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Getting to grips with customer service means predicting the issues and questions guests may have at every stage of their interaction with you. Rather than reacting to situations as they occur, first, you must sit down and consider the customer service journey. Because communicating and building relationships with customers is not something that should only be done before the tour, it should be considered at every stage. This may sound like more work than you signed up for, but there are plenty of tools that can help you automate small actions that will make a difference to your customer’s experience.

We’ll explore how you can assess your customer’s needs, how your customer service policy can grow with your business, and what parts of the customer service can be automated to save you and your team time. Technology plays an important role in streamlining such processes in your business and we’ll offer our top tips on how to get software savvy.

Map Your Customer Journey

Mapping out your customer’s journey is the best way to analyse what improvements need to be made in your business. This map shows how the customer will interact with your brand from the moment they first encounter it to after their experience is over. Breaking down the process(opens in a new tab) into steps makes it easier not only to assess the pros and cons of each stage but also to see what overall changes need to be made. For example, are there recurring issues at every stage which are negatively impacting the guest’s experience?

Analyse guests’ needs by taking note of what questions they ask at each stage and keep track of the questions that keep coming up and what frustrations guests have when they contact you. Look at your analytics and study user behaviour on your website, what route do they take, where do they spend more time, and what page are they on when they leave the site.

Before the Tour

Before the customer has decided to take the tour there are various stages to consider. First impressions are key and this doesn’t mean the first time you speak to them, it’s the first time they interact with your brand. This could be on social media, on a webinar, or on your website. Do all your online platforms convey the image of a professional brand(opens in a new tab) that customers will trust enough to invest money in? Having a professional-looking website that links to all your social media platforms is a great place to start (opens in a new tab)when building a brand image.

Answer Guests’ Questions

Next, the content on your website should preempt the information(opens in a new tab) that guests will want to know before booking a tour. Whether that’s covering the price, meeting point, useful information, or including FAQs on the tour page, the less the customer needs to ask you, the more you show how well you understand their needs.

Response Times

However well you write your content and anticipate queries, some guests prefer to gain trust by speaking with the tour operator before booking. Whether they’re asking for recommendations or discussing personal requirements, to ensure a great customer experience you’ll need to respond quickly to emails. Though this may sound basic, many people get it wrong and when it’s done properly it builds a strong foundation for a great relationship and an ever-precious guest review. We can see the positive effects of a great customer service system in the reviews of Maldives tour operator Secret Paradise. Their TripAdvisor(opens in a new tab) is brimming with 5-star reviews praising the team’s thoughtfulness in recommending tours and going above and beyond to ensure their guests are comfortable from the moment they arrive to the moment they leave.

Communicating through online platforms doesn’t need to be on the pretext of answering guests questions. In fact, building rapport with your customers on the phone, via email, or most likely on social media is a great way to build loyalty and keep your brand at the forefront of people’s minds. This could take the form of responding to comments, liking posts, or producing content that will attract your potential customers.

It’s the Small Things that Count

Small things such as setting up a day before reminder either through the booking software or email automation show guests how prepared you are and also decreases no-show rates(opens in a new tab). Another option to exceed your guest’s expectations is to include a bonus resource in the confirmation email. Downloadable content(opens in a new tab) such as an illustrated tour map or suggested packing list helps your guests prepare.

On The Tour

We’ve talked a lot about the components that make a great tour and an outstanding guide(opens in a new tab). Here are a couple of key points that will help you go above and beyond the call of duty.

  1. Make guests feel like individuals. If guides reel off their narration as though it was a script, guests are not going to feel like the guide is making any effort. When it seems as though the tour leader is going above and beyond, guests are far more likely to leave a good review and recommend the tour to others.
  2. Linking on from the previous point, reading the room and adapting to your groups’ needs and interests is almost guaranteed to give your customers a positive and memorable experience. In this article(opens in a new tab), Nikki Padilla Rivera gives a great example of a tour guide adapting to the interests of the guests and showing emotional intelligence and confidence by being flexible with the topic.
  3. As well as adapting to your guests’ needs, being able to quickly adapt to changing situations (opens in a new tab)is a great way to show customers how professional your business is and why it’s worth taking a tour with you again. We’ve seen this most notably with maintaining a high level of customer service during the pandemic(opens in a new tab).

After the Tour

Customer service after the tour has finished is one of the most neglected stages of the process. This stage can also be the easiest as you can take advantage of email automation.

Follow up emails

Follow up emails are a special touch that can distinguish you from your competitors. Sending a thank-you note shows appreciation for your customer and their trust in you and increases the chances of their return. A follow-up email is also a great opportunity to ask for feedback. Testimonials are key to a business’s success these days, in fact Hubspot says, “55%(opens in a new tab) of consumers no longer feel they can trust companies, and 79%(opens in a new tab) of shoppers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.”  Lastly, use your post-tour emails to encourage return visits. We’ve written about the importance of customer loyalty(opens in a new tab) and the return visitor for growth, so why not include a discount on a second tour? This small gesture will encourage guests to return with friends and spread the word.

Moreover, the follow-up emails can all be set up through booking software or automated emails, meaning you can create a personal touch without spending time on fashioning individual responses.

Customer service and guest experience are key components to the success of your tour business. It’s a great way to fine-tune your processes and help you stand out from competitors. By creating a process where you can interpret guests’ questions and frustrations into business improvements, you give your business room to grow. After analysing customer behaviour once, you will become more aware of possible adjustments you can make in the future. What’s more, the use of automation modernises your business and gives you time to focus on exploring new ideas.

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