Customer Loyalty and Customer Experience | Travel Research Online


Customer Loyalty and Customer Experience

In the first installments of this week’s study of customer loyalty, we looked at the difference between customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. Not only are the two different, an emotional relationship with the client was the basis for the difference.  But let’s take a couple of steps back now and let’s look at the importance of the customer experience and its connection to the product offered by the business.

Certainly if my products are substandard my business will suffer and no degree of loyalty will make much of a difference for long.  In fact, an initial satisfaction with a company’s product is essential for loyalty to develop. While loyalty flowers from relationships with the people of a company, the soil in which it grows is the product and procedures of the business offering.  In a small service business like travel consulting, the line between the people offering the service and the service itself merges to such a degree as to be nearly invisible.  You are your product.  Therefore, you and the people who represent you must do so in such a manner as to provide a high degree of customer satisfaction that then grows into a relationship of trust and loyalty.

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Simply put, set expectations early on, and then exceed them greatly. Surprise your clients. Make your clients go “WOW!”

The WOW factor is often best generated by something unanticipated. WOW happens when the client does not expect the special favor. Think beyond the standard fare. A bottle of wine in a hotel room, a call during the trip, a special phone number where you can be reached – these are the norm for travel consultants. A travel diary, a destination guide, a special tip on a great place to have dinner, an invitation to the manager’s reception at the hotel are certainly enhancements.

But let’s remember the concept of being client centric. Value does not originate in your mind, but in the client’s. How valuable is that bottle of wine if your client does not drink? But knowing your client is a fan of old books and manuscripts and providing him with a list of antiquarian shops truly demonstrates your intimate knowledge of both the client and the destination. This is above, it is beyond, it will never be matched by 90% of the travel professionals in the market.

You are looking for that special intersection of client desires and needs with the destination demonstrating your real and authentic concern for the unique personality of the client.

Because the standard of customer service that your clients typically encounter in commerce is so low, it actually does not take a lot to WOW them. In our very hurried society, good customer service often takes the form of giving special allotments of time to your client. Certainly remembering their birthdays, anniversaries and other special holidays and occasions is important. A handwritten note goes a long way to demonstrating that you dedicated time to them. Meetings with them where you lavish attention and time to their plans and ambitions, where you take no other calls and where you don’t hurry the meeting to get to another. Give clients your time and they will give you theirs.

WOW’ing clients is also about demonstrating enthusiasm for their travel plans. Your clients are excited about their opportunity to travel. Be excited with them! Demonstrate your willingness to do everything possible to ensure that their travel plans are complete and well-thought. Bring your expertise to bear and anticipate problem areas. Anticipate their needs long before they do.

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