Secrets to customer service excellence

Travel Talk

Customer Service for Hospitality and Tourism As travelers mature, they become more discerning about the accommodations they choose for their holidays. Comfortable beds, great views, spacious bathrooms, easy access, appropriate amenities and, above all, great customer service become paramount parameters for the perfect vacation.

The physical attributes of a hotel, restaurant or destination can be gauged, to some extent, from brochures and websites. But it is difficult to assess customer service standards from the Internet. However, there is help at hand. A new book has just been published which sheds light on where the best customer service is to be found in the tourism and hospitality industry.

Entitled Customer Service for Hospitality and Tourism, the book is co-authored by Dr Simon Hudson – a tourism professor and researcher – and his wife, Louise – a freelance travel journalist. After three decades of working within the tourism sector and traveling around the globe on research, their exploration of customer service offers some useful guidelines to help direct more exacting travelers to customer-centric hotels and tourism services.

Published by Goodfellow UK, the book also offers businesses all the ingredients for providing excellent customer service. “It’s actually not that complex,” says author Dr. Simon Hudson. “But few companies really get it right.” One of the problems, he says, is that many companies think they are providing good customer service, when, in actuality, their customers are saying otherwise. Hudson refers to a recent study that found that 80 percent of companies believed they deliver superior service to their customers, but only eight percent of their customers actually agreed! “Unfortunately, many organizations just don’t understand the significance of customer service, despite the exhaustive literature that has made the connection between service excellence, satisfaction and loyalty – and therefore profits,” Hudson explains. “Customer service training is often viewed as a cost rather than an investment, and even if companies recognize the importance of customer service, they don’t know how to deliver consistent, high quality customer service on an on-going basis.”

The book is easy to read and full of references to all the latest research from both academia and industry. Chapters cover diverse topics such as consumer trends, developing a service culture, managing service encounters, the importance of market research, building customer relationships, providing customer service through the servicescape, the impact of technology on customer service, the importance of service recovery, the financial and behavioural consequences of customer service, and promoting customer service internally and externally – as well as explaining what all these terms and service jargon actually mean!

Fascinating case studies collected from all over the world look at customer service in practice. You will learn how Walt Disney created an outstanding service culture based on his commitment to meticulous customer service training; how a British tour operator can charge $18,000 a week for a holiday because of his dedication to satisfying his customers’ needs; how the 70,000-strong cohort of volunteers was trained in the art of customer service for the London 2012 Olympic Games; and how an airport in Canada increased its customer satisfaction ratings with a comprehensive customer service training program. You will also discover how The Four Seasons has succeeded because of one Golden Rule – the simple idea that if you treat people well, the way you would like to be treated, they will do the same; how an Australian vineyard provides a personal touch to wow its customers; how a golf and safari resort in South Africa stays ahead of the ‘game’; how a wine lodge in Argentina plays on the senses to provide the ultimate customer experience; how organizations like Virgin Atlantic and Vail Resorts are leveraging social media to elevate customer service; and how one Russian tour operator provides the ultimate personal touch by inviting guests to a private dinner and tour of her home.

And, to cap it all, the last chapter of the book is a handbook that the tourism and hospitality industries can use to implement a generic customer service program.

An ideal gift for those “difficult customers” in your family, friends or colleagues, Customer Service for Hospitality and Tourism is published by Goodfellow in the UK, and is available everywhere at www.goodfellowpublishers.com.

For the golfers in your family, check out the Hudson’s book Golf Tourism.

To contact the authors, please email Dr Simon Hudson at shudson@hrsm.sc.edu.

 

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