Acquiring, and more important maintaining a customer, all starts from the first impression a customer remembers the company by. This starts at the very first beginning when customers are trying to figure out which direction they want to go in regarding to the cruise industry.
According to Peelen et al. (1996) there are several phases before a customer declines or commits to a product and/or service, which is called the relationship life-cycle. These phases are exploration, growth, saturation, decline/commitment. Naturally the exploration phase is the first phase a customer goes through when starting to search for a product and/or service where the first impression takes place. Peelen et al. (2013) also mentions the fact that the first introduction a vital impression leaves on the relationship between the customer and the company, which takes place in the exploration phase.
Figure: the relationship life-cycle (Peelen et al., 1996)
How companies treats their potential customers is nowadays a very crucial factor as there are a variety of different options to choose from, especially in the cruise ships sector as it is a rapidly growing business.
Individuals with social skills are vital in relationship-oriented businesses. These involves individuals working in a call centre, individuals in the administration department, service staff, representatives, etc. These people need to have the skills and knowledge of communicating with customers on invoices, product information, complaints, purchases, etc. (Peelen et al, 2013).
Furthermore, Patrick Henry (2014) made it very clear in his talk about his first trip to Starbucks how important first impressions are in regarding to creating a loyal and a happy customer. He mentioned that if his first experience with Starbucks had been better, he’d probably been more eager to continue coming to Starbucks. However the woman behind the counter had missed the opportunity of just doing that.
Henry Griffith (2016) stated that customers demand better service and that the most important factor is to keep customers satisfied. Moreover, she also mentioned that consumers nowadays have the choice to switch between brands, especially in the tourism sector. This is because in the tourism sector, more specifically in the cruise ships sector, a lot of variety is between companies, therefore starting off with a good impression is crucial as a business strategy.
The key thing to remember when thinking about business strategy is, and I quote: “If there is a choice, people want to do business with friends, people want to buy from people whom they like, people want to buy from people whom they trust” from Patrick Henry (2014).
Henry, P. (2014). First trip to Starbucks. Retrieved from https://elo.nhtv.nl/CMS/_STUDYROUTE_FOLDERS/10/ITMC%20-%20Year%204%20-%20Specialisation/ITMC%20-%20Courses/ITMC%20-%20Courses%20-%202016-2017/14202/CITM4oCEM%20-%202016-2017%20-%20Customer%20Engagement%20Management/50981F49-AD7E-49FF-A0F9-744E9B3A0B61/ee4306f4/Patrick%20Henry-First%20trip%20to%20Starbucks.htm
Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer relationship management (2nd ed.). United Kingdom: Pearson.