Choosing a travel CRM system.

The six elements for travel agents and tour operators to consider when choosing a CRM system.

By Luke Francis19th April 2018

Organisations, in the travel industry or in any other industry, need to understand their customers and to keep a record of all interactions with that customer to grow. Because as the customer, and its behaviours evolve, the need for the organsiation to evolve follows. This is where Customer Relationship Management (CRM) steps in.

What is a CRM?

CRM software was originally designed to help businesses build and maintain relationships with new and existing customers. Since then, the definition of CRM has become so wildly different company to company, industry to industry, that there is not one definition of what a CRM is.

  • Is it a tool to manage clients?
  • Is it a tool to manage marketing communications?
  • Is it used for sales or accounting?
  • Is it a tool to manage operations or workflow?
  • For us, CRM has evolved to serve one core purpose, to give the ability to have all key information about customers in one place – a Single Customer View (SCV). All functions of a CRM branch from this SCV.

    Choosing a CRM system.

    When picking a CRM product, we believe that companies need to look at six areas to both determine the suitability of the system to their business and ensure a system is chosen which is ready for the future.

  • Putting the customer first.
  • Data driven.
  • Customer intelligence.
  • Flexibility.
  • Workflow.
  • Automation.
  • Putting the customer first.

    Have all important client information in one place is the foundation of any CRM or SCV system. It is important to bring together disparate data into one central view to make the most of it.

    Once this data is in one place in a structured way, it can allow other CRM functionality to be used to improve customer service, customer engagement and create selling opportunities.

    Giving teams from Marketing to Sales to Operations use of this data will help improve customer knowledge all CRM to be used to distribute knowledge so all teams can.

    Data driven.

    As above it is essential to create a data driven CRM. Use the system as a data store for all information about a customer. We split customer information into two categories:

    1. Customer Information – this is static data, anything that a customer is. This can be a name, location, interest, market segment or any piece of enrichment data.

    2. Activity / Events – this is time-based data, anything that happens to a customer. Where this is something they do like an online booking or something done on their behalf like a "Welcome Home" email, if it happens there should be a historical record for it.

    When talking about data, the first step is always to introduce a process to automate data collection from any source where possible – websites, e-commerce systems, reservation systems, email tools. This will provide the quantitate base for the data. From that base, a CRM can be used to enhance customer knowledge with human knowledge and expertise.

    Customer intelligence.

    Once this base is created, this can be used to give teams intelligence about a customer. Defining what you need to know about a customer is an important part of constructing CRM requirements. An example of a requirement here might be to know more about a client before a call centre agent answer the phone:

    • Empower users with information about the customer before they call - their purchases, preferences, open complaints/issues, average value.
    • Use machine learning to predict call purpose - is the caller calling to book? Is it a customer service query?
    • Use product recommendations to help tailor information for the customer based on their history and preferences.
      • Flexibility.

        Flexibility is essential with a CRM system. We know that one size does not fit all and compromises to business process make software uptake harder to achieve.

        It is important to understand why a CRM is needed. What is the business benefit? What are the use cases? To ensure the system will get maximum uptake, there are three areas to look at:

      • Power CRM using your data – as in the data section this is essential.
      • Tailor the solution – find what you need to suit your use cases, and tailor the solution to fill any gaps.
      • Customise the interface – the smallest changes in terminology or workflow can affect user adoption. Where possibly change the interface to use terminology familiar to users and map out an optimised version of a familiar workflow.

    Workflow.

    Workflow is the key to user adoption of CRM. CRM can be used as a tool to manage clients, leads, complaints, enquiries, communication and much more, but it should be done in a way that is intuitive to users. We see three steps in achieving this:

    1. Create user stories – Understand the workflow as it stands and how the business can optimise it.

    2. Get user input - Understand user frustrations and where improvements can be made.

    3. Reporting - It is important to monitor users and introduce reporting/KPIs to help understand CRM effectiveness.

    Automation.

    Whether it is data, workflow, marketing - where possible – automate. Below are some examples of where this can be done:

    Data – Create real-time or frequent data drops from other systems.

    Workflow - Auto create tasks to make sure nothing is forgotten.

    Marketing - Automate personalised marketing to avoid shotgun emailing.

    Choosing a CRM system isn't the first step to a successful CRM strategy. The first step would be to define that strategy, and then choose the right CRM system that can make that strategy a reality.

    The Inspiretec CRM system, Holistic, is built specifically for the travel industry, where its features are geared for the interactions and marketing needs of travel agents, tour operators and OTAs. For a chat about your CRM strategy, and for a demo of Holsitic, get in touch.

    Discover further CRM insights on how to make an omnichannel approach happen and increase customer loyalty in other Inspiretec blog posts.