What makes the tourism sector so good at delivering customer satisfaction?

15th Oct 2014

Customer satisfaction remains strong in the tourism sector, according to the Institute of Customer Service (ICS).

Analysing the results of its UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI), the ICS revealed that the sector was in the middle of a renaissance period, despite overall cross-industry satisfaction levels being at their lowest ebb for four years.

The tourism sector’s UKCSI score fell by 0.2 points, compared to a 0.8 drop across all sectors. However, the ICS singled the industry out for praise, with organisations including Center Parcs, P&O Cruises and Premier Inn achieving massive gains in customer satisfaction score over the last 12 months.

“Tourism faces a unique set of challenges,” says Jo Causon, CEO of the Institute of Customer Service.

“Customer satisfaction with a holiday for example incorporates the whole experience from leaving my front door to returning after my break. If I am delayed during my journey, have a bad experience at the airport, have a problem with a connection or the accommodation it will reflect on each of the other elements. 

“A problem which may appear to be unconnected to the organisation may be seen by the customer as part of the same thing. If a complaint is to be resolved successfully it has to happen almost immediately if it is not to impact negatively on the overall experience.

“As a result, organisations in this sector must be adept at handling problems quickly and successfully, which is reflected in the impressive performance in the UKCSI.”

The 2008-2013 double-dip recession delivered a major financial strain for the tourism sector, with 18% fewer people holidaying abroad in 2013 compared with before the downturn, and the number of trips taken by Britons overseas declining by 12.6 million, from 69.4 million to 56.8 million between 2007 and 2011.    

However, many organisations in the sector were able to enhance their customer service offerings during the period, in order to differentiate in more competitive markets.

P&O Cruises, for example, has been acclaimed for its recent advances in using consumer data to enhance cross-channel experience, while Premier Inn’s customer service as a low-cost hotel provider has been well documented.     

Social media continues to cause headaches for the sector, however:  Social is used more often in tourism to report a problem than in any other sector, with a “high propensity” rate but also a high problem resolution rate, according to the ICS.  

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