Most companies sell a product or a service. In the Travel Industry the customer is often more interested in looking for an experience, more so now than ever before. Travellers have changed, 20 years ago they would be happy to simply see the Eiffel Tower, now they want to climb to the top. Barlow & Stewart (Branded Customer Service) state that companies selling a product or service will probably be known as a supplier or vendor whereas companies that sell a vision or experience will begin to develop a brand.
Frederick Newell (Why CRM doesn’t work) believes that today’s best companies select one of five attributes (price, product, service, experience, access) to dominate the competition, a second on which to differentiate, and at least meet the industry standard on the other three. Given that many travel companies already have a great product which is competitively priced and readily accessible, service and experience therefore become key areas to focus on.
Again quoting from Frederick Newell (loyalty.com), customers do not want to be treated equally – they want to be treated individually. He also argues that you can’t buy loyalty, most people already have a number of loyalty cards, in the store everyone has a loyalty card so customers don’t feel that they are treated any differently, and studies have shown that in countries where more stores offer loyalty cards the customers are more likely to switch stores.
This means that customer engagement is key. A service needs to be provided at each touch-point in the business process and each touch-point needs to become richer, more experiential, and add value from the customer’s perspective. However, this doesn’t mean that the same level of service or customer experience should be applied to everyone. Different customer segments will attach varying levels of value from their perspective to the various offerings. Understanding these consumer values and the relative importance to each customer segment and ensuring that the appropriate levels of service and customer experience are communicated and delivered to each segment is key to building loyalty.
In order to identify and understand the various customer segments a comprehensive customer profile is essential. Microsoft Dynamics CRM with its wide range of off-the-shelf functionality along with the ability to extend and customise the solution to meet the individual needs of each organisation provides the ideal platform for capturing information from all touch-points throughout the business process. As well as providing improved visibility of key business metrics and improved efficiency and productivity of key business processes, this information is at the heart of the increased levels of service and customer experience required to build customer loyalty.
Alan Cox - Senior CRM Consultant
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Want to know what tours your customers prefer? Find out more about CRM Travel.