Managing customer relationships is a procedure undertaken by companies to oversee, track and organize every interaction between a customer and organization throughout customer lifecycle. It is an integral part of customer relationship management. Further, it is practice of designing and reacting to customer interaction to meet or exceed customer expectation. Thus, it increases customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy that is a continuous processes required by the firms to implement various new technologies which helps to accomplish goals. In this report the company is chosen is Thomas Cook, is a British global travel company formed on 19th june2007. The group owns large number of tour operators, as well as airlines based in United Kingdom. This report is going to analyses need, expectation of market segments and customer experience map to create business opportunities as well as to optimize customer touch point. Moreover, investigating impacts effects of digital technology in customer relationship by examining its effect in tourism industry. Further, analyzing service strategies and communication to effectively meet customer experience management (van Veluw and Chance, 2014)
Understanding value and importance of need wants and preferences of targeted groups in hospitality industry
A target market is basically defined group of customer or organization most likely to buy a particular company’s product and services. In this market buyers are likely focuses on need wants of customer and marketing efforts are done to reach the targeted consumer. Thomas cook is targeting youths, families, business tours etc. They has partnered with YHA Australia to offer budget accommodation throughout its UK’s high street travel retail networks. There are certain benefits and importance of needs wants and preferences for travel and tourism industry. By dividing the market into segments Thomas cook will easily understand need and wants of customer. As segmentation supports business in meeting and exceeding need and wants of their customers. The importance of understanding needs , wants and preferences of target customer are as follows:
- Target marketing serves both consumer and organisation. Thomas cook analysis perception of consumer according to their needs and wants, which they are looking forward in the services and quality of product.
- Thomas Cook differentiate its brand from other competitors as they are focusing on different target customer groups such as families, youth and business tours. It help the organisation to clearly identify the needs and wants of specific target customer. Thus, it become easy for an organisation to fulfil the demands by unique selling propositions.
- It also leads Thomas cook to improve the quality of products and services in a new way according to preferences of a specific customer requirements. As it help to understand deeply the target customer.
- Thomas cook stay focused on the customer requirements with various marketing strategies as to understand need, wants and preferences of specific customer. That clearly understands necessity of each and every customer needs.
Different factors that drive and influences customer engagement of different target customer groups
Customer engagement means by which a company creates relationship with its customer base to foster brand loyalty and awareness. It is a business communication connection between consumer and organization through various channels of correspondence. Thomas cook has been able to build strong customer engagement by its product and services. Customer engagement depends on different target customer groups such as youngsters, businessman, and families. Though there are certain factors that are influencing customer engagement in tourism sector they are as follows:
Businessman- Demand for the necessities depend on the type of target group. Businessman normally wants conveyance facilities and food facilities at the time of tour. Thomas cook should analyse the need for business man and provide those services which results in their engagement.
Families- When people enjoys weekends with families their requirement is different. They want special facilities for enjoyment, proper decorum room require a tour guide with themselves which can guide them and helps ion enjoying tour.
Youngsters- Customer engagement factors for youngsters may be different. They want facilities for bike, car on rent to enjoy the trip. Along with it also needs a good variety of disco and pub for recreational purpose. This will help the tourist to get attracted and helps the comnpany in customer engagement.
Thomas cook should analyse these factors of targeting different customer groups and drives customer engagement.
Reviewing customer engagement factors by determining customer on board strategies of different target group of customers
Make all communication clear – To attract any customer group whether it’s a family, youngsters or even businesspersons, it is crucial for companies like Thomas Cook to keep the communication clear. The guests must be communicated well about the services the firm has to offer and must emphasize on spontaneous assistance to address customers’ needs and enhance their experience.
Interest your customer: The main agenda of Thomas Cook must be to keep the customers engaged by developing their interests. For instance, the firm could use various leisure activities for engaging families and could organise various parties with energetic music and good food to interest youngsters to stay associated with them for long term.
Evaluate a broad range of different target customer groups’ needs and expectations in terms of customer engagement for service sector organisations
Customer engagement is the process of determining the relationship between the company and its respective tourist (Rochat, 2014).Tourist those who are from different target customer groups have different expectations. Customers needs and expectations are different according to their needs. Thomas cook should identify the needs of different target groups to determine customer engagement. Needs of the businessman, youngsters, families are different as they provide them facilities . This would help them to makes the tourist happy by satisfying those needs. It should cater different prospects of needs to the different target groups. This would motivate them to choose tour from Thomas cook with cater needs according to the target groups.
Creating a customer experience map
A customer experience map is a visual tool which helps in identifying and organising experience of customers so that touch points can be ascertained and remedial actions for enhancement can be taken. Thomas Cook is a large scale company which operates in tourism industry and has served numerous clients. Creating this type of map can help them understand the method by which customer interact with the company. It is an framework which directs towards increased customer satisfaction, loyalty and retention (Baron-Cohen, Tager-Flusberg and Lombardo, 2013.). Customer experience map for Thomas Cook is developed below:
Thomas Cook is a multinational company which operates online as well as offline. This company provides ample of services due to which customers find it difficult to complete their complicated booking process. While booking online, customer face issues regarding compatibility of company website as it is encountered that website and application of Thomas Cook is not compatible with various smart devices.
