How to Turn Customer Support Into a Sale? – The Omnichannel Way
I spent my last vacation at a beach resort and used an aggregator to book my stay.
My booking mentioned that I could avail 24-hour check-in and check-out. So, when I reached the resort at 9.30 am, I was surprised to hear that the check-in time was 2 pm.
When I showed the reference on the aggregator site, the hotel agreed to do something about it, and they mentioned that it would take about an hour. During our wait, they asked us to tour the property.
We took a tour, and we loved the property. We liked a particular property section with accommodations with beach and pool views. So, we asked the staff if we could check in to one of those rooms.
That’s when our ordeal began.
We were told that it is a room that comes at a cost higher than what we paid.
The difference in cost was 5500 bucks for two nights after discounts. So, I decided to check with the aggregator portal whether I could upgrade my booking for a lower rate.
The customer support executive of the portal said that I would have to cancel my existing booking, which would mean a cancellation charge. Then, I can book the new room separately at a different cost than what I paid. The difference I would have to shell out would be 6300 bucks adding all of this.
I insisted that I was not requesting a cancellation. Instead, I was asking for an upgrade, and they shouldn’t ideally be charging me for cancellation.
It was of no use, as the agent kept apologizing for the situation, and we were told that they could not help me with it.
So, I finally decided to go with the charges that the hotel was asking for the upgrade. The good part is, that I enjoyed my stay at the resort, and the experience was incredible.
However, being in the customer experience industry, this got me thinking.
So, I wrote a long mail to both the hotel and the aggregator on how omnichannel would make things easier.
How Would Omnichannel Help Here?
Ideally, the hotel and the aggregator should be tightly integrated on the availability of rooms, facilities, and discounts.
Imagine the situation where I make the booking, and the aggregator provides me:
- An option to upgrade to a higher-grade room
- A chance to change my booking to some other date
- And an opportunity to look at additional services I can avail myself of during my stay.
This gives additional revenue options for the aggregator besides the hotel getting commitment on the usage of services in advance.
With these options, there would have been no need for me to call up customer support, and I could have done this on the portal itself.
The hotel should also regularly communicate the offers they are willing to throw their guests, based on the availability of facilities and services.
Show Me to Impress
How about adding photographs and videos of the accommodation available and the views from inside the rooms? This would have made me probably switch to the room I eventually chose to stay in.
How Does It End up in a Sale?
As an aggregator, if they had access to upgrades and the hotel’s last-minute discounts, they would have converted my existing sale to a large value sale.
Besides, imagine the aggregator throws me a coupon in addition to the upgrade. Then, I will be their repeat customer, most likely for the long run.
As an aggregator or hotel, if your customer reaches out on chat or text, they don’t expect a human agent at first. Still, they’ll expect a human-like response along with seamless transitions to agents who would be able to address complex issues like what is listed here.
Mine the Data
As a business, you must mine every piece of customer data – past purchases, preferences, buying patterns, and cadence. This would help you send relevant offers to your customers, who are most likely to find them personalized to their liking.
Serving today’s customers isn’t easy, and moving from support to sale is even more challenging. Customers expect customer support to understand their problems and solve them quickly. So, when they get sold, it will not be easy.
The sale has to be seamless and should be part of the process of helping the customers solve their problems.