Here comes the sun!

First published Wednesday, March 12, 2014

To the joy of many up and down the county, and indeed across the country the last few days, and if the forecast is correct, the next few days, have been and will be full of sunshine and blue skies. A quick scan across any social media platform brings up lots of spring time pictures, along with positive and upbeat status updates as people enjoy the warmth of the sunshine, and are able to get outside without having to dodge puddles every two paces.

The better weather tends to also bring with it (for some of us anyway) the urge to ‘spring clean’ and refresh everything as the darker days of winter start to move on. Here in Pembroke, the town is full of workmen attending to a number of buildings along the Main Street, with new render and paintwork being completed far more quickly in the sun. Many of our members are busy sorting out gardens, dining rooms, bedrooms and more in preparation for the rapidly approaching season – Easter is just over a month away – and plenty more are actively involved in sorting out the staffing, whether calling back staff from last year, or recruiting new team members.

On the one hand, the obvious visual spring cleaning is important. Whilst money is still at times a little tight, a good wash and scrub up of patios, skirting boards, tables, chairs and bedding can make all the difference, along with the tried and tested well placed bunches of fresh flowers (note the stress on fresh!). However sometimes what we overlook will be the additional things that we add in for visitors. If you are providing leaflets and other information, or a handful of magazines in the lounge, please make sure they are up to date. I had the pleasure of wandering through an establishment a few weeks ago that was proudly displaying a selection of magazines, all relating to December 2013.

Many local attractions and activity providers produce new marketing material each year, highlighting the new and updated offers, and to show a clear commitment to investing in their product. For you to provide a similar level of attention to detail for your visitor will be much appreciated. If you are responsible for updating and maintaining your website, make sure that you have the right dates on it and that any special offers you may be carrying is up to date. A visitor coming across a special offer for September to December last year may not hang around long enough to find out whether you have something going on this year.

Perhaps one of the most important aspects to apply the spring clean touch to, at least in my opinion, is that of customer service and visitor welcome. First impressions are important, make them count for the right reasons. Have a think about how you greet your visitors. If you are an accommodation provider, do you provide a welcoming cuppa and a welsh cake or are they just handed a key and pointed in the rough direction of where the room is? On arrival at your visitor attraction are they given a map and informed of the events happening during the day, or just asked for their money with barely a smile?

Customer service these days extends beyond the face to face. With many interactions happening through social media, websites and emails, it is also important to make sure that the service provided through these channels is up to scratch. Getting the balance between formal and informal conversation can be a challenge, and of course a bad experience for a customer can reach thousands of people through a couple of clicks. Once again, that first impression is important.

Whatever else you are doing in preparation for the coming season, please don’t overlook a refresh of customer service. From a smile, to paying attention and being interested in what the visitor has to say, getting it right can be simple and straightforward, and reap many rewards in the long term. Getting it wrong however can be costly and damaging to your business.

So whether you take inspiration from the service you received when visiting a local restaurant or shop or attraction, or whether you want to get some new ideas from one of our courses, take a few moments before the visitors start arriving to make sure that they will get a proper, warm, friendly Pembrokeshire welcome.

We will be running a Social Customer Service course on 24th March 2014 – click for more information.

First posted on the Pembrokeshire Tourism Blog

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