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!

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Word of Mouth – Get them to talk about you

Did you know that, according to referralcandy.com, customers attained through word-of-mouth spend 200% more than the typical customer? They also make double the referrals than your usual client.

Mark Zuckerberg, chairman, chief executive and co-founder of Facebook, said:

“People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.”

This is why review platforms, like TripAdvisor, are doing so well in the tourism and hospitality industry: People influence people. Before making any purchases, customers search for reviews and referrals related to products and services they are interested in, in order to make a calculated decision on what to purchase.

Word of Mouth

Word of Mouth

Customers trust those suggesting certain products and services, as they know that no one will put their name on the line for a brand that won’t live up to the anticipated standards.

Referring customers may dub a hotel’s check-out process one of the most important touch points of the customer’s experience. A restaurant’s work is not necessarily done after the customer has paid the bill. Yes, post-purchase experiences can determine a customer’s brand preference just as much as any other touch point in the customer journey, encouraging or discouraging word-of-mouth marketing.

The question is: What is it that makes customers want to talk about your brand?

Word-of-mouth kicks in…

  • When a customer experiences something way beyond what was expected.
  • When the customer was impressed by a physical, non-verbal statement. It could be a unique architectural feature, a kinetic or educational experience or an act of generosity, like offering free dessert to buying customers. Like entrepreneur.com puts it: “Flour, butter and sugar are cheap advertising.” In comparison to all the other advertising options out there, I agree. Find something within your brand that sets you apart from the rest, even if it costs you a little extra flour, butter and sugar each month. Use it to your advantage.
  • When you prepare and budget to deliver a service that generates word-of-mouth. Sometimes we need to sacrifice one thing in order to gain another, i.e. Expanding your restaurant with a unique children’s playground might just get your customers talking.
  • When you trust and allow your customers to deliver the news about your brand to their friends. They won’t repeat what you say in your advertisements – give them the opportunity to do the marketing for you.
  • When it is something interesting to share with friends. There has to be a reason customers want to talk about your destination, isn’t there?
  • When it is easy. You need to help word-of-mouth along. Make it a simple, easy-to-share message – anything longer than a sentence is too long. Don’t just stick the message to a brochure or your website – make it portable with things like emails and social media.
  • When you make customers happy. Content customers are supreme promoters, so delight them, excite them and make them want to tell a friend.
  • When customers trust and respect you. Always be honourable and entwine ethics into what you do. Be good to your customers and satisfy their needs. Customers won’t talk about a company that might embarrass them by not living up to what others say about the brand.

Whether we like it or not, word-of-mouth is here to stay. As people, we want to have conversations and we want to share in each other’s joy. It’s part of our being. So get your ducks in a row, put on your brainstorming caps and create opportunities for customers to talk about you!

Journey Mapping Workshop

It’s not always easy to know what your customer expects, which means you are not always able to provide them with the best possible service. If you knew what they might need or expect within the next few minutes, you’d be able to assist them without them having to request assistance.
Travelling Mystery Guest invites you to attend the upcoming Customer Journey Mapping Workshop on 3 June 2015 at Eagle’s View Guest House and Conference Centre, Roodepoort. Here you will be able to create your own customer journey map, identify different types of customers and their possible expectations. We’ll get into your customer’s shoes, put on our thinking caps and jot down the various touch points where you can “wow” your customers.

Journey Mapping Workshop - 3 June 2015

Journey Mapping Workshop – 3 June 2015

Journey mapping helps you to identify “touch points” with the customer where you have the opportunity to “wow” them. A few of these touch points include engagement on social media, guests’ arrival at the hotel’s security gate, guests’ checking in process at reception and many more. These touch points can also differ from customer to customer. A business man’s expectation during the check-in process might be for it to be as quick as possible, where a family on holiday might expect welcome drinks and welcome kits for kids on their arrival.
For more information, contact Renate de Villiers on 082 336 1562 / enquire@travellingmystery.co.za
Book now by completing the form HERE or pop Renate an email.

Upcoming Travelling Mystery Workshops

TMG Workshops for April

TMG Workshops for April

With April slowly, but surely approaching, Renate is planning some really fun, interactive workshops for you and your staff. Here are the topics to look forward to in April:

1.       Creating your own hotel wheel

In this workshop you will learn how to identify the different touch points between hotel staff and guests. It is ideal for managers and lower level employees as you will be able to understand the complete customer journey and the different areas of interaction where you have an opportunity to engage and impress. Bring pencils, paper and creativity and let’s roll out the hotel wheel!

