Train tourism staff to be loyal


John Tschohl, President of the Service Quality Institute

An international customer service expert urged Tobago’s tourism industry leaders to invest in training and educating their staff to ensure they are passionate and customer-focused.

John Tschohl, president of the Service Quality Institute in the United States, told a gathering of tourism industry players that all too often workers in the industry are not loyal to the companies they work for.

This, he observed, creates a disconnect that manifests itself in poor customer service and bad reviews for the company.

“What are you doing to develop the skills to be customer-centric? Tschohl asked, “Because often there isn’t a lot of loyalty between the workers and the company.”

Tschohl was the guest speaker last Thursday at a breakfast, titled Creating and Maintaining a Customer Service Strategy for Tobago, hosted by TT Business Etiquette and Protocol Specialists Ltd in conjunction 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 were in attendance.

Speaking via Skype, Tschohl said business operators in Tobago’s tourism sector need to value their high-performing employees, who consistently serve the needs of their customers.

“If you do this, your business will grow.”

However, he acknowledged that some companies just don’t care about customer service.

Tschohl also urged employers to be “frugal” with their staff.

“Sometimes there can be too many employees, so you have to recruit the best people on the island to make your sales skyrocket.”

Tschohl said industry workers also need to learn how to make quick, empowered decisions on the spot to keep their customers happy.

Saying that following the rules isn’t always empowering, Tschohl urged businessmen to review the rules governing their operations to facilitate a smooth flow.

“You don’t want to slow everything down and irritate the customer, but make it easier to do business. “

For example, he said, older people might not care how fast business is done, but for millennials and older groups, speed can be an essential ingredient.

Tschohl said Caribbean people are sometimes too laid back to do business.

He said that in the tourism industry, employees need to develop the habit of calling customers by name.

“The most precious thing is that someone hears his name.”

When it comes to growing their businesses, Tschohl said people can grow their businesses by advertising through the local TV station or by word of mouth.

Of the latter, he said: “Word of mouth creates such a remarkable environment that 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.

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