Written By: Scott Koepf, V.P. of Strategic Development – Cruise Planners
Get the credit card.
Close the sale.
Reel ‘em in.
I have heard them all but none of them should be your goal if you want a long-term profitable business. No doubt you need to close sales to make money and be successful. We have covered the approach to use for closing sales in this series of articles in depth. However, the ultimate goal should be to create a lifetime customer who is also a raving fan who tells everyone they know to do business with you. So how do you reach that goal?
The answer is to dig into every detail of each interaction you have with every customer and determine how it can be a wow moment every time. Marketing, sales and customer service are usually taught as three separate subjects that need different skill sets and attention. However, we should combine all three and look at it from the perspective of the customers journey. To the consumer there are not three distinctive areas that they pay attention to. They will simply look at every interaction and touch point as part of their relationship with you. Therefore, you should do the same. How does your messaging and communications tie together and how can you improve each contact so that it leaves no doubt that you are the only choice for purchasing travel.
I have already talked about big data and personalization in previous articles and how important it is to really know your customers and to track that information. However, now you should look at the process that you will use for the entire customer journey. In particular let’s look at what happens to a customer once they return from a vacation that you sold them.
In so many cases the customer gets a welcome home message via a phone call or email and then are simply added back into the standard customer database. I will assume that you do have some set schedule for ongoing communications to your entire database (if you do not then at least start by setting that up). In other words, your best clients who have actually purchased from you are getting the exact number and same messages as someone who has been on your database for five years and you have never had a conversation with. The problem should be obvious. I have noted before the Pareto Principal which says that 80% of your business will come from 20% of your customers. Quite simply it is very important to treat your best customers differently and in a more customized manner than your other customers. What is really interesting is that the percentages noted above are looking at only the clients who actually bought travel from you. When compared to your entire database then it may be that 80% of your income may be coming from less than 1% of the total numbers of people on your database.
Creating Loyalty is not the responsibility of the customer as it is entirely up to you. Frequency and relevancy will be the two most important things to keep in mind for your best customers. For each good client who returns from a trip you need to create a twelve month plan of communications. While it can include some generic emails or direct mail pieces like newsletters, it should primarily be made up of personalized contacts. Offer products and destinations that you know will be of interest to them. Pick up the phone at least every two months and talk to them. The call does not have to be a sales call with a specific offer although occasionally there is nothing wrong with that especially if it is something they specifically told you to keep an eye out for. Most calls are just to touch base and see if you can help them. If you set up a standard scheduling template that you follow for each top client it will make the process easy to implement and then you just personalize some of the communications as called for in your plan.
Use multiple media choices to reach out. Do not only set up automated emails to go out but add in direct mail pieces and phone calls and if appropriate, text and social media avenues. Out of sight is out of mind so you probably need to double or triple the number of contact points you think is enough. Some companies I have allowed to send me emails have no problem sending me four or five emails a day! Now I certainly do not recommend that, but I believe one per week is not nearly enough.
As a final comment I will go back to the start of the post trip journey for your top clients. I noted that you might give your clients a welcome home call or email message. I hope you do both actually, but as I typed that sentence my big sausage fingers made a typo and so I almost wrote that you may send a welcome home massage. Well, why not? Any good advisor should send a message but imagine giving the client a massage after a long travel day! No, it does not mean you need to personally show up with a table and lotions, but a gift card will do the trick. Cut a deal with Massage Envy and away you go. A unique approach to an expected service is always what you should be looking for. No doubt this is one way you can ‘rub out’ your competition!