It’s tempting to think of follow up as a reactive discipline. Keyed off a series of events, we often view follow up as the next step to keep everything moving forward. Many organizations have a “follow up” procedure. In most cases, this approach is acceptable and works well. However, a reactive approach is also mechanistic and keeps the company’s processes at the center of the follow up effort rather than the client’s needs. Listening to the individual client and working to achieve a relationship with the client is what will keep your follow up efforts in top shape.
For example, perhaps it is part of your company’s follow-up procedure to call the client every six months to inquire about upcoming travel plans. In most instances, combined with other outbound marketing efforts, the process works well. However, IF you know this particular client has a yearning for a river cruise and IF a terrific value appears on the horizon, establishing contact outside of the framework of your established procedure is the type of follow up keeping the client at the center of the universe. Calling or emailing the client on a 1:1 basis with an opportunity matching the client’s interests and travel ambitions is precisely the type of personalized attention so few of us receive from the professionals in our life, the kind of ownership resulting in clients referring to you as “their” travel agent.
Follow up does not have to be reactive. In fact, the best follow up is pro-active. Calling a client before the client calls you is sure to impress in our service starved economy. Let’s say a client is waiting to hear back from you on a room confirmation and you are waiting to hear back from the resort. Naturally you can wait until you hear the room is confirmed, but client-centric follow up would indicate you call the client to tell them you are still without an answer but you haven’t forgotten about them.
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Keeping the client front and center, informed and cared-for is the goal of a good follow up program. That is how great travel consultants build trust and relationships.