Understanding the Gaps

There are five gaps in the service quality gap model. For a business to be able to close these gaps and deliver excellent customer service, you first need to understand the gaps, what causes them and how to deal with them. Travelling Mystery Guest guides you through these five gaps:

  1. The customer gap: The gap between customer expectations and customer perceptions

Customer expectations are the things customers expect to receive and are influenced by factors such as lifestyle, personality, demographics, advertising and experience with similar products. Customer perceptions are based on the interaction of the customer with the product or service. (Touch points, as discussed in our Customer Journey Mapping workshop). In an ideal world, the customer’s expectation should be exactly the same as their perception. Although customer expectation is largely influenced by things you have no control over, one way to prevent this gap is to avoid false advertising. Do not advertise a service or product you can’t deliver, not only will the customer be disappointed that you can’t provide; they will also be angry that you misled them. Be sure to deliver what you promise.

2. The Knowledge Gap: The gap between consumer expectation and management perception

This gap is basically the difference between what the customer expected to receive and how the management thought they wanted it. Usually this is because companies are trying to meet the wrong needs. This can be solved by going back to the basic step of market research. Your company’s target market should be clearly defined and their needs should be researched extensively. Post-service-research must also be conducted. Management should ask:

“Were our predictions correct?”

“Did we satisfy our customer?”

“If needed, how must we change?”

Only the customer can answer this.

3. The policy gap: The gap between management perceptions and service quality       specification

According to Kasper et al, this gap reflects management’s incorrect translation of the service policy into rules and guidelines (standard operating procedures and training) for employees. A simple example would be that the kitchen staff is not allowed to use their cell phones in the kitchen area, but this rule is not clearly communicated and may result in bad customer service because of hygiene problems. This problem is very unnecessary and management should provide all rules, even if they seem self-explanatory.

4. The delivery gap: The gap between service quality specification and service delivery

This is basically bad employee performance. Management may know what the customers require, but if the employees (who work directly with the customers) are ill equipped to manage customersneeds, bad service comes to light. This is also an unnecessary gap that can be prevented by proper training, which should be implemented from the start. Bad service reflects poorly on management. Having good human resource policies is also very important for regulating your staff.

5. The communication gap: The gap between service delivery and external communications

A good example of this is false advertising. Never promise anything you can’t deliver. The prevention of this gap is solely the responsibility of the business. You are setting a high level of expectations for your business just to create customer disappointment all by yourself. Rather be efficient and subtle when advertising and exceed customers’ expectations. For example: Don’t advertise your pool as a ‘luxury swimming center with temperature control and amazing views’, rather say, we have indoor and outdoor swimming facilities, then provide a photo of both and be sure the pool is clean. Through this you are not setting the customer up for unrealistic expectations. 

Written by: Alicia Redelinghuys

Brainmates [online], also available from: brainmates.com (accessed 25/02/2017)

 

 

 

 

 

You’re Invited

Join us for breakfast at the Park Inn by Radisson Cape Town (Foreshore) for a Breakfast Briefing in collaboration with HVS Consulting and Guy Stehlik from BON Hotels.

We will be discussing the benefits of understanding your guest, considering the customer journey as part of the process of creating revenue.

Some more info on Travelling Mystery Guest‘s workshop on Customer Journey Mapping:

Catering for different ages

Travelling is not limited to age, anyone who wants to travel are free to do so. But different ages have different habits when travelling and different reasons for visiting certain places. Travelling Mystery Guest takes you through the decades to see what various age groups look for in their travel experience.

  1. In your 20’s:

In your twenties, you don’t really know much of the world. When travelling, it will be a whole new experience for you. You don’t really have anything to compare this experience with, so it will put you completely out of your comfort zone, which is ultimately the best way to learn the lessons of life.

Younger people also have the time to dwell abroad; they might even look for job opportunities and decide to settle in a foreign country, because they don’t have a job at home tying them down. With today’s economy, many young adults research job opportunities abroad.

Millennials often travel solo with the goal of meeting new people. This can lead to a long period of travelling where they continue to visit new places with the friends they meet at each new destination. They usually don’t have family responsibilities yet, which gives them the freedom to travel for a longer time.

