to inquiry emails, the automated email that customers receive after making a payment, and the actual tour or activity itself, as one big picture and making sure that all these elements work together in synergy to create an exceptional experience.
Download the infographic and marketing tactics checklist:
Turn this insight into economic returns for your company by identifying what matters most to your customers. To do so, answer these two questions:
- What's my value proposition? How does my business add the most value to my customers? Do customers value your quality service? Or do they value your budget pricing? Where do you create the largest value for your customers?
- What valuable actions do I want my customers to take? How does this action lead to high financial gains for my business? Could this be booking your tour or perhaps booking ancillary services where you make a commission?
The few factors that satisfy these criteria is what you should focus on.
With these factors in mind, define the what sort of customer experience you want to achieve and why. "A distinctive customer experience depends on a collective sense of conviction and purpose to serve the customer’s true needs", according to McKinsey Quarterly.
Establish a common purpose with a few guiding principles that reflect your brand's values to bring your customers back in focus again.
Redesign your business beginning with your customer
To improve your tour company, first focus on improving the experience of the valuable action you want your customers to take. This could be making a booking for an upcoming tour via your website and improving the experience by reducing the number of steps needed to make that booking.
Then, reverse engineer the steps leading up to this valuable action to eliminate other pain points along the way. Think about the tools and technology available to help you improve your customer journey. What systems and processes can you improve with today's innovations (perhaps a tour operator software)? What parts of the customer journey would it improve?
This process of reflecting and improving is never ending and gearing your employees to continually look for ways to deliver better customer experiences can help you differentiate your business from competitors.
Align your organisation to deliver tangible results
Apart from convincing your team of guides and admin staff that they should focus on the customers, you should also empower them to deliver travel experiences that stand out. Encourage cross-collaboration between different teams to stimulate creativity.
Give them the authority to make on-the-spot decisions when necessary, reward them when things go well and do not penalise them when something goes wrong. Instead, work on improving the system and set in place processes that continue to embrace the common purpose for delivering excellent customer experiences.
One way to measure your performance is to use definitive metrics to capture customer feedback. This could be done through a post-trip survey or via reviews on TripAdvisor.
Finally, measure customer experience to solid financial returns.
"Build an explicit link to value creation by defining the outcomes that really matter, analysing historical performance of satisfied and dissatisfied customers, and focusing on customer satisfaction issues with the highest payouts. This requires discipline and patience, but the result will be early wins that will build confidence within the organisation and momentum to innovate further." - McKinsey Quarterly
Here are some practical tips from our Customer Success Team
Ask any TrekkSoft customer what they love most about TrekkSoft and they will never fail to mention our incredible Customer Success Team. So, I've decided to ask our team for practical tips about how they deliver excellent experiences time and time again.
From Stefani de Matos, Senior Account Manager:
1. Be transparent, honest and upfront. Set expectations straight with your customers so that they know what to expect and reduce uncertainty. If you make a mistake, own up and apologise for it.
2. Understand that you're taking people's money in exchange for a service so you have to make sure your service is worth every penny.
3. They're more than customers, they have a life too.
Our customers are tour guides who have a life of their own. They are often working hard and leading tours in the day, while dealing with admin and building their business at night. I've had countless Skype calls with customers in their homes, sometimes with their babies too.
- Stefani de Matos
From Stephen Cronly, Head of Tech Support:
4. Put smiley faces in your emails. It makes every interaction a more lively, pleasant and enjoyable one.
5. Building relationships with your customers is key to keeping them. Ask them about their day and get to know them to win their trust. Without trust, there's simply no relationship.
From Tiina Kivelä, Account Manager:
6. Listen to what your customers have to say, both the good and bad things about your service. That's the only way we can improve our service.
7. Understand that whenever you deal with a customer, you become the face of the company. People associate the company with you and it is your responsibility to stick to the values of your company.
What other tips do you have to create incredible customer experiences? Let us know in the comments below.
Written by Nicole Kow
Having graduated from the UK, Nicole travelled around Europe before joining TrekkSoft's marketing team. She is now based in KL and regularly blogs about her travels at Next Train Out.