Author: Lisanne Wiendels
The toughest challenge organizations face in Customer Engagement Management nowadays is multichannel management. Multichannel management refers to the organizations ability to interact with its customers through multiple channels which can be both direct and indirect. These direct and indirect channels are used to sell goods and services to customers (SAS,2015). The channels can be categorized as the Physical arena, Digital arena and the Social-media arena. The three arenas are of great importance in the multichannel marketing strategy of a Tour Operator as it is important to be where your customers are and nowadays customers make use of different arenas or sometimes multiple arenas. To briefly explain the difference between the arenas, the Physical arena is where the customers have direct contact with the organization which is case of the Tour Operator can be a travel agency. The Digital arena has to do with the visitation of the website, email traffic, and finally the social media arenas focuses on the Social media engagement of its customers which for example include Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. The main goal of multichannel management is finding ways to increase profit margins and revenue through customer contact, while at the same time improving the channels accessibility, offering a better customer experience and reducing the costs of the channel infrastructure (Peelen, E., & Beltman,2013).
in order to answer the question whether or not multichannel marketing has made customer engagement for Tour Operators easier it is important to revise what Customer Engagement is. Van Doorn, J et al (2010), describes Customer Engagement as the management of the customers’ behavioral manifestation towards a brand or firm, resulting from a motivational driver. The key elements in customer engagement are the building and maintenance of a relationship, create customer loyalty, engagement, creation of a customer database and multichannelling. Customer engagement management is a complex process and includes many elements therefor it may be hard to establish a simple yes or no to the questions whether or not Multichannel marketing has made customer engagement easier for Tour Operators.
The different channels of the Physical, Digital and Social media arenas provide the customers different ways of communicating with the organization and can significantly affect the revenue and cost structure of the organisation (Peelen, E., & Beltman, 2013) however with offering the clients the opportunity to contact and reach out the organization through many different channels brings along some challenges. One of the challenges is for example targeted messaging this has to do with the fact that the customers have the opportunity to choose many different channels to engage with the Tour Operator, therefor it is hard for Tour Operators to deliver the right message to right audience. The customer must receive the message, but moreover the message has to be attentive receptive and the customer must be willing to act on it. Another challenge Tour Operators face is marketing response attribution. This has to do with the difficulty to know which channels, campaigns or sequence of touch points contributed to qualifies conversations and sales. Knowing what triggered each response would enable marketers to assess whether or not their marketing efforts were getting the best results (SAS,2015).
In addition the popularity and usage of certain social media platforms, such as Facebook can change and might play a different role for the customers overtime. According to JSH&A (2015) which is marketing communication agency in Chicago USA has researched the change in Social media usage, they have found that Facebook is no longer the key platform for customer engagement. Social media platform like Pinterest, Tumbler and Instagram gained more than 10 million followers in 2014. This shows that the Social media landscape is ever changing and other ways need to be found to effective channel and maintain social presence with customers in order to engage with them.
The usage of an analytic system such as Google Analytics will allow organization to look in to what triggered the customer to visit the website. For example Google Analytics allows the organization to see how many people entered the website through a certain link for example a Winter sport package campaign and monitor the online customer journey. A recent development at TUI Ireland and UK is the introduction of the Pegasystem Connect Platform which allows the organization to see the same data on customers through online, call centre and in-store channels, allowing staff to provide a personalized service by recognizing loyal customers more effectively. Which initially means that TUI has created an effective way to gain insight on where customers are located the Pyramid of relationships (Dataiq,2014). This shows that having an analytical program for a Tour Operator is important as it will increase customer knowledge and relationships.
Because of the complexity of Customer engagement and multichannel marketing we can conclude that in order for multichannel marketing to be a success knowledge on how to use the channels is important it also is of great importance to monitor if customers preference in channel changes and act on that accordingly. In the long run this will have a positive effect on customer engagement as knowledge is power.
Dataiq. (2014). TUI overhauls its data strategy boost customer engagement. Retrieved from: http://www.dataiq.co.uk/news/20140828/tui-overhauls-its-data-strategy-boost-customer-engagement
Frankwatching. Social media marketing trends 2015. Retrieved from: http://www.frankwatching.com/archive/2015/01/09/5-social-media-marketing-trends-voor-2015-infographic/
Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. Part IV Marketing. In E. Peelen, & R. Beltman, Customer Relationship Management (Vol. 2, pp. 216-225). United Kingdom: Pearson Education Limited.
SAS. (2015). Multichannel marketing. Retrieved from: http://www.sas.com/en_us/insights/marketing/multichannel-marketing.html
Van Doorn, J. et al (2010) Customer engagement behaviour: Theoretical foundations and research directions. Journal of Service Research 13(3): 253-266