  1. In your 30’s:

They will mostly be settled with a job and a steady income, making their travelling time shorter, but their trips more affordable and luxurious.

This age group includes a lot of newlyweds on their honeymoon or young couples exploring the world together. They will probably stay at more exclusive hotels and would have some plans of what they would like to explore.

This age group might have more to compare their current experience with. Unlike those in their 20’s, they might be more interested in cultural experiences than clubs.

They may also be travelling with small children, adapting their accommodation and entertainment plans according to the kids.

  1. In your 40’s:

They do thorough planning and their knowledge of travelling is a lot better. They make an effort to have a comfortable stay and more convenient transport options.

They might have more spending money and they will pay more to have a memorable experience. Travelling for work is also quite common in this age group, as well as family trips.

There are also a few travellers in this age group who believe they are getting old, so they will still plan some extreme and adventurous holidays, while it is still physically possible.

  1. In your 50’s:

They might choose destinations with a rich and exotic culture. They have the money and mostly the time to a take a long holiday to experience things they have planned thoroughly.

A frequent occurrence is that their children live abroad and they are visiting, which can also be for a long period of time at once.

Family holidays are still present in this age group, the children being older and often paying for themselves. People in their 50’s are usually quite knowledgeable about travelling and would guide their children in possible activities.

Destinations must find ways to cater for all the different age groups. This will not only keep customers happy, but it will also enlarge your customer segment, which eventually will increase profits.

Written by: Alicia Redelinghuys

PACKAGES FOR 2017

packages

Travelling Mystery Guest

Travelling Mystery Guest has launched a few exciting packages for tourism and hospitality destinations in South Africa. These packages combine a few of the company’s popular services, like Customer Journey Evaluations, Workshops and Destination Marketing Photography to provide our clients with even more value for money.

Bookings for 2017 are already open. Contact us today for more information or to book us for a visit at your destination.

Have a look at the packages below:

PACKAGE 1
CUSTOMER JOURNEY EVALUATION & VISUAL CONTENT SHOOT

This package includes both a Customer Journey Evaluation (mystery guest visit with customized quality assessments, complete and constructive feedback and measurement) and a one hour photo shoot for your destination, of which the images are available to your destination for website and social media content.
R2250.00 for Restaurants
R2750.00 for Accommodation Establishments

Terms and Conditions Apply.

PACKAGE 2
VISUAL CONTENT SHOOT, BLOG REVIEW & PHOTO BLOG FEATURE

This package includes one hour’s photo shoot of your destination’s physical aspects and experiences, as well as a review on Travelling Mystery Guest’s blog and a photo blog on Travelling Mystery Guest‘s photo blog, TMG Photos.
R1000.00 for Restaurants
R1250.00 for Accommodation establishments

Terms and Conditions Apply.

PACKAGE 3
HOST A WORKSHOP AND ATTEND FOR FREE

Host one of Travelling Mystery Guest‘s full-day workshops of R950.00 per delegate at your venue for a minimum of 10 pax and have one employee attend the workshop for FREE. Delegates may be from your own destination, sister companies and/or other destinations. Workshop marketing and gaining delegates will be both Travelling Mystery Guest and the venue’s responsibility and the package agreement will not be binding until a minimum of 10 delegates (including 1 delegate attending for FREE) have been confirmed. Food and beverage costs are not included in the price per delegate.
Terms and Conditions Apply.

*Travel, accommodation, F&B and other customer experiences, i.e. spa treatments and safaris are not included in the package price.

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Travelling Mystery Guest

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!

Destinations need to think out of the box

Highlight what makes you unique and tap into travellers’ expectations.

We recently wrote about business travellers and the growing trend of them looking for destinations that are unconventional and adventurous. Yes, the standard hotel room is still number one on the list for business travellers, but this is mainly because they know they will get what they expect. Hotel groups normally also make this easier, as they have a standard room types, which provide guests with exactly the same whether it is in South Africa or London.

With the bleisure travel trend becoming more and more popular, the demand for more adventurous and unique accommodation options will also increase. This means that destinations will need to start thinking out of the box and tap into travellers’ expectations, which is ever changing and could be quite challenging, yet very exciting!

