Is Your Website Talking to Your Call Center?
By John Federman CEO, eStara | January 27, 2012
Since the internet allows people to comprehensively search for the lowest prices, some have said that customer loyalty in the travel and hospitality business is an outdated notion. I wholeheartedly disagree with that statement. Loyal customers remain the lifeblood of the industry.
However, the convenience and efficiency of the Web has lead to laziness on the part of many tasked with servicing customers.
In the past, whenever a customer had a question online, companies were quick to offer them FAQs, and perhaps an email address. While these self-help strategies are fine for handling routine questions, they are ineffective at turning undecided prospects into customers. The days of using the Web as an interactive brochure are long gone. Hotels need to do much more to assure they turn online lookers into bookers. In addition, now that the competition is just a click away, customers will not hesitate to leave your site (and your brand) if they do not get quick resolution to their problems.
As humans, we strive for personal connections within each facet of our lives. We frequently inhabit places we are not only familiar with, but that also recognize us and enjoy our presence.
Hotels.com utilizes real-time web analytics and customer behavior patterns to identify high-value customers. With this information in hand, they can offer their most coveted clients special rates and also give them a chance to speak with a customer service representative to answer their questions. Companies that reach out to customers during key points in the sales transaction with useful information differentiate their offerings from competitors and turn themselves into a destination site.
Once a loyal customer is identified, Hotels.com can tailor their site's offerings to suit that particular person's preferences. For instance, if the customer frequently stays in a the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel during the winter while they ski in Colorado at Steamboat Springs, Hotels.com can offer the person a discounted rate based solely on their buying history. Marketing strategies that reward customers' brand loyalty with exclusive bargains always rewarded themselves through increased web site traffic, bolstered online revenues and, possibly most importantly, happy customers turning into company evangelists.