Providing an Expert with Expert Customer Service

by Judy Jacobs
Providing an Expert with Expert Customer Service

Some might find it intimidating to serve as the travel agent for a consultant named the “New Guru of Customer Service Excellence” by The Financial Post. But Lisa Timmons of United Nations Travel in Philadelphia takes it in stride.

Timmons met Micah Solomon, a speaker and author on customer service, after he gave up trying to book his own frequent travel online and decided to use a travel agent.

Early last month, Solomon wrote about why he uses an agent on Forbes.com. The article is titled “Why I Happily Waste Money on a Travel Agent (Maybe You Should Too.)

Solomon found Timmons through his tennis teacher, who is also a concert promoter. He felt that an agent who can handle musicians with their demanding travel needs, should be able to handle his as well.

United Nations Travel is a single-location, brick-and-mortar agency in downtown Philadelphia with three full-time agents. All of its business, which is about 80% corporate, comes through referrals. The agency doesn’t have a website.

As a musician herself – and member of a four-piece female Celtic band called the Molly Blooms – Timmons is well aware of the needs of musicians and other travelers with out-of-the-ordinary requirements.

Travel Market Report talked with Timmons about how she’s able to impress a customer service expert like Solomon.

What does customer service mean to you?
Timmons: For me customer service is natural. It’s taking care of every need that you see. Being happy, being friendly, having clients walk away feeling better than when they came in. Doing whatever’s needed and doing it with a smile.

What practices make for good customer service?
Timmons: Follow-up is an important part of customer service. If someone sends you an email they don’t want to wait three days for you to get back to them. If I can’t deal with them right away, I email them and tell them I’ll get back to them later. I never wait more than an hour to get back to people. It could be 10 minutes, but an hour’s the maximum.

Customer service is being aware of every little issue that needs to be dealt with. Getting seats, for example, is a big problem. If there are only middle seats left, we’ll call the client and tell them. They might want to book another flight. We do whatever it takes. For international travelers, we advise people to check their passport to make sure they have six months left on it.

You also need to be willing to admit that you’ve made a mistake. If we’ve made a mistake, we take care of it, but we also recognize that it happened.

What do you think some agents are doing wrong in serving clients?
Timmons: People like to get somebody they know to begin with. In a lot of companies you’ll get somebody on the phone, and you may not get the same person the next time. A profile can only do so much. When you deal with someone again and again, it gives some consistency. Because we’re a smaller agency we can offer that real intimate service.

What do you think sets you and your agency apart?
Timmons: Here we’re more than just travel agents. Most of my clients would call me a friend. I like that. It makes me feel good about myself. They trust me. That’s a good thing. They know I wouldn’t let them down.

Related Story
Customer Service Pro: Be a Partner & a Mommy



  0
  0
Tip of the Day
Daily Top List

Travel Tricks Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know

1. Have a System for TSA Security.

2. Prepare Electronics for Continuous Work.

3. Pack for Success.

4. Plane Etiquette.

5. The Best Credit Cards for Travel.

Source: Forbes

TMR THIS WEEK
http://services.travelsavers.com/AMGService.svc/REST/GetImage?ImageID=bcae730a-7857-e811-ba59-782bcb66a2f2

Digital Detox May Sound Appealing, But Cruise Connectivity Wins Out

An increasing number of cruise lines are offering free WiFi and travel agents say their clients couldn’t be happier.

TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
Why Some Travel Agents Ask for Budgets Up Front
Why Some Travel Agents Ask for Budgets Up Front

Never be the first to quote a number, expert negotiators say. But when it comes to travel, sharing your number with your agent ensures the best possible vacation.

Travel Agents Have Voices Heard in D.C. During ASTA's Legislative Day
Travel Agents Have Voices Heard in D.C. During ASTA's Legislative Day

Having their day on Capitol Hill, agents bring key issues to the Senate and House of Representatives.

Americans Are Vacationing More Now Than Any Point Since 2010
Americans Are Vacationing More Now Than Any Point Since 2010

In another encouraging sign for travel agents, upward leisure travel trend helps U.S. reach highest level of vacation day usage since 2010.

Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano Eruption Isn’t a Covered Event for Typical Travel Insurance
Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano Eruption Isn’t a Covered Event for Typical Travel Insurance

Despite the headlines and photos coming from Hawaii’s Big Island, the event is not disrupting travel plans.

Headquarter Happenings: For Host Agency TPI, Treating Agents as Business Owners Is Key
Headquarter Happenings: For Host Agency TPI, Treating Agents as Business Owners Is Key

Travel Planners International will roll out a new integrated technology platform for its agents later this year. The 30-year-old host is also looking to redefine the host agency model.

Two Agents Talk How ASTA Destination Expo in Greece will Directly Impact Their Sales
Two Agents Talk How ASTA Destination Expo in Greece will Directly Impact Their Sales

Greece wasn’t on the radar for two American travel agents, who say their eyes and businesses were opened by immersing themselves in the destination.

News Briefs
TMR Report Cards
Advertiser's Voice
Advertiser's Voice: Norwegian Cruise Line