You must surely have heard the term ‘customer relationship management’ before. Do you know what is the meaning of this phrase?
If you don’t know what is its meaning then don’t fret; you are not alone. Many people actually practice it without even knowing - what is it. If you are in the travel business then this is even more crucial for you to know. Do you record your customer details. Do you re-use this information to re-sell or cross-sell or even tailor your services? Then you are already putting into practice what Customer relationship management is all about.
At the center of what is ‘customer relationship management’, is a strategy for managing potential and current customer relationships through collection and analysis of information or data. Simply put Customer Relationship Management is how you go about managing customer relationships, knowing that, not all customers are created equal. This means the way you handle your relationship with X is not the same as you would do to handle your relationship with Y.
The underlying principle of what is the constitution of relationship management for customers is very straightforward:
Put the customer first.
Looking through the eyes of a customer is the best practice. When you put yourself in the customer’s shoes, you cannot help but deliver a better customer experience. Think for yourself, would you like to date or have a relationship with someone who is all about himself/herself and does not pay attention to your likes, dislikes and doesn’t do anything to woo you? The same applies for brands and customers. It is like a dating game which matures into a lasting relationship. When you speak the customer tongue, you connect with them on a personal level, which in turn increases loyalty to your company. The following are some noteworthy industry statistics:
- 86% of customers interacting with a brand, will pay even more if they are assured a better customer experience
- Customer centric companies are 60% more profitable than those that aren’t
- 33% customers will switch from brands (even if they love them) if they just one negative experience
The stats are shocking aren’t they? This is the bitter truth of customer relationship management. It takes a good while to nurture and build a relationship with them but it takes just one wrong step for all of it to come crashing down.
CRM vs Customer Relationship Management
Wait a minute! Aren’t they the same? We know these terms are synonymous but more commonly, when people talk about CRM they generally refer to a CRM software or system. What is it? It is a tool which helps with workflow processes, sales and contact management, productivity measures and more. Through such systems, you can select and use different customer relationship management modules and frameworks to detail how you want to approach your customer relationships.
Knowing your Customers: The more you know about your customers, their buying preferences and behavior, the more likely you are to offer what is relevant.
- Customer relationship management software captures and organizes customer data and additionally improves quality of customer interactions.
- It also helps to streamline communication across divisions, makes brand messaging consistent, and helps avoid oversight of conversations.
- Such systems also offer more scope for personalization. By gleaning into data insights, customer journeys and buying patterns, companies can offer more personalized experiences to their customers.
- It also gives companies a better way of understanding customer needs and wants in order to improve the way the product portfolio is offered to them.
More administration, less selling: Without a centralized platform for customer interactions, communications slip through the flood of information – this in turn leads to less than ideal responses to your customer. Details can get lost, meetings are not followed up promptly and prioritizing customers becomes a matter of guess-work rather than a rigorous exercise based on fact. All this gets compounded if a key salesperson leaves the company.
Numbers Speak: According to worldwide studies conducted by Salesforce, CRM applications have a proven track record of increasing -
- Sales by up to 37%
- Sales Productivity by up to 44%
- Forecast accuracy by 48%
How does CRM work?
Although some people think of CRM as just a technology, it is so much more than that. Did you know that 22% of salespeople have never heard of a customer relationship management tool? Again 40% of travel agents still use manual methods, such as spreadsheets and email programs, for customer data storage. Considering that CRM applications can help increase sales by up to 29%, it’s important to understand how to use this technology:
1. It can be a massive pillar to your customer-centric strategy: A CRM system supports a strategy which says that the customer is at the center of everything that you do. Every time a customer interacts with an organization, through any of its channels, the customer has an opportunity to form an opinion –good, bad or ugly. Over time, this collective set of customer experiences forms a mental picture in the customer’s mind. This is what comes to be known as brand image or brand values.
2. Centralizes all your customer data: Customer information includes, and is not limited to, phone numbers, addresses, and last contact made. This information can then be used to manage, measure, and keep track of marketing, sales and customer service or relationship activities. Having access to all data in database means fewer silos within your organization – thus helping you achieve customer centricity.
Customer Relationship Management and Customer Loyalty Programs
Travel agencies are always looking for ways to increase your revenue. The cheapest and the most effective way is not by attracting new customers alone but by engaging with the existing customer base. After all, you already have a relationship with them, they know you and have set expectations which are easier to meet up with.
Again, it is more difficult to attract first time customers, with or without help from technology, and for travel companies to sell to them is actually 5 times more expensive than doing the same for a repeat customer?
Customer loyalty programs are one such avenue that companies around the globe are increasingly adapting to build lasting relationships with their customers. They give new customers a reason to choose you and give existing customers a reason to come back to you. There are many CRM tools that also help implement such customer loyalty programs.
The Right Way To Do Loyalty Programs
We know that the basic outcome expected out of a loyalty program is repeat purchases from existing customers, but only a few are actually successful in building a long and fruitful relationship with their customer that leads to a deeper emotional connect and actual brand loyalty.
This is because most of them are trying to achieve increase in revenue by offering discounts and deals which only contribute to short-term goals. When such a traveler gets a higher incentive from another loyalty program, he/she will easily exit. The only way to develop long-term loyalty in customers is by cultivating an attitude of gratitude in them towards your brand. This will happen only when the customer himself will feel appreciated.
So, how can you make the customer feel appreciated? You can do this by understanding the customer need and management of their willingness.
When JetBlue airline using technology, realized that most of their customers who travel with them, book tickets for economy class and that 75% of them are ready to pay for extra travel services, they came up with this solution: they offered customers ways to earn points by purchasing extra options, like additional baggage or a meal upgrade. On top of that, for every $1 a traveler spent, they awarded 3 points – or 6 points if they purchased online.
Are you also trying to direct more customers to your website? Implementing a similar loyalty program and a little use of technology in the form of a customer relationship management tool can produce similar results.
CRM & the Cloud Computing Revolution:
Perhaps the most significant recent development in CRM systems has been the move to cloud computing. Freed from the need to install software on hundreds or thousands of desktop PCs and mobile devices, organisations worldwide are discovering the benefits of moving data, software and services into a secure online environment.
Work from anywhere: Cloud-based CRM systems, such as TourGenie, mean every user has the same information, all the time. Your sales force out on the road can check data, update it instantly after a meeting or work from anywhere. The same information is available to anyone who needs it, from the sales team to the customer service representatives and can be accessed 24/7.
Customer Relationship Management: Going all out for your customer
Customer relationship management is not a single sprint — it is a marathon. It takes time to develop and nurture lasting customer relationships and this requires sharp focus on improvement of the overall customer experience. The combination of right strategies together with a software to support it, will result in effective customer relationship management.
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