Out of the box thinking. (Image from: writerswin.com)

Out of the box thinking. (Image from: writerswin.com)

This does not only apply to business travellers, but also leisure travellers. Destinations need to figure out what makes them unique and use that as a selling point. Unique selling points is what gives destinations their competitive advantage. What is yours?

How to identify your unique selling point:

If you are uncertain about what makes your destination stand out from the rest or if you are looking for a way to stand out from the crowd, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does my destination offer something different to the destinations in the area?
  • Can we incorporate educational tourism or voluntourism or something similar in our destination?
  • Does my destination cater for a niche group of travellers, i.e. business travellers, travellers with kids, adventure travellers, etc.?
  • Is there a way to incorporate certain activities for travellers at our destination, i.e. yoga classes, meeting rooms, conference facilities, water sports, expeditions, etc.?

These can be guidelines to see where your destination is able to create its own unique selling points, eventually letting the destination evolve and stand out from the rest.

Tools and Trends to use to your advantage:

Keeping up with current tools and trends in the travel industry will guide you to successfully identify certain areas in which your destination is able to exceed guests’ expectations. Examples of these include:

  • Travel apps and the use thereof
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Knowledge on the different types of tourists and their needs and expectations
  • Creative and inventive thinking (thinking out of the box) from employees
  • Customer feedback (always very valuable)
  • Customer Journey Evaluations (done by Travelling Mystery Guest and helps to identify gaps in the customer journey that need to be attended to)
  • Customer Journey Mapping workshops (teaches HODs and staff how departments interlink with each other to create the ultimate customer experience and shows touch points where the destination has an opportunity to WOW the guest. Contact Travelling Mystery Guest for more information and bookings.)
  • Knowledge about Millennials and their travel trends and expectations
  • Seasonality trends
  • Mobile and other technology that can improve the guest’s experience
  • Cultural, sport or leisure events and wellness holiday trends
  • Long family holiday trends
  • Older travellers tend to travel further and longer and look for more adventure
  • Younger travellers drive the trend for activity or sporting holidays

These are only a few of the things you could consider when you want to set your destination apart from the rest and be the best. Find your unique selling points and use it to your advantage. Think out of the box.

CUSTOMER JOURNEY MAPPING WORKSHOP – Back by popular demand

We all dread it when customers confront us about a bad experience. Whether it is a mistake from our side or due to unforeseen circumstances, an unhappy customer is a customer we don’t want.
Travelling Mystery Guest’s workshop, Customer Journey Mapping, is back by popular demand and the company will be hosting another three of these workshops at different venues in South Africa before the end of the year. The first will take place in Pretoria on 2 September 2015 at the CSIR, just off the N1. On 21 October 2015 the workshop will be held in Johannesburg at Eagle’s View Guesthouse, followed by a visit in Bloemfontein at De Oude Kraal on 4 November 2015. Bookings can be made by contacting Renate de Villiers on 082 336 1562 or enquire@travellingmystery.co.za.

Customer Journey Mapping Workshop

Customer Journey Mapping Workshop

More about the workshop:
The workshop focuses on teaching delegates to create a map of the customer’s experience through their company, whether it is a restaurant, hotel or other service provider. Mapping out the customer’s journey assists line staff and managers to understand the customer’s way of thinking, eventually teaching employees to think like the customer. This leads to staff being able to think further than the here and now and encourages them to go the extra mile. It decreases customer frustrations, motivates staff and creates innovation within the workplace, because employees need to think out of the box in order to get into their customer’s shoes.

The Customer Journey Mapping Workshop helps employees to think like a customer. It helps them to understand why customers often react in certain ways and provides employees with a tool to prevent certain gaps within the customer’s experience. It might also even instigate a few new ideas and standard operating procedures within the customer’s journey that could improve the customer’s experience.
Get to know your customers on a whole new level by attending this exciting workshop. For bookings and more information, contact Renate de Villiers on 082 336 1562 or enquire@travellingmystery.co.za.
IMPORTANT: These workshops can take a maximum of 15 delegates and therefore companies and individuals are urged to book well in advance to avoid disappointment.
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