What I've Learned From Amazon.com

Have you ever purchased something from Amazon.com? If so, have you noticed their follow-up process? If I’ve bought something that was shipped through an outside vendor, and not through Amazon’s own facilities, I receive an e-mail within days of delivery asking me to rate the experience. I also get periodic e-mails from them with suggestions of items I might be interested in purchasing, based on my past buying habits. (This only freaks me out occasionally when I feel as if someone is actually watching me a bit too closely, but I tend to not let that bother me.) I’m also able to easily track the delivery of my purchases online and can even see which city the package is in and when it was loaded on the truck for delivery. Talk about a customized experience.

Of course, all is not perfect in the world of Amazon. The one time this online facility failed me was when a very expensive computer I had ordered wasn’t delivered and I needed to speak to a real live person. This didn’t seem to fit naturally with their business plan at all—in fact, I finally had to call Information to obtain a customer service number because it’s not easily found on their site. When I called the number, I was switched over to someone in a faraway country who was reading from a script. After putting me on hold for some time, she put me through to a UPS representative back here in the U.S., who told me he couldn’t help me and, to be honest, he sounded rather joyful about it.

But that was only that one time and I have to admit, I’ve become an Amazon.com junkie of sorts, ordering all sorts of items from it that I could purchase from the grocery or drugstore or even the mall. Why do I do it? It saves me time and I know the price I’m getting is pretty close to getting a deal, which is part of my mantra for a happy life.

Of course, there is a lesson to be learned here for travel retailers, for whenever it’s easy and stress-free to do business with a vendor, that vendor will win the lion’s share of the business.

Do you track your clients’ travel and make every effort to unearth new experiences that will intrigue and delight them? Do you send them these suggestions in a way that is easy for them to receive and easy for them to respond to? Is it easy for your clients to reach a real live person when they need to, or is there a wall that goes up when their particular agent is not in the office that day or is traveling on a fam?

Social Networking at Its Best
By the way, another thing I love about Amazon.com is the ability that customers have to rate the product they are currently viewing. It certainly helps when you’re trying to determine whether that desk chair that’s portrayed in a three-inch photo is the right height and quality that you’re looking for, and then you scroll down to read that the last person who purchased the same item thought it was totally bogus and returned it because the product description said it was leather but it was really plastic. It’s very empowering to feel you’ve just been rescued from making an uninformed decision.

Which brings me to another thought. Have you considered the possibility of allowing clients to have the ability to blog on your website? Perhaps they can post photos of their trip so that others could read about their experiences. It would drive traffic to your site and certainly make for a good read. Ensemble Travel is enabling its agents to do just that and expects to have some real-life experiences to relate in the near future. Stand by!


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