An international customer service expert has urged leaders in the Tobago tourism industry to invest in training and educating their staff to ensure they are passionate and customer-driven.
John Tschohl, president, Service Quality Institute, in the United States, told a gathering of tourism industry stakeholders that far too often employees in the sector are not loyal to the businesses they work for.
This, he observed, creates a disconnect which manifests itself in poor customer service and bad reviews for the business.
"What are you doing to develop the skills to make them customer-driven?" Tschohl asked, "Because a lot of the times, there is not a lot of loyalty between the workers and the company."
Tschohl was the guest speaker, last Thursday, at a breakfast meeting, titled Creating And Sustaining A Customer Service Strategy For Tobago, hosted by TT Business Etiquette and Protocol Specialists Ltd in collaboration with Green Palm Boutique Hotel, Bon Accord. The interactive event targeted business executives, entrepreneurs and customer service staff.
Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association president Chris James and Crown Point Business Association vice-president Shirley Cook attended.
Speaking via Skype, Tschohl said business operators in the Tobago tourist sector must value their high-performing employees, who attend consistently to the needs of their customers.
"If you do that your business would grow."
However, he acknowledged some businesses simply do not care about customer service.
Tschohl also urged employers to be "frugal" with their staff.
"Sometimes, there may be too many employees so you need to get the best people on the island so that your sales will skyrocket."
Tschohl said employees in the sector must also be taught how to make fast, empowered decisions on the spot to satisfy their customers.
Saying following the rules is not always empowering, Tschohl urged businessmen to review the rules governing their operations with a view to facilitating a smooth flow.
"You don't want to slow everything down and irritate the customer but make business easier."
For instance, he said, elderly citizens may not care about the speed with which business is done but for millennials and older groups, speed can be a vital ingredient.
Tschohl said people in the Caribbean are sometimes too laid back in doing business.
He said in the tourist sector, employees must develop the habit of calling customers by name.
"The most precious thing is for somebody to hear their name."
With respect to growing their businesses, Tschohl said people can develop their operations by advertising through the local television station or through word-of-mouth.
Of the latter, he said: "Word-of-mouth advertising creates an environment so remarkable people feel compelled to come back. If they had a bad experience, they don't come back."
TT Business Etiquette & Protocol Specialists Ltd managing director Margaret White said stakeholders responded overwhelmingly to the session. Director Kelly-Ann Monsegue, who led the interactive session, also spoke.