Thomas Cook provides pre organised tours due to which numerous customer find it comfortable as they do not have to make an additional effort. But it has been also encountered by some customers that they are unable to communicate with local public during the tour due to safety measures set by Thomas Cook.
This company usually provide expensive tour packages due to which few customers even get dissatisfied.
Typically customer feel delighted after the tour as they receive their tour album. Once the trip is over, Thomas Cook even provides after your services which is their competitive advantage as well.
Discussing touch points which create opportunities throughout the customer experience in Thomas Cook
Touch points are the interaction tool of customer experience map which helps an organisation like Thomas Cook to ascertain mediums from which they can communicate with their customers. Thomas Cook is a service provider which deliver quality tour packages and other travel services to their clients. In order to communicate with the customer, there are various touch points which are mentioned below using customer experience map:
Pre sales support medium, Website and application of Thomas Cook, Tour booking page, tour details page.
Tour guide, details of itinerary and schedule.
Photo album, post tour support channel.
The above touch points are classified into different sections according to the phases in which company communicate with their clients using these points. These tools helps in creating business opportunities which increases profitability and productivity of an organisation. There are various ways by which, touch points create business opportunities throughout the customer experience. Pre sale support such as website and application helps in building an integrated platform where customers can research about the company by reviewing the website information such as past experiences of customers, vision, mission and future group tours. This communication can help in building business opportunities of mouth publicity which is considered as most effective way of marketing and promotion. The second touch point of Thomas Cook is your guide which helps in interacting with clients during tour period. This is the most crucial touch point of travel industry companies as this point provides various business opportunities of attaining high customer satisfaction. Another touch point which relates to third phase of Thomas Cook is picture album and after tour services. This touch point opens up opportunities of building a relationship with clients so that they can prefer same tour operator for their next trip as well (Cozolino, 2014).
Charting the customer journey which explains customer experience
Touch points are the crucial stages at which company like Thomas Cook can grab various business opportunities. But in order to create and grab these opportunities, it is important to take reliable and accurate actions. These actions should be taken for every touch point which relates to different operational phases. These actions are mentioned below using customer experience map:
Thomas Cook should use advanced searching technique along with planning check list so that no customer has to face complications while booking an tour package.
Tour guide must be clear and concise. The tour support team and guide must be at client service so that safety at the phase of your duration must be ensured and opportunities of high client satisfaction can be attained.
Attractive and easy album must be presented to clients so that a trust can be build and opportunity of future preferences can be grabbed.
Customer touch points which are identified above are the crucial points which can help in influencing actions and behaviour of customer. It is necessary to optimise these touch points so that customers can be satisfied and can take actions which can positively result for the company such as good mouth publicity. By optimising touch point of photo album, Thomas Cook can achieve positive responses from the clients about their experiences during the trip (Mischel, 2014).
Examining digital technology in managing customer experiences in travel and tourism industry
Digital customer relationship management is the use of internet communication channels and technology to enhance customer relationship management. CRM approach helps to manage the interaction with customers and clients also. This helps to manage data and accounts of customers. It helps in sales management, deliver insights of customers, connect with social media and helps in communication with the clients. It helps in mobility of data and access the apps into system. It helps in keep customers information up to date and track the customers taste and preferences. It enhance improve customer relationship in the group of people .It not only provide an organisation a clear picture of each customer habit’s, preferences but also personalized the automated messaging easier. Thomas cook has opted various digital technologies in their travel are as follows:
- Integration of internet: Thomas cook has adopted a pivotal role in transformation of travel sectors. Over last decade, creating new business ideas around everything sharing economy to the mobile apps. Customers directly link with the internet it gives the exact information of the activities. People of the whole world connected with each other and share the information to others with the help of integration of internet.
- Virtual reality is changing the game: Thomas cook has adopted its origin in the gaming market. Today the tourism industry has looming implications in travel and tourism industry. With immersive experiences that are already available that creates offer and opportunities to see insight or enjoy exotic adventures. Without leaving comforts of their own space. Due to virtual reality a customer can know about places and spots by virtually that helps in accessing about place and activities information. Virtual reality helps in book all the activities with medium of internet and consumers become techno savvy.
Digital Technology helps in giving the experience to customers by providing connectivity to customers. It helps in giving pleasant experience to customers. It provides virtuosity to customers. The changing CRM system helps in association of the customer with data and information connect with them. CRM system helps in measuring customer loyalty and benchmarking data to compare the organization performance in Thomas Cook. It helps in mapping the channel tool and connect the hotels and travel destinations with the consumers. It gives reviews and support back up to customers so that they judge the experience of others.
