At Travel Uni we always think of a retail travel agent as being on the frontline. That word ‘frontline’ of course suggests you are in some kind of a battle with your customers and we know sometimes (often?) it feels that way. It shouldn’t be of course and below we give you some customer service tips to put you and your customer on the same side.
- Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. We are all someone’s customer at various times throughout any one day and so it really shouldn’t be too hard to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Have they been shopping and tired? Do they have children in tow and exhausted? Are they planning a honeymoon and elated? Understanding how your customer is feeling is key to establishing rapport, an emotional connection.
- Be authentically friendly. Greet your customers with a genuine smile – they’ll spot a fake one – and that applies equally when answering the telephone. Yes, a smile can be heard.
- Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Special offers in the shop window can be great for attracting customers through the door. But if they don’t actually exist, or the terms and conditions so restrictive that very few people can qualify, there is nothing more frustrating for everyone – and that includes you. Don’t do it. Your reputation will suffer.
- Stay positive. As you search for the customer’s hundredth holiday combination keep smiling and stay positive. (For a tip on how to get your customer focussed and avoid multiple different searches see Questions are the Answer). We all know that dealing with the general public is not easy and evolving a thick skin is one of the first things you have to do. And for you to survive in sales it is essential you adopt a positive mental attitude and maintain focus on helping the customer to a successful outcome.
- Use age-appropriate greetings and language. Older customers might not appreciate being referred to as “guys” and a destination might be “dope” for you but it is not necessarily a description they will recognise – not in this context anyway.
- Be proactive and ask how you may be of service.
- Focus on your customer. Don’t turn away, walk away, start to make a phone call, or duck beneath your desk as a customer approaches. The live customer standing in front of you takes precedence over someone who calls on the phone.
- Never judge a book by its cover. All customers deserve attention regardless of their age or appearance.
- Never eat at your desk.
- Save personal calls for your break and out of earshot of customers.
- Never say “I don’t know” unless you add to it, “but I will find out for you.”
- Don’t let chatty customers monopolise your time if others are waiting. A tricky one this since you want to bond with your customers and maintain a relationship. However most people will understand if you excuse yourself to deal with other customers who are obviously waiting.
- Never talk about a customer behind their back and especially in front of other customers. Not only do you have potential privacy issues but it is also bad manners. And those other customers will wonder what you say about them when they leave.
- Be discrete if a customer’s credit card is declined by asking if there is another method of payment he or she would like to use.
- Create a remarkable customer experience. Your customers could be shopping online — but they’re not. They’ve gone to the trouble of coming to your shop, so the least you could do is make that effort worthwhile for them. Organise your shop layout in a way that draws customers in and makes them feel comfortable. Use colour, decoration and furnishings to create a welcoming environment.
- Use the customer’s name. Find out how they like to be addressed – some people might be formal with a Mr or Mrs while others (probably most) will give you their first name. Do not over-use their name but drop it in to the conversation where it feels comfortable. The sound of a person’s name is the sweetest sound to them. Naturally make sure your customer has your name and the name of any colleagues you might need to refer them to. This will help the creation of rapport and an emotional connection.
- Keep Yourself Up to Date. If there are new products on the market make sure you know about them. If there is a blockbuster series on Netflix filmed in a stunning location make sure you know about it. You need to be at least in synch with your customers and at best ahead of them. You want to be their go-to-person for holiday bookings and inspiration. (see Know what’s what)
- Use the magic phrase “thank you”. Of course, you want to thank customers when they complete a holiday booking. But that’s not the only time you should be saying “thank you.” Show your appreciation to everyone who visits your shop, whether they make a purchase or not. For those customers who make a big booking, you could also mail them (yes, through the post) a ‘thank you’ card. You will stand out and they will remember the gesture. After all how many ‘thank you’ cards do you think they receive through the post in any one year. Our guess is none – ‘til now.
- Keep smiling. Follow tip number 2 to the end and say goodbye with a smile – whether the customer booked or not.
Not only will these tips help you secure more bookings but they will also help you have a good day.
Now tell us what you think of these tips and share your own tips for better customer service on our Facebook page.