Written By: Scott Koepf, Vice President of Strategic Development – Cruise Planners
When do you stop selling and start providing customer service? Sometimes to breakdown the sales process into definable elements we will treat customer service separately from sales. However, the fact is that customer service starts when the sales process starts and actually never ends if done right. In other words being a great sales person creates great customer service and great customer service creates great sales (through repeats and referrals).
The final step in the sales process is follow up but it should probably say ‘continuous follow up.’ Follow up should not only occur until the sale is made but with specific touchpoints between the sale (deposit received) and departure as well as post the travel experience (until they book again). Therefore, it is important to set your own system for each of those phases in the customers relationship with you.
Author Elliot Ettenberg believes we are in the biggest buyers’ market in history. That means, as salespeople, we need to be extraordinary in all we do to make sales and keep customers coming back. He suggests there are four things we must do for success:
1. Offer Enhanced Services – This has been the theme of all of these sales articles. What are you doing at each step of the way that will add value and be memorable? This cant be effectively accomplished spontaneously. It is important to outline all consumer interactions and design exactly what you will do at each step that is enhanced.
2. Delight Customers – This is actually the result of the first suggestion. What you need to do to delight is to surprise. If you only do what the customer expects you to do then you will not delight them. These do not have to be expensive gifts or add ons but instead focus on providing information and levels of service way beyond expectation.
3. Build Relationships – True success for a travel agent should be judged on the number of customers you have that buy from you exclusively time and time again. Gross Sales may be the scorecard but building lifetime customers is how you will achieve your goals in the long run. In the end, people buy from people they like and trust. Therefore, in both one and two above don’t forget to let your personality shine through. Be yourself and have fun and customers will become loyal as long as you have the system in place to connect with your customers consistently.
4. Identify and Cater to the Best Clients – While you should endeavor to provide a wonderful sales experience and exceptional customer service to all of your customers, there is no doubt you have to adjust your interactions based on each customer. A customer who buys a $500 hotel package for two nights should not get the same customized service as someone buying a $10,000 cruise. That may sound obvious, but have you written out how you will treat them differently through the whole sales and service cycle? Customers who buy small purchases may graduate up to bigger purchases but those buying bigger purchases tend to continue to do so, therefore you need to treat them differently.
Many agents say that customers should buy from them because of their customer service. While that may be true, is yours documented (written down in detail) and does it fulfill the four suggestions above? If so then you are on your way to spectacular results!