Photo: Blue Diamond Gallery
Are you among the many agencies using CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software as nothing more than “a glorified address book?”
You are not alone, Joanne C. Wilson, founder and CEO of Mississauga, Ontario-based The Trainer’s Advisory Network Ltd. told travel agents at the Travel Marketplace show in Toronto last week. With more than 130 CRM software products available, it’s no wonder so many agents are confused and confounded.
Indeed, “user adoption is the hardest part,” said Wilson, who has trained customers for over 20 years.
There are many reasons to use a CRM system: records of interaction, improved travel service, knowing your travel client better, sharing information, being more efficient, marketing better, reducing costs, getting travel clients, cross-selling, and increasing profits. Keeping a record of conversations and transactions will only help you do your job better and more efficiently. Track your client’s requests,and log meetings, phone calls, and emails so information can be found quickly, and you are more prepared for conversations with prospects and clients.
“Agents need to find a way to insert themselves into that research process. So if I owned a travel agency, I’d say you have to snuggle up to your customers. Get a good CRM [customer relationship management system]," said Zane Kerby, president of the American Society of Travel Agents. "It’s really, really important. Agents may have tacit knowledge of their customers, but I don’t get the sense that it is written down and codified.”
CRMs can also be useful in sending out itineraries in one click; tracking records of reservations; invoicing; client contact reminders; tracking marketing, promotion and social media campaigns and responses; and even generating business leads.
Some CRM applications can be downloaded free from the internet; while they may be limited in the tasks they can perform, they offer a good way to get started. With the advance in recent technology users have the option of a cloud-based CRM system, so you don’t have to purchase and maintain expensive servers, software, or back-up solutions; you can start with just a browser. Zoho is one such cloud-based CRM application.
If you prefer to keep your data onsite, GoldMine, Maximizer, and Act are three popular CRM software applications.
Wilson pointed out many ways to leverage the CRM application including: Engage with your website visitors; connect your web form with CRM, never miss a client activity; stay on top of your deals; track your competition; track your sales quota versus attainment; find out what’s the latest with your prospects and customers; go mobile, take CRM with you; and have all your sales and marketing documents in one place.
Creating and maintaining an information-filled CRM system is necessary for knowing your clients and generating sales and revenue for your agency.