5 lessons for delivering a five-star customer service worthy of ‘lovemarks’

A new book on how to deliver an exceptional customer service may sound like common sense but in it there are some useful tips for travel brands

Since customer service is make or break in the travel space, we thought we’d pull out a few lessons from a new book: the third edition of Michael Heppell’s 5-Star Service: How to deliver exceptional customer service.

1.     Customer service starts at home

You’ll know the saying ‘charity starts at home’. Well it seems the same is true of customer service. If you have unhappy staff who are constantly complaining about your organisation or department, then chances are your customers will be complaining too.

2.     Never say: ‘we already do that’

That’s just an excuse not to do something and Heppell in his third chapter ‘Make them feel famous’ says this is just “claptrap” which is titled. The emphasis being on the word ‘feel’ rather than be. To do this, requires some brainstorming within your organisation and one useful suggestion is to start with some headings. First you could consider what you should do, then you move on to what you could do and finally end up with a list with heading ‘will do’. Another point to note is that in brainstorming negative comments should be avoided at all times! Every idea counts.

3.     Think creatively. Ask ‘what if’ questions

Five-star service doesn’t have to cost the earth. It is really just about creating a memorable experience for a customer. To do this you need to ask questions and in doing so forge an emotional connection with the customer. To get your creative juices flowing, Heppell offers some helpful tips that include to: think like a customer, brainstorm (but remember no negative comments), take tips from nature, encourage creativity in your team and ask ‘what if’ questions.

4.     Don’t make your problems your customer’s problem

‘The system is down, one of my employees didn’t turn up today, we’ve been very busy, our policy doesn’t allow it….’ these are all excuses that Heppell believes customers just don’t want to hear about. What customers want is for you to listen carefully, thank them for their feedback and then, most importantly, take action; an action that should have an emotional impact on your customer. For example, if their meal was awful, invite them back for another or throw in a free cocktail from the bar. Never forget that the customer is always right.

5.     Work on your lovemarks! Remember always that customer service can make or break your brand

One of the big themes in the travel industry is how to drive loyal guests. One of the ways to do this is to deliver outstanding customer service. But the key message from Heppell is that you have only succeeded in this if your service is so good that your customers want to remain friends with you. Citing Kevin Roberts the worldwide CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi the argument goes that ‘lovemarks’ are the new loyalty. The customers of brands that have achieved ‘lovemark’ status are not only loyal but will actively promote your company. Going back to the point of how internal processes matter, the brands that are more successful are those that care for people first and foremost.

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