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Sustainability and customer satisfaction

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Sustainability generally is continuity of a business now and in the future. It involves the ability to maintain or support an activity or process over the long term. Customer satisfaction is a key component in ensuring sustainability of a tourism enterprise.  Customer satisfaction is a measure of how the products/ services of a company meet or surpass a customer’s expectations. The Ecotourism Kenya Certification Scheme has a set standard on monitoring customer/client satisfaction that emphasizes on; existence of a system for capturing guest feedback which should be documented and analyzed. The results should be taken into account for service improvement or corrective action.

Measuring Customer satisfaction is important and provides mutual benefit for both the tourism enterprise and the customers. It creates value in a number of ways, including;

  1. Basis for improvement
    Client feedback provides marketers and business owners with a metric that they can use to manage and improve their businesses.
  2. Improves business image
    Businesses who succeed in these cut-throat environments are the ones that make customer satisfaction a key element of their business strategy. This is true in all business enterprises and especially in tourism.
  3. It reduces negative word of mouth
    A tarnished reputation has a damaging effect on any business. A study by Mckinsey found that an unhappy customer tells between 9-15 people about their experience. In fact, 13% of unhappy customers tell over 20 people about their experience.
  4. Makes economic sense
    It has been proven that it is cheaper to retain old clients than it is to acquire new ones. The most publicized customer satisfaction statistic out there is that it costs six to seven times more to acquire new customers than it does to retain existing customers. Satisfied customers also do immense marketing for tourism facilities through word of mouth and other online avenues such as social media and online review sites.

Collecting feedback using emoticons

There are many ways to measure client satisfaction, including the long trusted classic of manager rounds. Others include using client feedback forms strategically placed at the reception or in guests’ rooms. With the ever advancing innovations in technology it only makes good business sense to embrace the trend. There are various ways online platforms to measure client satisfaction including; online surveys (survey monkey, customer sure), travel review sites e.g. Tripadvisor and even creating customized mobile applications for your facility.

As per the Ecorating Certification Standard, it is not only enough to collect client feedback, there should be procedures in place to monitor, analyse and follow up client comments to ensure continued improvement. Monitoring and analysis should be done at least on monthly basis. The information collected should be well documented for proper monitoring and future reference. Analysis of the information ensures that appropriate follow up actions are taken and in a timely manner. Analysis of this feedback also allows management to evaluate if the corrective actions taken are meeting the client needs.

An example of client feedback monitoring among the the ecorated facilities can be drawn from Severin Safari Camp. The facility collects feedback through different avenues. They include; manager rounds where the manager on duty collects feedback from clients during meal times. The reception is also available for clients round the clock. The facility also collects feedback from client feedback forms in the guests’ tents and tripadvisor. This information is analysed on a monthly basis by the top management. After analysis, corrective actions are deliberated in the departmental meetings and the emerging issues rectified accordingly.