Written By: Craig Satterfield, The Cruise Scholar
In the long run there is only one way for your business to grow and be profitable. That is to take care of your customers. When you take care of them they in turn will take care of you! How do we insure customer satisfaction when we are the middleman between our customer and the tour operator, cruise line, airline or hotel?
Your success is due largely to your reputation as a service oriented person. Your strong commitment to serving your customer should be well demonstrated consistently throughout your sales process by taking a careful approach to every element of what you are doing for your client. What makes you unique from an internet site is that you know and understand the difference between what clients really need by understand the little things, the things that can make or break your relationship with your customer. Your commit to provide superior service is the main reason for your success. After all, the customer may not always be right but he is the customer and he has the right to have superior service.
Things can go wrong occasionally. Since we don’t really have total control of what happens after your client departs on their trip, we can be on the hot seat if something goes wrong. We always pray that all elements of the trip will go smoothly and that those performing services for our clients have the same commitment to excellence as we do.
Your customer’s regular relationship with you is a big deciding factor in their satisfaction. Think of when things have gone wrong and they come back to tell you about it. Most of the time they preface it by saying that they know it is not your fault, but they do want to tell you all the details! When they know your commitment is total, then they give you their total trust.
So how can we insure we are caring for our customers enough? Here are some simple tips:
Always listen closely, be involved in the conversation, understand and show respect for your customers’ needs and concerns.
Most of the time your transactions with a customer are totally successful. Remember to reinforce what you do and why you do it. It is important that you demonstrate your care and respect.
When and if a problem occurs, focus immediately on the most expeditious matter to resolve it. Take ownership of the problem as well as the resolution. Clients know that things can happen, and how you take them on and solve them to the best of your ability makes you shine.
Be sure to show confidence in your ability and commitment to set things right. If they think you are in the weeds and give the impression that you have no idea what to do or how to fix their concerns does not show that you do care. You might not know the answer to what needs to be done right then and there but you do have the ability to get assistance. Keep positive about the outcome but don’t promise something you may not be able to deliver.
Control the problem by focusing on exactly what the customer needs rather than just the situation itself.
If you find that you are continuing to get into the same situation and find that there is a pattern with a particular vendor or service provider find a way to work around it permanently.
I know I get frustrated and nervous about things we might not understand or why something happened when it was not supposed to. Be sure you take control of your attitude as well. Find out why and what causes these problems and find a way to make it work for you. Taking care of your own attitude is the one of the first steps in taking care of your customer’s needs.
Remember customer service and customer satisfaction are very different. Have you ever had a problem with a company but the efforts of your contact at that company were so committed that you felt total satisfaction even though it might not have come out the way you wanted it to? You can do the same with your customers. The fact that you show that you care can turn out to be the most important aspect.
Customer satisfaction is the most important reason for them to return to you for future travel arrangements. Loyalty is a very valuable trait in a client these days. Have you ever asked your clients on a scale of 1 to 10 how they felt about your customer satisfaction? This is a good way to find out if they are planning to return to you and offer you referrals. Consider those that have given you a seven or above a satisfied customer. Those that offer a nine or ten are those that will shout your praises to everybody they know.
Scores of six or under may be an indication of customer dis-satisfaction and they are a risk of not booking with you again. It is important to find out why their satisfaction is low and try to save them as customers. Remember we are selling good customer satisfaction from the vendors we recommend and a bad experience with a vendor can easily rub off on you without your knowledge. It pays to find out more.
We are in a very competitive business and customer satisfaction seems to be the key to why people come back to you or work with you in the first place. Use yourself as an example. Imagine two companies that sell exactly the same thing. Which would you buy from and why? If a friend recommends one of those businesses that would probably sway you. They most likely had good customer satisfaction. This is the way to keep your finger on the pulse of your own good customers.
With tracking customer satisfaction, you can add new processes if you need to. This is a great way to increase the overall quality of your client’s satisfaction scores. We all want to exceed our customer expectations and wow them whenever we can. Check clients every six months or so to see that you’re caring is continuing to satisfy.
Let the numbers speak for themselves! They say that a totally satisfied customer contributes more than two and a half times more revenue than a somewhat satisfied customer. And listen to this, a totally satisfied customer contributes over 14 times more revenue than a dissatisfied customer. Think of this every time you are looking at your good customer retention.
Unfortunately an unhappy customer tells between 9-15 people about their experience. About 13% of unhappy customers tell over 20 people about their experience and that is if they don’t post in on line.
Another alarming statistic: 96% of unsatisfied customers don’t even complain. They walk.
That is way too much negative word of mouth!
One of the most known statistics out there is that it costs six times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. Customers cost money to acquire. You spend a lot of time and effort getting the attention of potential clients, turning them into leads and then into clients.
Maybe it is time to look at the idea of spending some time on developing customer retention. Some of them you can do for free:
Use blogs to educate regular and potential customers. Using social media cements the fact that you care and have things to offer.
Work out a planned email campaign to share information and keep in touch.
Share your own personal experiences whenever and wherever possible.
Use the previously mentioned customer satisfaction surveys and listen to what they say.
Remember your competition is really based upon customer satisfaction.
Here are a few more ideas to develop your customer satisfaction:
Treat your customers as if they were your boss. It is hard to argue with that one.
Try to impress your customers as if you want a pay raise. Hear that Mr. Bossman?
Go out of your way and be sure to thank your customers for their business. Think how many times that you purchase something and nobody really cares.
Remember their birthdays or anniversary. That makes people feel like they are part of your family. Those personal relationships are what set you apart from other travel companies.
Some say that customer satisfaction is really the new way to market and with some of these tips you can be well on your way to a high customer satisfaction reputation.