Customer service and sales are not mutually exclusive

Date added: 11th Jun 2013
Category: Customer Experience

At events for the visitor attraction industry in the last 12 months, attendees have been asked their top 10 most burning topics. Commonly the collective top two were both to do with the impact of climate on ticket sales. One was referring to the economic climate and the other the incessant rain which we appear to experience, and for the UK the coldest Spring in 50 years. Interestingly there was no mention of how much visitors spend once they get to the attraction. They all said that secondary spend was about the same as previous years.

Given the general drop in visitor numbers to attractions and the challenges faced with constantly trying to attract visitors, it is surprising that maximising average visitor spend is not even on the radar. The truth is that it does not take much effort to get visitors to spend more when visitors are offered things that will enhance their visit. And the good news is that it does not require anything clever or fancy.  It just requires a change to the way we look at sales. A common perception seems to be that sales is a dirty word. Yet to me, when done correctly it is a fundamental part of customer service.

I regularly get engaged as a mystery sales shopper at leisure attractions. This service is not just about testing customer service, although that is an important factor. It is particularly about looking at how effective the staff are at getting me to spend more as part of customer service. It seems like customer service and sales are strange bed fellows. Surely the two do not go hand in hand. Take this recent trip to a local museum as an example. The staff were obviously very well trained in customer service. However, they managed to miss 7 opportunities to make my visit even more enjoyable and raise more money for their much needed charity.

Firstly on arrival I bought my ticket and I asked for a map and I was given one by a lady with a big smile. However, right next to the map was a beautiful glossy brochure costing £4. It was not mentioned at all. Surely if I wanted a brochure I would ask. Maybe some will but many will not. Asking if it was my first visit and explaining how the brochure would add to my experience could have tempted me.

When done correctly the visitor leaves thinking that the attraction cares about them whether they decide to spend or not. And of course, when they do spend the attraction generates much needed income.

Another common missed opportunity is in the attraction restaurant and this was no exception. I was served pleasantly by smiling staff when I made my normal order of a jacket potato with a topping of baked beans. There was a sign clearly stating that an extra topping was available. In every attraction I visit I pray that I will be asked whether I would like cheese with my jacket potato because it tastes so much better. Yet again I was disappointed and the attraction missed out on an extra £1. How much effort was required to ask me?  Again, even though there was a sign clearly stating that extra toppings were available it would only take a couple of seconds to ask. It was not exactly busy that day!

I can go on but I hope you get the picture. The 7 missed opportunities from this one attraction added up to close to £15 from just one visitor. Of course, the chances of each visitor spending that much extra is quite slim but what about an extra £1 per head? The normal price of an extra topping of cheese on a jacket potato! And multiplied by the number of visitors every year that could make a substantial difference to even the smallest of visitor attractions.

Customer service and sales are not mutually exclusive. In fact, if a visitor’s experience will be enhanced by things like the brochure and the extra topping of cheese is it a disservice to not mention them?

If you would like to find out more about how you could make the most of some impactful sales through service techniques to improve the visitor experience and general additional income, please do get in touch

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