Cheating clients are turning up everywhere these days. Isn’t it irritating to learn that one of your valued clients booked with somebody else? You may even feel personally insulted, but I think you might be too quick to put the blame them!
Whose fault is it really? Since we don’t own a client, they are free to go away at anytime with anybody. Do you think it is a customer’s obligation to keep coming back? Or is it our duty as travel agents to give them no reasons to stray and lots of reasons to stay? I believe it is the latter. A client is ours to lose. Customer loyalty can’t ever be assumed—and once it is, it’s gone. If a client has cheated on you lately, conduct this self-examination to understand why. The truth shall be revealed!
How long ago did you last talk? Understand that what may seem like a short period of time for you, may be perceived as far too long by your client. It is easy to get laser focused on the next big ticket on our plate and then fail to look back. Without reminders in place, time passes and the “older” client feels abandoned. These days, generic emails don’t cut it. Phone calls and letters do. Did they cheat on you because they believed you no longer love them?
Did your last correspondence end on a less-than-happy note? Think about the very last conversation you had with your client. Did it feel great when they said good-bye? Or was it not the most pleasant interaction? Perhaps you didn’t give much weight to it and hung up. You moved on but they couldn’t let go of the feeling of being underwhelmed. Did they cheat on you because you weren’t listening hard enough to pick up on their low enthusiasm?
How did you answer the phone last time? In three seconds flat your client will know if you are grateful to receive their call or not. Here’s a spin on a popular movie quote that demonstrates the risk of answering poorly, “You lost me at hello!” If a client feels they have bothered or interrupted your day, they will let you tend to your other more important business and will hesitate to call back again. Did they cheat on you because you accidentally answered with no passion, enthusiasm or gratitude in your voice?
Did you welcome them home after their last trip? Travel professionals who are in the habit of welcoming clients home swiftly and consistently achieve the highest levels of customer loyalty. That shows gratitude and a sincere concern that you delivered a successful vacation and achieved a happy client. If you worked hard before the trip, then work even harder after the trip. Clients expect to hear from you, and like it or not that is an innate expectation. Did they cheat on you because you put more importance on seeing them off and then turning them off your radar?
Did you make yourself part of the experience? Consumers have tens of thousands of booking options these days. Positioning yourself as a remarkably good part of the total vacation experience is critical. This differentiates you from all the others. Accept that the booking process is very much a part of the total experience. What can you do to stand out and be memorable and invaluable? Did your client cheat on you because they found the pre- and post-vacation experience to be unremarkable, forgettable and replaceable?
Were you surprised to hear what kind of trip they booked with somebody else? Perhaps your client truly loves you and never meant to cheat. In fact, they eagerly shared their new travel booking experience, with no thought about how you might feel. A client may believe that you cannot book a certain product or had no expertise in that area. That’s why they sought out another agent who had branded herself appropriately. Meanwhile, you know you could have handled that booking very well. You assumed they knew. They assumed you did not. Did your client cheat on you because you never asked if they had other interests, or you never told them about your other qualifications?
It is possible that a small universe of consumers make it a habit of never booking with the same agency twice. I believe that most of us would rather do business repeatedly with people we like and trust. I believe in loyalty and I am convinced that clients don’t cheat on us when they feel prized!