Overall customer satisfaction in the tourism sector has increased over the past year, continuing the ongoing upward trend in satisfaction since 2011, reveals the UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI), published by The Institute of Customer Service.

The UKCSI gives the UK’s tourism sector an overall customer satisfaction rating of 80.2 out of 100 – 0.6 points higher than its January 2016 score.

Ten organisations within the sector have improved, with P&O Cruises topping the tables as the highest scorer in the industry, with Marriott as the most improved. The data also offers insights into key metrics including strengths, complaints and changing channel use.

This year, the sector is the highest scoring sector (together with the banking sector) for 'in person' experience measures such as speed of service and helpfulness of staff. Tourism also generates fewer problems for customers than any other sector; 9% of customers had a problem, the same as in January 2016, as opposed to the UK average of 13%.

Meanwhile, the proportion of customer interactions by email has increased to 11% whereas the proportion of telephone interactions fell to 12%. Despite the overall increase in customer satisfaction, there has been an increase in the score for customer effort – in other words, customers said they had to expend more effort in dealing with organisations than they did a year ago. For example, 53% of people say that it has taken them more than two attempts to get a problem fixed with businesses in the national public services sector.

The extra staff time spent on repeat customer contact to resolve issues is arguably time which could be better spent, with businesses able to save money on staff hours if a focus is placed on ‘getting it right first time.’

Jo Causon, CEO of The Institute of Customer Service, said: “Generally speaking, it’s been a great year for customer service in the tourism sector, with consumers telling us that businesses are improving overall experiences by getting things right first time and dealing with complaints faster and more efficiently.

“However, these factors do not necessarily translate into customer loyalty and recommendation. Just being ‘good’ is no longer good enough, and organisations should think about how they can deliver outstanding service at all times.

“Added to that, better consistency is needed across different channels. Engagement through digital methods such as email, text, apps and webchat functions have all increased in the last year, and these are the channels through which it’s most difficult for customer service staff to show empathy. Organisations therefore need to make sure that their staff are highly engaged and highly skilled, as every customer interaction – regardless of the channel it’s on – counts towards business performance.”

Image Source: oneinchpunch, fotolia

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