Evaluation of how digital technologies employed in managing the customer experience within the service sector are changing CRM systems
Recently, travel and tourism industry has been subjected to a digital transformation and firms have employed various digital technologies to enhance the CRM systems. With such extensive use of internet, Thomas Cook has developed an agile IT department that has provided the firm with features like customer databases, data analysis, etc. The firm could now access a 360-degree view of their customers and develop strategies accordingly (Padmavathy, Balaji and Sivakumar, 2012).
With use of VR technologies, the firm has developed a more personalised approach to effectively manage their customer relationships. Customers witnessing the experience is really encouraging them to associate themselves with the firm and is allowing the firm to retain its customers and build a long lasting relationship.
Evaluating the advantage and disadvantage of customer relationship management.
Customer relationship is the marketing process of establish a strong base and continuous appealing customer retention. The CRM is very important for travel and tourism sector for influencing customers to buy packages. With the advanced in latest technology consumer has gained good experience. It helps in saving time and cost of user. CRM has positive and negative effect for retaining user at Thomas Cook which is described below:
The customer can buy packages at any time with help of application and website which save time, cost and at single click all information can be retained. This is advantage of CRM in Thomas Cook for retaining their regular visitors. Similarly, with this latest technology less interaction with real owner of hotels and others so it create negative impact on customers. It also bring less interactive and communicative with managers. So this is cons of CRM with new technology at Thomas Cook.
The system of CRM should be effective enough to handle each and every customers and visitors of company. In this it create positive as well as negative results.
Illustrating customer service strategies in Thomas Cook
Customer service strategies are the plans of developing tools and techniques which can help in providing services to customers. Thomas Cook is a large scale company which has various customer service strategies which are mentioned below:
Proactive customer service - Every company operating in tourism industry is providing customer services to their clients and in order to attain competitive advantage, Thomas Cook has decided to provide proactive customer service. Under this strategy, Thomas Cook has appointed a different section of individuals who are responsible only for providing 24*7 customer services to their clients. This strategy even includes client services at all the phases of operation such as pre tour, during tour and post tour. Main aim of this strategy is to attain high customer satisfaction.
Defining right culture - Every company has its own culture which is followed by every employee of that organisation (Sathish and Venkatesakumar, 2011). Thomas Cook is one of the largest company operating in travel and tourism industry and in order to influence their clients, they have adopted diverse culture. Under this strategy, they have decided to adopt a culture according to the demographic location they are operating in. Policy which is used under this strategy is correct vision and mission.
Collecting customer feedback - This is considered as one of the most effective strategy for customers service. Under this strategy, Thomas Cook attain feedback from their customers so that they can provide better services next time. Main aim of this strategy is to provide reliable and satisfactory services to their clients.
Creating an emotional connection - Under this strategy, Thomas Cook make efforts to develop an emotional connection with their clients so that maximum satisfactory services can be provided. This strategy aims to provide high brand equity to get company (Hassenzahl, 2018).
Demonstrating customer service strategies that create and develop the customer experience in a way that meets the needs of customer and businesses standards
Customer service strategies which are mentioned above have the main aim to attain high satisfaction of customers and develop the experience of those customers. Using these strategies, Thomas Cook can meet requirements of customer and can also fulfil required business standards. Strategy of feedback helps this organisation to attain their standard of performance review so that all the parameters set of the customer experience can be achieved. By using another strategy of building an emotional relationship with clients can help in achieving need of customer of highest satisfaction. Along with both of these strategies, other planned techniques such as proactive customer service and defining right culture can help in achieving organisational goals of high profitability. As culture is a strategy which helps in gaining trust of clients which will ultimately results in high sales and then enhancement of profitability. The strategies which are mentioned above are applied by Thomas Cook in their operations so that requirements of customers as well as of company can be attained (Horney, 2013).
Review the application of customer service strategies of Thomas Cook
According to Sheng and Teo (2012), it has analysed that Thomas Cook has formulated effective strategies for giving right and amazing services to its customers. It includes getting feedback from customers on regular basis for better improvement, define right culture at workplace, maintain long time connection with tourists etc. These policies help in increasing customer base of this company.
Recommendation for improvement for developing a customer experience
Developing connection with customers on media channels help managers of Thomas Cook in identifying their needs and giving them information about packages as well. For better improvement and development of customer experience, it is recommended to this company to launch mobile phone applications. It will help in promoting business by giving timely information about discounts and amazing offers to travellers for enhancing their experience.
From the above project report it has been concluded that managing customer experienceis a crucial task to perform specifically under an organisation which operates in hospitality industry like Thomas Cook. By developing and creating customer experience map, opportunities as well as actions are ascertained which can be beneficial for the business. Several strategies relating to this industry has also been identified which concluded that customer service mainly aims to attain high satisfaction so that brand equity can be build and profitability can be maximised. Target group analysis has also been conducted in this project report from which it has been observed that target customer engagement drive the high customer satisfaction in an organisation.
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