CRM for a Travel Agency

Written By Vishal Mehra

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First and foremost the basic question I get asked is, Why do i need a CRM?

A CRM or Customer Relationship Management is a tool which every Organisation should be using. It doesn’t matter if you are a Start up, a one Man army or an Organisation with a Sizeable workforce. As a matter of fact if you have a Business, you absolutely should be using a CRM.

CRM somehow creates a dreaded feeling, I have seen people lose sleep over it. There are a tons of Questions what people, Questions about the cost usability if the team would adapt to it. To be honest not every company needs a Salesforce or a SAP solution, these cost an arm and a leg, plus there is a cost of deployment and maintenance etc.

CRM lets you record all your customer details, Transactions/Deals, Interactions and tasks you need to do to close the sale/Business. which means that by using the tools available within the CRM you are able to become better organised. No more spreadsheets to be filled in, no more worrying where the team kept the crucial piece of Information about a customer/lead. Also even if a team member leaves all your data stays intact and there is always a continuity with your customer/lead.

CRM – An Overview

CRM = Customer Relationship Management.  Pretty straightforward right? Not really, as more and more technology is added more solutions presented, we tend to search for a Tool which can do everything that concerns our Customers.

Mapping all details of the Client: Companies should focus on gathering as much information as possible when it comes to Clients. This helps in creating a better understanding/Profile of the Client. When you capture as much information as you can and your CRM is capable of linking to the Social Media the customers data is accesible with ease. Adding an Email to the profile ensures that when you send the Emails to the clients it get’s mapped automatically to the client profile which helps in understanding the Journey and flow of clients lifecycle with you. In case of Corporate clients, always enter all email addresses, this ensures that you always have all the correspondence from everyone in the same place. Having the Mobile / Contact number in the profile reduces time it takes to search for it when needed and easier to log calls from Mobiles (discussed below in more detail)

Ability to track the emails, This is a must do for all the CRM’s. Track when your emails are opened. This is a great feature which can change the way you convert your deals. Let’s take an example, you have that one big deal stuck and you send an email to the client, the CRM would tell you once the email has been opened. You get a prompt on your Phone and Computer. Once you have the prompt you can call up and ask the client what he thinks. If he says he hasn’t read it, you know he is avoiding you and the deal may not come through, other case is if you call him when he has just read it, the deal is hot and you have a good chance of closing it. So make sure your emails are tracked.

The Ability to create deals (Package / Airfare etc bought by the customer) Every booking goes through its own lifecycle, Under a CRM these are usually called Deals. A good CRM would give you the the option of customising the stages of Deals so that these are better suited to your company. Let’s say your customer journey is typically,

Query Received | Query Sent to Supplier | Quote sent to Client | Follow up with Client | Amendment received | Requote requested | Amendment sent to client | Booking Received | Booking sent to Supplier | Confirmation received from Supplier | Confirmation sent to the Client | Payment Received from Client | Deal Won and Closed.

If the CRM lets you customise the stages you have an excellent overview of where you are with your Bookings and ensures that there is proper follow up which can be done at each stage as needed.

From the sales people’s perspective, this helps you in knowing which query is stuck at which stage, which has a higher likelihood of converting, where you need to put more effort and where you may want your supervisor to have a chat with the client or Supplier as needed. From the Manager’s perspective, this builds an automated pipeline which tells him in real time if the team is on track or not.

Let’s say that the Manager sees that the number of Queries is too low, he can speak with Marketing to turn on the Tap for more leads or if queries are stuck at a stage where clients have despite 2 amendments not confirmed, he/she maybe relook at the pricing or have a meeting with his salespeople. The tweaks start happening in real time and everyone knows at the right time where they stand vis a vie the Goal. Some CRM’s let you define your Targets (Goals) for the Year and each time a Sale is closed you know how far you are from your target. This takes the Guesswork out, thus creating a real-time revenue map.

Tasks should be easily created from within the Client profile. This is pretty self-explanatory. The CRM can easily replace your calendar app or sync with your calendar app. Using tasks you can define actions which have to be done at a certain time of the day or on certain days. let’ say You have that all important client whom you have to call at a particular time on a particular day. Sure your calendar can do this, but it may or may not sync with your CRM and no guarantee that it would log it with the client’s profile. However, creating the same in CRM from within the client profile helps you with 2 things. A) It is logged in with the client profile B) It reminds you of the time when you to call on your phone as well as your computer.

