Cruise & Ferry Review - Spring/Summer 2023

94 INTERVIEW Creating compelling customer experiences In the post-Covid era, ferry operators have recognised that they need to invest in delivering high-quality services that will exceed customers’ expectations and win business back. Simon Johnson asks Matteo Della Valle about Grandi Navi Veloci’s strategy What constitutes an excellent customer experience? It’s a question that every ferry operator must ask if they want to remain competitive, differentiate their brand and become the service provider of choice for travellers in an increasingly competitive marketplace. However, finding the right solution can be tricky, particularly in a world shaped by everevolving customer expectations and changing socioeconomic, geopolitical, environmental and other factors. According to Matteo Della Valle, passenger sales and marketing director at Italian brand Grandi Navi Veloci (GNV), the answer lies in going back to basics. “Ferry operators must provide a seamless experience that makes passengers feel valued and understood,” he says. “GNV strives to achieve this goal through clear and transparent customer communication, via everything from targeted advertising to our post-sale actions. We also work hard to efficiently solve all the problems that our customers face and always making them feel comfortable and protected through the friendly and empathetic approach of our staff.” GNV was founded in Genoa, Italy, in 1992 and now operates 25 vessels on routes to Sardinia, Sicily, Spain, Tunisia, Morocco, France and Albania. Each ferry offers comfortable and wellequipped cabins and suites, as well as a range of public spaces including lounges, restaurants, children’s play areas and shops. Shoreside employees and onboard crew members play an equally crucial role in delivering a high-quality travel experience, both onboard the ferries and in the ports they sail to. “Shoreside employees are the first people our customers come into contact with when they enter the ferry terminal, so they’re responsible for providing support and assistance at the start of the journey,” says Della Valle. “Meanwhile, crew members are responsible for ensuring passengers are comfortable and safe onboard our vessels. Shoreside and shipboard staff must work together in a coordinated way to ensure we offer customers the best experience. “The distinctive thing about GNV’s customer experience is our Mediterranean hospitality and the fact we’re creating personalised services for each target audience that needs to take the ferry.” GNV continually measures the quality of its services, adapting them to resolve any issues and meet the ever-evolving needs and expectations of its customers. “We ask all travellers to complete an email survey after their trip, which enables us to track net promoter scores and measure customer satisfaction levels,” says Della Valle, noting that onboard sales can also provide a good indicator of how content customers are with GNV’s services. “In addition, we identify any customer experience issues or areas for improvement by collecting and analysing data that comes from claims, onboard warnings, social media comments and our website.” GNV has noticed several changes in passenger expectations following the Covid-19 pandemic and modified its services accordingly. “Since the pandemic, passengers have been much more attentive to cleanliness, GNV’s friendly staff play a pivotal role in enhancing the passenger experience onboard its ferries