According to the Institute of Customer Service’s latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index there is some good news for the travel industry! Tour operators and travel agents are delivering a higher level of customer satisfaction compared to organisations in most other sectors of the economy. With an average score of 80.7 (out of 100), the sector is the third highest-scoring out of the 13 measured. Collectively it scores 2.6 points higher than the UK all-sector average, indicating that customers consider travel-focused organisations, on average, to be meeting expectations.
Customer satisfaction within the sector has also risen 0.5 points over the past year. Our evidence suggests that factors behind the increase are the way employees resolve complaints and the way they are easy to contact by phone. This is good to see but, given the increasingly competitive landscape and uncertainties ahead, it is now more important than ever for the travel industry to focus on the whole customer experience, not just the transactional elements.
We can see quite clearly that where a company fixes the issue at source, rather than simply reacting as problems occur – they start to increase trust and build longer-term relationships leading to long term sustainable success.
As we approach peak holiday season there is a huge opportunity for the sector to really make customers’ experiences count. The trend of people sharing their experience online will only grow, so the challenge and opportunity for the industry is to ensure that the whole experience – the search, purchase, experience and after-sale care – meets the expectations and leaves the memories we are looking to create.
One way – but by no means the only way – to achieve this is to develop a nuanced understanding of customers’ channel preferences and behaviour, integrating experience design, engaged people and technology to enable customers’ objectives and choices. There is also a growing expectation that organisations need to be proactive in ensuring that they are creating authentic and personalised customer experiences and safeguarding the interests and wellbeing of all their customers at every stage of the holiday process.
Ultimately it is clear that for the travel sector, this is a pivotal moment. It is time to be brave and drive the customer experience agenda harder to meet customers needs and remain competitive.
Jo Causon, CEO, Institute of Customer Service
To find out more about how your travel business can deliver excellent customer service, ABTA will be running another Delivering Customer Service Excellence seminar later this year in November. To book your place visit abta.com/events.
For specific, practical guidance around how to respond to complaints and improve your complaints handling strategy, ABTA will also be running a Complaints Handling Workshop on 10 July and an advanced level seminar, Advanced Complaints Management on the 28 June.