Technology has empowered customers in ways we never would have imagined ten years ago. Heck, we probably could not have imagined it last week. With the touch of a few buttons, customers can have all the information they want at their fingertips and often “know” more than we might about a particular destination—and that’s alright.
Also, they also can decimate a business with a few taps on their phone with a negative review, or worse. This scenario is even harsher for smaller agencies with fewer reviews—the negative ones will stand out!
Keeping up with technology isn’t easy. As a business owner, you need to think about not only managing your reputation but how to get the attention of potential clients 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 travel special.
We have access to a wealth of information. Share it. See an article on TRO? Share it. Did hear a speech at a function that is relevant? Grab a transcript or video and share it! 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 your clients’ opinions. Everyone loves to feel valued.
Create a poll so customers can vote on some questions of the day you develop. 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 Your Customer Support
Are you offering help and support through your social media channels? If not… why not?
You should be sure to offer support through each channel you use. It must be a bi-directional relationship. 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.
People use different platforms for different things. 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 their support line during particular hours, they just ticked me off! If I have a more immediate concern and I know the company is on their social media game, I will reach out via Twitter.
Great customer service is essential these days. One bad experience and everyone will know about it.
Try 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! However, a finely crafted email around the current hot weather and the need to escape to a place they enjoyed before is completely in order!
Also, be sure to touch your clients for no reason at all at least six times a year. No pitch. Just a quick hello or well wishes. Remember, 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 the 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 turned them off? You might discover a disproportionate number of people from Minot, ND finds your site. Maybe you need to get a billboard in Minot.
Don’t see the value? Here’s a real-life example. I operate a local (non-travel) community news 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. It was an unusual combination to me and they were spending a lot less time on the site. My 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 further suggested they subscribe to my emailed newsletter, and many did. The result? Traffic increased, subscribers to the newsletter increased, and not a section of my county that usually feels out of the loop is included.
Today’s tech can be your friend or foe. If you are using it, embrace it and make sure that you are at least aware of the capabilities—proficiency can come later!