Everyone seems to understand the importance of good customer service for creating loyal clients and a positive reputation, but is it good enough? Good service can be recreated easily and in some cases even automated. So what you need to really wrap your “heart” around is not the traditional “marketing touches,” but rather the unexpected personal actions that truly show your clients or prospects that you actually care and understand their needs – even outside their travel booking experience. Here are 3 ways to do that:
- Facebook is your friend…literally! Many entrepreneurs struggle to keep their personal and professional lives separate. In our experience at GIFTE, the top performing travel professionals believe there is no separation between your personal and professional life. It is just life. However, they do create boundaries in their life and there is a difference. Back to Facebook…if you “friend” your clients or prospects on Facebook you can learn more about their personal lives. For example, you may learn that their wedding anniversary is coming up, or their daughter is graduating, or they got a promotion at work. The list is endless. You can use this information to send a congratulations gift, card, email or phone call (I always suggest a phone call or hand written card!). You want your clients and prospects to know that you care about their lives. I will always remember when my State Farm agent sent my husband and me a beautiful baby gift when my son was born. I never would have expected him to know that, but we are friends on Facebook and he took action to show he cared. I now have every type of insurance through his agency and don’t hesitate to refer his team.
- Skype. As Hillary Clinton says, “meeting face-to-face is what makes the world go round.” Although you can’t meet your clients and prospects face-to-face all the time, and in some cases never, you can leverage a technology platform like Skype to create a more engaging experience. Imagine you have your “travel planning” session over Skype and you can see your client’s reaction when you recommend that small little hidden bed and breakfast in Tuscany. Wouldn’t that help you determine if you are on the right track? Facial expressions and body language can go a long way to increasing your understanding of how to please your clients. And on the other side of the coin, when your clients and prospects see your passion and enthusiasm for their trip through your body language and facial expressions, that will also go a long way. Try it!
- Send them a referral or unexpected gift. Is your client a business owner like you? Maybe you can send them a referral. Or, do you know what type of cuisine they love, are they a “techie” or do you know if they are an “enthusiast” of some kind (wine, sports, music, etc.)? Knowing these laser-focused details about your clients will help you make a recommendation or a referral. What if you see a cookbook from a chef you know that your top client loves? Buy it, write a personal note and send it off! Imagine their reaction when they see that you thought of them! Or, maybe your client told you that a trip to Africa is on their bucket list. Buy a book on Africa and send it to them to let them know you haven’t forgotten. You can uncover these kinds of details about your clients by…
- having engaging conversations with them
- recording the details from your engaging conversations in an organized CRM system so you can remember it for later
- following them on social media so you can find out what they like (Pinterest is really good for this)
Technology advances have given us incredible leverage to enhance our client engagement and consequently increase retention and referrals. Social media and certain tech tools (like Skype) can be a huge blessing. The examples above actually serve as a window into the lives of your clients so you can deliver personal, memorable service that creates clients for life. And at the end of the day, that is what you ultimately want!
Vanessa began her career in travel working on cruise ships in 2001. Throughout the years she held various important roles and gained distinction in the cruising industry. Today she is the VP of Business Development and Strategic Partnerships for the Global Institute for Travel Entrepreneurs. Learn more about GIFTE here: www.TravelBusinessU.com