2.       Creating your own customer journey map

In addition to the hotel wheel, we also learn a bit more about the customer’s journey. We identify different target markets and their different touch points. We also identify areas which might need some attention within the customer’s journey, and some advantages and opportunities we might have missed in between. This is a great way to review your customer service delivery and current engagement with guests. The workshop will assist you to take a look at things from another angle – put your thinking caps on and let’s think outside the box for a while.

3.       What are the customer service issues in SA’s Hospitality Industry?

Take a look at the different challenges faced in South African hospitality with regards to customer service. Renate gives you an outline of Travelling Mystery Guest‘s observations and experiences, after which some interactive brainstorming and discussions will guide you to ideas and solutions to overcome some of the customer service challenges you face within your hotel, guesthouse or restaurant.

4.       How to increase customer service in South Africa

This is a follow up on the workshop above, looking at case studies and research done on the customer service challenges faced and considering possible solutions and the outcomes thereof. This workshop will also give you some tools to use with regards to staff management and training, as well as establishing a feeling of loyalty and trust among all staff members within your hotel, guesthouse or restaurant structure.

Remember that Travelling Mystery has made it easy for you by presenting these workshops at your establishment. For bookings, contact Renate on 082 336 1562 / enquire@travellingmystery.co.za.

10 Steps to creating your own customer journey map

Do you sit with information about your guests, but you don’t know how to use it? Do you sometimes wonder which areas of service you should focus on? We’ve got the solution for you!

Customer Journey Mapping

Customer Journey Mapping

A customer journey map is a tool which will assist you in identifying what your customers experience at your establishment, what their likes and dislikes are, and which areas of customer service you should focus on. It’s something that any company in the tourism and hospitality industry should spend time on, as that is the one thing that will help you to get to know your customers better. You will be able to identify the different touch points between the guest and your establishment and the guest’s experience at each touch point. The ideal get-to-know-your-guest tool.

Here are ten easy steps put together by Travelling Mystery Guest to assist you in creating your own basic customer journey map. This map can become quite intense if you really put some effort into it – the steps below are just some guidelines to put you on the road: (PS – we also offer workshops on this topic. Contact us for bookings.)

  1. Before you start jotting down the map, you need to have a meeting with all relevant stakeholders of the business in order to decide which questions need answering, which business decisions you’re facing and what you hope to learn from the map. Then decide on a framework to work from. With the different touch points as a framework, you will be able to identify all the different areas where guests interact with your establishment during their customer journey.
  2. Gather intelligence. This part is the difficult part, as this is where you need to gather as much data as possible in light of your objectives. If you want to know which social media pages your guests prefer to use, you will need to do online research, interview your guests, delve through previous surveys that has been done and observe followers online. It is also here where you need to identify your different target markets, i.e. business tourists, leisure tourists, kids, etc.
  3. Put the information that you’ve gathered in a visual form. Remember: You need to visualize it from your guest’s perspective – focus on what the guest is doing, thinking, feeling, interpreting and buying. These will eventually form your touch points on the map.
  4. List general patterns that are relevant to the specific guests’ journey through your establishment (i.e. they mostly book via a travel agent, they mainly eat breakfast very early in the morning, they always ask for two point plugs, they usually book single rooms, etc.)
  5. Now identify additional journeys that represent other types of guests (i.e. the journey of a business guest and the journey of a leisure guest) and repeat steps 1 – 5.
  6. Identify areas where the customer journey between different target markets starts to differ. Also identify the “road blocks” that impact different customer groups in different ways.
  7. Add moments of truth (detailed interactions) at each touch point. For example: At the touch point, Company Website, the moment of truth would be that the website needs to provide ample information, needs to lead customers to additional pages like Facebook and the blog, needs to be easy to navigate, etc. These are things a guest would expect from your website. It will shape their perception of your establishment and perhaps even convince them that they need your service.
  8. From the moments of truth, you need to identify the areas where your company is not living up to standard. Spot the areas where you see opportunities for better engagement with your guests.
  9. After looking at the current customer journeys of your different target markets, now also create a map of the ideal customer journey. Ask yourself where the opportunities lie to exceed your guests’ expectations.
  10. Socialize your map with the relevant stakeholders. Consider the differences between the current customer journey map of your establishment and the ideal customer journey map and from there develop a road map for improvement. Be sure to include all relevant departments of the business in this map discussion in order to ensure that everyone understands the mission: exceeding customer needs.

Thanks to my sources: Antje Helfrich and Marc Steiner from Openview.