31st Mar 2015
All indicators point to tough times ahead for package holiday providers despite recent results announcements showing profits are as forecast. While the economic weakness of the eurozone has led to prices falling by 2pc, research suggests that a focus on customer service can be the differentiating factor to help the travel industry maintain their margins and navigate these troubled waters.
Despite an overall fall in satisfaction across the UK, the Tourism industry has maintained its position as the third highest scoring sector in the UKCSI with a score of 79.4 (out of 100) and is still 3.4 points above the cross-sector average. It rated above the all sector average in every one of the 28 metrics of customer service used in this research.The sector score decreased at the same rate as the all-sector average, slower than both sectors in higher positions (Retail food and Retail non-food).
More importantly customers in this sector indicated they are happiest to pay more for a higher level of customer service.With a score of 82.9 the UK focused Centre Parcs is the top performing organisation in the tourism sector and equal 11th in the overall index. However the diversity of performance in the sector is striking. Ten organisations score below 80 points while three; Expedia, Butlins and Pontins have actually improved by more than one point.
Jo Causon, CEO of the Institute of Customer Service comments:
“The tourism sector is performing in line with the all-sector average with regard to satisfaction, but as the link between customer service and business performance becomes more and more evident, organisations in the tourism sector will be put under increasing pressure to collaborate to combat the consistent decline in customer satisfaction, where the total experience is reliant on the service of others within the chain.”
“In addition, organisations in this sector have another challenge as it has the highest percentage of customers, 30%, who are seeking excellent service and are prepared to pay for it. This gives organisations the opportunity to differentiate through a consistent approach to customer service which delivers not only the expected ‘norm’ but goes beyond expectations to encourage repeat purchase and recommendations.”
There is more positive news for this sector as the UKCSI results show that tourism organisations are not only better at preventing problems, with only 9% of customers experiencing a problem in the last three months, compared to the all-sector average of 13%. They are also better at dealing with those problems, as satisfaction with how complaints were handled rises to 6 out of 10 – higher than any other sector.
“In this period of economic recovery it is tempting for organisations to focus on short term objectives. That being said a concerted effort must to deliver improving levels of service to provide clear differentiation in a very competitive sector. Leaders of tourism organisations must hold on to this initiative, maintain focus and champion customer service, which will in turn, help to ensure the UK remains a leader in the delivery of excellent customer service.”
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The Institute of Customer Service is the professional body for customer service delivering tangible benefit to organisations and individuals so that our customers can improve their customers' experience and their own business performance. The Institute is a membership body with a community of over 400 organisational members - from the private, public and third sectors - and over 5,000 individual memberships.
For more information about the Institute of Customer Service go to www.instituteofcustomerservice.com