Today’s technologies have empowered customers in ways we never would have imagined ten years ago. With the touch of a few buttons, customers can have all the information they want at their fingertips.
Also, they also have the ability to decimate a business with a few taps on their phone with a negative review, or worse. This is particularly true for smaller agencies that tend to have fewer reviews—they will stand out!
Keeping up with technology is not easy. As a business owner you need to think about not only managing your reputation, but how to get the attention of potential and keep them interested enough to make them want to continue interacting with you.
So, what can you do to increase the number of customers engaging with you and your agency?
Use Social Media As A Customer Engagement Tool
Too many businesses use their social media accounts to simply create an online presence. Some use it as their only online presence. I am sure you all have social media pages. But are you using them? There is more to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram than reposting content, making comments and announcing and promoting the next greatest special from Carnival or Apple.
We have access to a wealth of information. Share it. See an article on TRO? Share it. Did some travel CEO make a speech to some business association? Share the transcript. Of course, you don’t want to give away any secrets, but create the conversation. And then facilitate it and keep it going. Make sure that you are the go to source.
Give your followers something to react to–ask for feedback on a trip you are planning for a client to see if there is anything that your customers are now looking for that you may have missed. Remember, today’s client often knows as much as you; but they are coming to you for the value you add.
Create a Twitter poll so customers can vote on what type of cabin they like best for Mediterranean cruises. You could also use a poll as a way to involve your customers with your business—thinking about a new logo? Maybe a tagline? Why not let your customers help decide! How empowering is that?
Improve Customer Support
Are you offering help and support through your social media channels? If not… why not?
You should integrate all the channels you use to provide support. Phone, SMS, email and all social media channels need to be included. Do not force your customers to contact you the way you want to be contacted. Allow them to contact you the way they want to contact you. I do it all the time. When I have an issue that is not pressing (but still needs addressing), I will send an email—often in the middle of the night. I do not expect an immediate answer. But if they forced me to call, it may not be convenient to do it in the middle of the day during “regular business hours.” And there you have it—they just ticked me off!
Great customer service is essential these days. One bad experience and everyone will know about it.
Make an effort to know your customers, but make sure not to overdo it. While CRMs are great, and certainly social profiles can add to your arsenal about knowing your customer, you can go too far. On Facebook, you might see they dine in fine restaurants and drive fancy cars. This will tip you off to the type of traveler they may be. But if your interactions go too far… “oh I saw you had the escargot at La Filet du Boef the other week”…you may have a restraining order on the way!
Remember to touch your clients for no reason at all at least six times a year. No pitch. Just a quick hello or well wishes. Or as Mike Marchev likes to say—just let ‘em know you still exist!
One of the best investments of your time will be to learn Google Analytics for your website. It can be as complex or as simple as needed, but the information is invaluable. While you will not be able to learn specifics of clients, you can easily see trends. Are they hanging around a particular type of travel more than others? How many times did they go back to a page for a second look? What pages tuned them off? You might discover a disproportionate number of people from Minot, ND find your site. Maybe you need to get a billboard in Minot. Google Analytics is a tremendous tool and can increase your business. Here’s a real life example. I operate a local (non-travel) community information site. Via Google Analytics, I saw that a good number of my visitors were from a southern part of my county and they were connecting via very slow speeds and some with dial-up (if you can imagine). They also had a fair number of mobile users. I discovered that they did not have broadband down there and if they needed speed, they’d use their phones. But also knowing that phones use data, I also saw they spent less time on my site than others. The solution, a text based sub-site that will load very fast on dial-up, or will not use a lot of data on a mobile device. Word spread and I saw an uptick in traffic from that part of the county. I suggested they subscribe to my emailed newsletter and many did. So, while I am unable to target them with ads reading the site, I am building good relationships, and I am able to target them with the emailed newsletters! There is so much you can see if you just dig a bit.