A while back I was doing a little web “surfing” when I came across a major travel industry conference, and I began to snoop around.
This event really looked cool, and I thought I would spend a few days down at the convention center to learn what I could learn…and to see whom I could see. After all, I guess after 30 years it might not be a bad idea to let a few people in the industry know that I am still alive and capable of fogging a mirror with the best of them.
But, that is not the purpose of my writing today.
In reviewing the workshops and training sessions, I saw all kinds of interesting and eye-catching topics. I found myself wanting to attend them all. (I also wanted to know who was presenting these sessions while I was sitting at my kitchen table “surfing the web.” Another lesson for another day.)
Then I saw it. I spotted something that set me back on my heels. Of all the cool topics promoted for Thursday, Friday and Saturday, there was one…only one…that was SOLD OUT.
Here was a lead. Here, right in front of me and my cup of coffee, was a morsel of marketing research that only us high-priced marketing gurus are trained to spot. “Could this be the future for my speaking topics?” “Have I stumbled upon the Rosetta Stone?” “Could this be the break I was looking for?”
The only training session that was SOLD OUT did not include the words negotiation, sales, presentation skills, social media, video production, blogging or podcasting. It did not even mention new business development. What it did include were the two words CUSTOMER SERVICE. (SOLD OUT)
I don’t know about you, but I personally find this to be INCREDIBLE.
In a tight economy, an over-communicated world, too much internet information, large and respected organizations falling from grace daily, with too many “shoulds” and not enough “dids,” the only training session that was SOLD OUT was the one that was about to teach the audience how to say please and thank you.
In 90-minutes it was going to remind the participants that it is not polite to bite the hand that feeds you. The instructor was going to recommend that we all start treating our customers like dogs. My initial thought process was, “Do agents still need to be told that this is the way to run their businesses? That there really is no magic formula? That customers still need to be treated as valued people first?”
Yes. In a time of high anxiety and stress, doubt and fear, these nuggets and reminders definitely do have merit. That is still not the point. The fact that so many people in our industry need to be reminded of the fact that the customer rules is what interests me. Sung to the tune of SOLD OUT!
I am sure that this session will be a good one. I plan on sitting in myself. But in case you miss it, here are a Dozen of My Personal Customer Service Tips:
- If you are not already doing so, begin treating your customers like dogs. (Pet friendly people know exactly what I am saying.)
- Don’t multi-task when customers are within eye-sight. (This goes for cell phones and on-the-fly emails.)
- When on the phone with a customer, ignore call-waiting.
- Stand to greet incoming clients.
- Stand before parting ways.
- “Love the one you’re with.” A tribute to “the boys.”
- Do what you say you’ll do. (This alone can solidify a successful career.)
- Floss. Brush. Think about customers. The old 1,2,3.
- Use your customer’s names a lot. “You can call me Al.”
- Say “thank-you” a lot.
- Answer all phone calls like you are happy to be alive. (Some of you may have to work at this one.)
- Buy all of my travel-related sales and marketing books.
2018 will be here soon. Better days are coming. I promise.
P.S: Be forgiving of the people who are responsible for your eating habits. They too are trying to figure out how to get through this mess.
Mike Marchev has plenty of stories, strategies and tactics to keep you on top of your game.
Mike will be conducting his 5th annual Travel Sales & Marketing Business Development Cruise, sailing the Freedom of The Seas from Ft. Lauderdale. Email him at email@example.com for complete details. Five cabins are still available.
Mike’s daily column is made possible by AmaWaterways.