A good CRM should also be able to tell you when was the last time you spoke to your customers. If the Customers are the backbone of your Business, shouldn’t you be in touch with them regularly? Sometimes out of Sight is really out of mind. Remember, there are a lot of people wanting the Business of the client so you have to create a top of mind recall. One of the ways of doing this was mentioned by me in the earlier short e-book about Email Marketing, It’s called drip marketing. If you have combined drip marketing with CRM and despite that you are not hearing from customers, the System would notify you and you can always call up the client and check with them. This would also help you know if your customer is still loyal or has gone cold. For your Corporate clients, this would be a great way of knowing if you are losing Business to the competition. Let’s say you usually got emails once a week from a Corporate and haven’t heard from them in a couple of weeks, rather than wait for accounts to tell you that this client is underperforming this month, CRM would automatically prompt you and ensure that you take corrective action immediately rather than wait a month.

Your CRM should also have an IOS and Android App: We live, breathe and literally sleep with our phones today. Probably the last thing you see before you shut your eyes and first thing you see when you open them again in the morning. So isn’t it important that CRM is also available to you as an app. This is especially helpful for the sales people as they are very often on the go. Rather than saving all the information in your address book if you had this on the CRM you could call by pulling up the information from CRM and also have the ability to log all your calls (Some CRM’s automatically log them). This ways you don’t have to a) remember every call you did while on the go b) log in all the information in real time from the app. Now imagine if you had a colleague who was your sales support and was able to view the information as you logged it (All CRM’s have dashboards for this reason, so that you can see incoming information) they would be able to create a solution/schedule a follow up or whatever action is needed instantly. Answers go back quicker, If your deals are enabled and being used correctly the pipeline would change automatically and you don’t have to enter this once you go back (the chances of forgetting this always increase 15 minutes after the call)

The Ability to Scrape information or connect with Social Media especially linkedin is a big help and let’s you build a 360 Vision of your Client. Imagine if you had as much information about your client as possible, knew the client’s personal habits and your crm was linked to the Social Media profile you could fine tune your offerings and when you had something new which matched the client activity you could offer it to the client without delay. (Set a trigger in your crm to send an alert if a match is found) As an example your client regularly posts his walking/fitness activity on social media and you made a Package which is an Active Holiday, it matches what your client’s profile. If you were to share this with your client, the chances of this being sold now or later are high. There are very few CRM systems which can do this but do this a few can

Basic Automation and an ability to create Templates. so that your repetitive tasks are made redundant. We all hate those repetitive tasks, Usually people copy and paste these and sometimes the formatting is maintained but more often than not it is lost. What if your CRM could do this for you? It actually can. So you have to send a follow-up email to your 10 Clients from whom you have not heard in a few weeks and the very task makes you cringe. Don’t despair, there is an Easier way to do this, set up an Email Template with predefined text. Next time you want to send an email, just pick from a Template and Voila you are done. Different departments can do this using their pre-defined templates. So you have time at hand and have to email a client next week when your schedule looks tight, so write your email and set up a time delay. I use this feature all the time. I usually set it up on weekends when I catch up on pending tasks and set up emails which are shot out over the course of the week to the clients and prospects at their time. In Today’s day and age if you are not using automation you are wasting far too much of your productive time which you could be spending doing other revenue generating tasks or with your family.

Proper Reporting Structure so that reports can be made with ease. Most of us know that the Senior Management of companies needs periodic reports. If your organisation had a CRM with reporting they don’t need to bother you or you can email the same with ease, remember your pipelines are always actual. Your prospects, your confirmed business is all logged in. It makes for better reporting and finance is always aware of the actual figures and inflow and outflow.

Website integration to capture leads. This is a feature that I would not want to live without. Till I didn’t know-of it and I was happy and didn’t care much for it. Now i know of it I expect this from every CRM. I have the opportunity of setting up not only lead capture (remember the Money is in the list and Emails are the best way to generate Business and staying in touch) but also the Tracking code on the website, I am now aware of who has visited the website and from where and it helps to know which pages get most hits and from where. As any Webmaster would tell you, this information is worth its weight in Gold and shared with marketing they would know how to retarget the clients. (retargeting and converting customers is a part of my paid services so am happy to discuss but only if you want to retain me)

Now comes the Question which one should you go with? 

FREE Solution: Go with Hubspot CRM, it is a) Pretty robust and b) Despite being free it lets you store 1 Million records. No Frills but it integrates with your email and lets you do everything I have described above. 

Paid Solution: Go With Pipedrive. Pipedrive is the best investment you will make for your Business, I recommend going with the Gold Plan costs about US$ 25 per user per month if paid annually upfront but the workflow automation, the tracking of emails and rich features it has are worth the price in Gold. You can sign up for a 14 days free trial by visiting Pipedrive or you could use my link which gets you 30 days of Trial. Try it for a full month and then decide if it has made your life easier. Special link. If you have already signed up for the 14 days trial and want to extend it just shoot me an email and I would give you the code which extends it to 30 days. It is highly recommended that your email be on Gsuite then you can really unleash it fully. By syncing all your emails (going back 6 months) in the Gold Plan you can actually create client records and using smart data search you can pull information from Linkedin as well. 

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