Booking can be a real exercise in trust for new customers. They’re handing over hard-earned money for a promise that you’ll give them a good experience — an experience that might not happen for months. From that perspective, it can seem like a lot to ask.
With that in mind, trust is one of the most valuable resources you can cultivate in your career as a tour and activities provider. Customers want to trust you. That’s why they pore over reviews and swamp you with questions — because until trust can be earned, it has to be built. Luckily, building trust doesn’t have to be an impossible challenge. When it comes to trust, a little customer service expertise can go a long way.
The easiest way to earn a customers’ trust is to be there when they need you.
- Be wherever your customers are. Email, phone, social media and messaging are all valid customer service channels.
- Monitor your channels. Set up alerts on your mobile devices so a customer’s message never goes unseen.
- Try to answer in a timely fashion, even off-season
- Consider using an email auto-reply so the customer knows you’re working on getting back to them.
Being available and responsive to a customer’s requests can really set you apart. Stats gathered by thinkJar’s Esteban Kolsky show exactly why that is. In a customer survey, Kolsky found that a whopping 55 percent of customer requests for service go unanswered if they’re made on social media. At the time of the survey, 72 percent of Facebook interactions were not addressed at any point.
Being available also means being willing to hear your customers out. Giving them a little time and attention can make all the difference.
Customer requests can’t always be resolved, but doing your best is always worthwhile. Take a moment to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. If you were in their situation, what sort of response would you hope for?
Understanding a customer’s needs will let you react with empathy, even when you can’t do what they want. Conversely, ignoring their perspective will leave them with an unsatisfying exchange — which may well harm their trust. That’s a problem.
When you can’t offer a speedy, positive resolution, consider how else you might keep a customer’s trust. A happy customer will tell some of their friends about you, but an unhappy customer will tell even more.
Building trust isn’t just about answering your customers’ requests. It’s also about anticipating their needs.
Take a look at your current customer service experience and consider how it could be improved.
- Do you get certain questions regularly? Offer a FAQ on your website with helpful answers.
- Are cancellations your biggest point of conflict? Consider offering ticket protection.
- Do guests often want to book outside your normal options? Perhaps custom group bookings are the answer.
- Are you struggling with a massive volume of straightforward questions? Could be time for a chatbot.
- Is it hard to answer questions when you’re always on the go? Wearable tech is one solution — or maybe it’s time to hire some help.
Your booking terms and cancellation policy tell a customer what they can expect, but for you, they should be the bare minimum. When you need to stick to a policy, that’s why it’s there. But when you can afford to be generous, you’ll find new ways of delighting your customers.
A “perceived contract” is a psychological concept that comes up in employment scenarios, but it also applies to customer service. A contract — like your booking terms and conditions — says one thing, but doing right by your customers sometimes requires doing another. Their perception or expectation is that you’ll do your best to serve them. Breaking that perceived contract can be seen as a betrayal, and it might cost you.
In a customer service context, the perceived contract is often that if something goes terribly wrong outside a customers’ control, you’ll understand. More than that, you’ll do what you can to help within the limits of your power. If a customer wants more than your policies allow, bending the rules maintains that contract, allowing you to build trust where you could easily damage it, instead.
Be the best you can be
When it comes to new customers, trust is at least fifty percent instinct. But here’s the good news: people can tell when you’re trying to do right by them. If you care about your customers, it will show — and they’ll be more likely to trust you in return.
We all need to put up sensible boundaries when it comes to customer service, because some people will never be satisfied. But when there’s a chance to win a customer’s trust, it’s often a chance worth taking.
No, you can’t please everyone all of the time. But as long as you’re trying, you’ll show customers that your company is worthy of their trust. That’s the first step to a long, profitable relationship, so why not give it a shot?