Chapter 9. Customer Service
9.1 Customer Experience
While there are many other factors that contribute to the success of a tourism business, one of the easiest to control is customer service levels.
Many of BC’s tourism operations have mastered high and consistent customer service levels. Why and how are they able to do this? What are the characteristics of exceptional customer service and the benefits to the business and the employees? How does technology apply to customer service and how is it constantly evolving?
This chapter will answer these questions as we explore the fundamentals of customer service in the context of a competitive global tourism environment. We will interview experienced tourism professionals, as well study the success of BC’s own customer service program, SuperHost, which has been training BC hospitality professionals for over 35 years.
We will be introducing concepts such as Total Quality (TQ), Net Promoter score and Customer lifetime value (CLV) used to measure customer service impact.
Customer service delivery and experience in today’s economy is becoming increasingly significant owing to change in demographics and psychographics. Words such as “authenticity”, “unique,” “one of a kind,” and “memorable” are being widely used by BC hospitality and tourism businesses to describe their customer experience.
Experience in the hospitality and tourism industry is a word that has been defined by various authors since 1982 until now. In the published article from Godovykh & Tasci (2020), the literature review explores the definition of the word “experience” spanning across various periods of time (Table 9.1).
|Authors||Defined “Experience” as|
|Holbrook and Hirschman (1982, p. 132)||“a steady flow of fantasies, feelings, and fun”|
|Pine and Gilmore (1998, p. 99)||“…are inherently personal, existing only in the mind of an individual who has been engaged on an emotional, physical, intellectual, or even spiritual level”|
|Prahalad and Ramaswamy (2004, p. 8)||“an environment in which consumers can have active dialogue and co-construct personalized experiences”|
|Gentile, Spiller, & Noci (2007, p. 397)||“experience originates from a set of interactions between a customer and a product, a company, or part of its organization, which provoke a reaction”|
|Bagdare and Jain (2013, p. 792)||“the sum total of cognitive, emotional, sensorial, and behavioral responses produced….”|
|Godovykh and Tasci (2020, p. 8)||“the totality of cognitive, affective, sensory, and conative responses, on a spectrum of negative to positive, evoked by all stimuli encountered in pre, during, and post phases of consumption affected by situational and brand-related factors filtered through personal differences of consumers, eventually resulting in differential outcomes related to consumers and brands”|
The above word “experience” has seen an evolution in terms of its description where now this is further expanded across the customer journey through various interactions. In the next section, Ben Day sheds some light on what customer service is and how critical it is to the industry.
Industry Conversation: Ben Day, Director of Sales and Marketing, Blackcomb Springs Suites by Clique
What makes customer service exceptional in the hospitality and tourism, from a provider point of view and a customer point of view?
“Exceptional service is most often delivered by people who care. Poor service from a poorly trained staff member is made much worse if the guest doesn’t feel like the employee cares.
Team members who care start by paying attention to what the guest needs and taking the time to think of ways to go above and beyond. From a customer point of view the next most important thing is for the person providing the service to be well trained and know what they are doing.
From a provider viewpoint hiring the right team members who like to help others and take the time to listen is critical. The next big step is to provide extensive training so that team members are comfortable to help in every situation and empowered to think out of the box and come up with solutions on the spot.”