The Customer Journey

It’s all about touch points.

Subconsciously we all rate our experiences all the time. Whether it is the drive to a destination, the arrival, an activity at a destination or even the departure, there’s always a score attached to it. Not necessarily a mark out of ten, but definitely a “yes, I’ll do that again”, “next time I’ll do it differently” or “no, I’ll never do that again!”

This is exactly what goes on in customers’ minds during visits to a specific destination. Every part of a customer’s experience adds to the overall assessment of their customer journey. The customer journey consists of different touch points where the destination has the opportunity to either impress or disappoint. These touch points often interlink with one another, like for example:

During the arrival phase of a customer’s journey, the ideal would be to be greeted and guided to the parking and reception by the security guard at the gate. This would be the first touch point between the customer and the destination (not omitting the previous post-stay touch points, i.e. visiting the destination’s website to find directions). If the security guard failed to live up to what the customers expected when arriving, this touch point would have been a negative experience. This is only one touch point within the customer’s journey, hence you understand how many opportunities a customer journey consists of for the destination to impress and exceed customers’ expectations.

Customer Journey Mapping

Customer Journey Mapping

The journey continues throughout the customer’s visit, whether it is a lunch at the restaurant or a stay over. The customer journey also does not end when the guest departs. Follow up phone calls, email communications, social media posts, likes and shares and Tripadvisor reviews all form part of the post-stay phase. This is why it has become very important for destinations to be just as active and pro-active online as their customers. The customer journey is not just face-to-face experiences anymore. It now includes telecommunication, written (and e-mail) communication, verbal and non-verbal communication, social-, digital and print media (marketing) and more. Therefore, it is very important for different departments to understand the customer journey, as these departments tend to interlink with each other on a regular, minute-to-minute basis. Reservations, sales and marketing work hand-in-hand to provide customers with the best possible deals. Front office, reception and security work together in ensuring that the check-in process runs smoothly. Marketing and food and beverage work together closely when it comes to the menus, specials, etc. Understanding the customer journey assists the different departments in helping each other to exceed customers’ expectations and to eliminate gaps within the customer journey where touch points are exposed to possible disappointment.

Travelling Mystery Guest offers workshops on customer journey mapping. Mapping out your destination’s customer journey will assist staff to understand their roles in the different touch points and to roll out the process on paper to see what a customer expects at certain times and places within the customer journey. No destination’s map will ever look the same, as not one destination offers the same experiences. Different customers will also lead to different customer journey maps, as no customer has the same expectations. Hence, during Travelling Mystery Guest’s workshops, the destination’s main type of customer is used as a prototype.

If you would like to learn more about your destination’s customer journeys, contact Travelling Mystery Guest today!

Challenges in the hospitality industry

Any industry has its ups and downs and so the hospitality industry in South Africa also has certain challenges to face.

Hospitality Solutions

Hospitality Solutions

Travelling Mystery Guest has been observing a few challenges which need to be addressed – let us know if you agree and what your thoughts are:

  • Economy: South Africa’s economy has taken a knock and local business has decreased tremendously. But, this gives us the opportunity to look at other possibilities like targeting international tourists. Have you given that any thought yet?
  • Working hours: The hospitality industry has always been known as one of the industries with long and irregular working hours. Have you ever given thought as to how we can change this or work around it? I know of one restaurant that has decided to reduce is operating hours to ensure that its staff get enough personal time. This ensures that they have more energy and loyalty to the company, allowing for great customer service. Yes, it’s less time to make money, but trust me, with such loyalty from staff you can move mountains!
  • Shift work: Staff working different shifts makes it difficult to arrange staff meetings, etcetera. How do you work around this?
  • Transport for staff: Most staff working in South Africa’s hospitality sector use public transport. Do you as a hotel, guesthouse or restaurant provide staff with additional options like on-site accommodation, transport allowances or in-house transport options?
  • In-house training: Many of the smaller hospitality establishments and even some of the larger companies neglect to pay attention to training their staff on a regular basis. Training not only forms part of basic customer service, it also provides staff with the feeling of belonging and self actualization. If you, as a manager, can’t find the time to train staff, get someone to do it for you. Travelling Mystery Guest offers customized workshops and presents the workshops at your establishment. No effort, no need to organize additional staff, no need to plan transport – we come to you.
  • Bad customer service: Is this due to the lack of training or is it just attitude? Either way – something’s got to be done. If it’s a lack of training, make a plan and train your staff. Lack of attitude – if you hired them, you have the right to fire them. Make this clear and don’t just say it – act on it.
  • The lack of loyalty: I’ve noticed that many people are not in the hospitality industry for the love of it, but merely because that’s the only job they could get. We need to find a way to make our staff love the industry. We will never be able to exceed customers’ expectations if our staff don’t have the right attitude. Management needs to find a way to make staff love what they do. Get to know your staff, place them in the right departments, train them on things they are interested in and build on their strengths rather than focusing on what they can’t do right.

Do you have any comments or ideas? Would you like to add other challenges to the above? Feel free to comment below.

Travelling Mystery Guest is planning a brainstorming session on the challenges in South Africa’s hospitality industry and solutions to consider for the end of May. Let us know if you would be interested in attending, and we’ll add you to our contact list for further details. Contact Renate on 082 336 1562 or enquire@travellingmystery.co.za. Follow the hashtag #HospitalitySolutionsSA and let’s encourage South Africa to overcome the challenges we face in the hospitality industry.