On a recent post comparing OTA’s and traditional travel agencies, we received comments from far and wide offering a variety of opinions on the matter. It was interesting to note that the comments favoured towards the more traditional agencies highlighted one particular element when it came down to human interaction: TRUST.
It’s already the case for most industries that a web presence is required to compete – but for some, the internet can be an intimidating arena and consequently a reason they are yet to transition to the digital world. Another reason could be their current base of loyal customers is built on years of physical and human interaction, word of mouth and recommendations… so how do companies, still holding on to their traditional values, make the leap without diluting or jeopardising their long standing level of trust and quality?
What does your First Impression Look Like?
First impressions count for a lot. When a customer walks into your branch, how do you portray a warm and welcoming image? What information does a new customer need from you that will help them feel at ease with doing business with you? I’m sure you have so many answers to those questions – but – how do you then translate the intangible elements so online customers get the same first impression?
Start with listing down your key values which set you apart. Put them down on paper. Then have a think about what they look like to a customer. Is it a happy, welcoming image? Is it the diversity of your staff with a wealth of knowledge? Think about it even down to the colour scheme of your branch and what makes your customers feel happy when they’re buying from you. Now that you have a list of your key attributes which create the first impression you want, it’s time to get that same image across on your website.
Use branding and images that reflect what you’re all about. Your values, your staff, your customer service. You could even use images of the staff who your existing customers have come to know and love. Be a personality and portray that welcoming image and the trust you rely on.
Once you have the right first impression, you need to look at usability. Customers find it easy to come into the branch and talk to you because you do all of the work for them. If they’re booking online, you need to make sure that their booking experience is as simple as possible too. If you make it difficult, you instantly start to lose their attention.
What do your Customers really think of you?
I know that we’ve said it before, but another way to make sure that you portray the right image online is to use your customer reviews. If other people buy from you and are willing to take the time to shout about their fabulous experience, it will instantly affect the first impression of new customers landing on your site. Customer ratings and reviews count for a lot more these days rather than how many stars a hotel or resort might be officially awarded. That first-hand experience is now a far more valuable and reliable source of information.
Speaking of customers, and their (hopefully) glowing reviews, how do they contact you? Obviously they could still stop by your shop but what about those visiting your website for the first time? Ultimately, you want people to get in touch, therefore, call to actions such as contact information and enquiry features need to be bold and reach out to the visitor, rather than them having to find it. As we said above, it’s important to completely cater for the customer so their online experience is seamless and effortless.
Ever thought about using surveys?
Finally, another great way that you can utilise your valuable customers, is by asking them for their opinion about your site. Ask them to have a look and see what they think. Do they like it? Does it portray your image correctly? What would they do to improve it? You can use tools such as Surveymonkey to collect valuable information like this which you can then really use to your advantage.
We hope that for those of you currently considering a move to online have found this post useful. If you want any extra help about how you can make this transition, please get in touch and we will be very happy to help.