Our View: Steamboat Chamber takes customer-centric approach

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Those in the tourism business are very familiar with the term “net promoter score” — a rating that indicates how likely a visitor is to recommend a destination or attraction to a friend or family member. The score, which is measured through a survey, has become a buzzword in the tourism industry, and it’s a number that the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association is tracking closely.

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According to Chamber CEO Tom Kern, Steamboat’s net promoter score is good but could be better. The Chamber measured this score in 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2013 with increases recorded each year until 2013 when Steamboat’s net promoter score dropped slightly, with 73 percent of summer 2013 respondents indicating they were highly or extremely likely to recommend Steamboat to their friends and family.

With the release of the summer marketing survey results last week, Kern announced the Chamber would launch a customer service training pilot program modeled after the one Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. has been using to increase its net promoter score among winter visitors. The Chamber will use the same consultant who works with Ski Corp. to create a hybrid program that can be used by businesses communitywide. The collaboration with Ski Corp. means the program can be implemented by the Chamber for half the cost.

According to Kern, the Chamber will begin by working with leaders in city government, lodging, restaurants and retail businesses to identify key people who already are well trained in customer service and work with them to train others. The initial focus will be on restaurants, Kern said, and the results of the training will be measured monthly to determine whether the program is making a difference in customer experience.

Ultimately, the Chamber hopes the new program can be expanded to retail, lodging, transportation and nonprofit sectors of the community to help boost Steamboat’s image and popularity with those who choose to visit here during the summer months, which would result in an improved net promoter score. As Kern said, the competition for visitors is much greater these days, and it comes down to a community’s ability to provide exceptional customer service that typically sets apart resort destinations.

We think the Chamber is wise to invest in a customer service training program that already has a proven track record of success. Since implementing the program among its employees, Ski Corp. has watched its net promoter score rise during the past three years to an all-time high during the 2012-13 season. At a Business Outlook Breakfast hosted by the Chamber in December, Ski Corp. Vice President of Resort Services Jim Snyder spoke about the customer service initiative and credited it with helping to generate “good will among visitors” who in turn wanted to return for another ski vacation in Steamboat.

Imitating that kind of success and making a similar program available to businesses throughout Steamboat is a wise move by Chamber leaders in their effort to create a cohesive, customer-friendly image for the community in all seasons.

We encourage local businesses to get their employees involved in the customer service training program as it becomes available. The more retail businesses, restaurants and service providers focus on the customer, the better the visitor’s experience will be here in Steamboat. Travelers expect to be pampered and treated well, and as business leaders, with the support of the local Chamber, invest in customer service training for their employees, the payoff should be huge with increased business, more dollars spent locally and more people returning to Steamboat and recommending the resort destination to friends and family.

We also commend Chamber leaders for not being satisfied with good but, instead, seeking to be the very best at providing an exceptional customer experience for Steamboat Springs visitors year-round.

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