Customer Service

How to provide the best customer service across phone, email, social media, and live chat

Best practices for tourism operators and accommodation
Letitia Stevenson
August 8, 2019

Modern travellers expect 24/7 customer service and support. Here are some tips for meeting their expectations. 

Tourism never sleeps. As you drift off into dreamland, someone, somewhere could be looking at your website and planning their next holiday. By the time you wake up and respond to their enquiry, they’ve booked with another tourism operator. Poof. Gone. 

In today’s hyper-competitive market, travellers expect 24/7 customer service and support across phone, email, social media, and live chat. Here’s how you can give it to them without sacrificing your beauty sleep. 


1. Phone

In a perfect world, your team will answer every phone call, whether it’s from Porirua or Paris. 

However, that’s not realistic for most tourism businesses – even if you have a stellar central reservation team. 

The next best thing is a great voicemail greeting that sets expectations for when you will respond or directs callers to a page on your website where they can find relevant information (and possibly even solve their enquiry). 

Phone customer service tips:

  • Avoid using engaged signals – many people won’t call back.

  • Use caller ID technology to track the phone numbers of all incoming calls, including missed calls. That means you can ring people back if you miss a call.

  • Don’t expect the caller to leave their phone number with you – many travellers won’t know their number off by heart, especially if they are using a temporary SIM card. Instead, use caller ID technology to identify and save their number. 


2. Email

Ironically, a good sign that your website is performing well is when you get fewer emails. 

Email communication is often the last resort for travellers. Many of them don’t get to this stage of enquiry.

Most people only email if they have an issue, for example:


  • They can’t easily make a booking on your website
  • They can’t find an answer to a question on your website


Try to address these issues before they make it into an email through features such as a reliable online booking system and a comprehensive FAQs section. 

You want to find ways of communicating key information in real-time, so your prospect doesn’t become frustrated and leave your site. For example, Yonder comes with non-intrusive pop-up messages that convey up-to-date information about weather, schedules, deals, and more. 


Email customer service tips:

  • Use an auto-reply to let the prospect know when they can expect a personalised response (and to reassure them that their email went through).

  • In the auto-reply, direct them to other useful sources of information on your website, e.g. your online booking system, FAQs section, or live chat widget.

  • Keep your auto-replies up-to-date. Review these every week to make sure they refer to any special rates and deals.

  • Send a personalised response as soon as possible (even 24 hours is too slow these days). A short response is better than a slow or late response.

  • Link email communication to a CRM system that automatically alerts you to make follow-up enquiries.

  • Email open rates are declining (~20%), so pay close attention to subject lines and consider using other communication channels (such as messenger apps) to boost customer engagement. 

 

3. Social media

Pay attention to the communication channels that sit alongside your preferred social media platforms. For example, direct messaging on Instagram and Messenger on Facebook. Ideally, you’ll have someone manning these channels every day. 

Social media customer service tips

  • Use social media to communicate with some customers – there will be a percentage of your target audience that prefers social media to phone or email.

  • Remember the need for immediacy is increased on social media – most users expect instant answers. 


  • If there are negative comments about you on Facebook, make sure you respond as soon as possible to mitigate issues, especially while it’s at the top of people's feeds.

  • In addition to Facebook and Instagram, other popular channels for travellers include WeChat, WeBio, SnapChat and WhatsApp. You want to be where your customers are.


4. Live chat

Live chat is by far the easiest and most effective way to respond to enquiries in real-time. 

Around 2-4% of your website visitors will engage with your chat. This is expected to increase as more people become familiar with the feature.

Implementing live chat now is a chance to get ahead of the trend and develop internal processes to turn it into a high performing tool.

By the time live chat reaches saturation point in the market and ‘everyone is doing it’, you’ll be well ahead of the pack.

Live chat customer service tips:

  • Man your live chat as often as possible, as people will expect immediate responses.

  • Automate the answers to repetitive questions to relieve frontline staff of some communication pressure (Yonder takes care of this for you).

  • Integrate live chat across other platforms, such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

  • Consider including payment through chat – a great way to secure the sale without directing your customer to another window and potentially losing their business.


TL;DR

Travellers expect 24/7 customer service. If you don’t provide around-the-clock support, they’ll find another operator who will. Fortunately, technology can do most of the heavy lifting for you – features like AI-assisted live chat and email autoresponders work as an extension of your sales team, guiding customers through the booking process even when you’re offline. 



Try Yonder

Yonder is a communication tool for tourism operators. Our AI-powered technology makes it easy to communicate with your customers 24/7 and that will lead you to more bookings. 

What’s not to love? Get in touch to see how we can work for you while you sleep - you may be eligible for a free 30-day trial or we can provide a 30min customer service assessment.

Let’s chat, we can help.


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