This guest post is courtesy of Michael J. Kelly
Chances are your business has at least a few competitors. Since On Call International has been in business, I’ve asked myself—what do customers really want? And how can we stand out from the crowd? After 17+ years of leadership in the travel assistance business, I’ve actually found that it’s not always about snazzy technologies or steep discounts. In fact, our business, which protects the health and safety of more than 18 million travelers each year, not only survives—but thrives—amongst several key players in an extremely niche market. How? By getting back to the basics with some good old fashioned manners and excellent customer service. Here’s how you can do it too:
Tell the truth: Remember that fated day when you found your Christmas gifts from Santa Claus in your parents’ closet? Young or old, no one likes finding out that they’ve been told anything less than the truth. If your business is making fancy guarantees, lofty promises, and aggressive offers—and not delivering on them—how do you think your customers feel? Transparency not only builds trust, but it’s the ethical thing to do. Your chances of keeping a customer who doesn’t trust you over the long-term are very slim.
Here at On Call International, earning and keeping our customers’ trust is something we don’t take lightly. They put their employees’ and travelers’ health and safety in our hands every day, so honesty, integrity and openness are a must. For example, we have a very open pricing structure. We delineate costs up front, so there are no unpleasant surprises later. We’ve also developed a proprietary system so our clients’ designated personnel can view live case notes. If they see something they don’t like or if we make an error, we own up to it—we’re all human and mistakes happen. Plus, it’s a lot easier fixing a problem for a customer if they actually know what the problem is. It really is a win-win for everyone.
Be Flexible: In an ideal world, everything would go according to plan. But this is the real world, and we all know that rarely happens. Think of it this way—do you like spending time with people who refuse to compromise and get bent out of shape even with the smallest change of plans (pizza instead of Chinese, anyone?)? Our lives at work are no exception—customers’ preferences and expectations can change as fast as we can send a tweet! Don’t be the company hyper-focused on yourself. Unless you can be responsive and adapt to clients’ needs, you may get left in the dust.
I recommend adopting a flexible approach with each of your clients and taking the extra time upfront to work out the best co-operation model. This includes a thorough needs analysis and creating a unique solution that specifically aligns with your clients’ objectives and goals. Our customers sometimes ask us to create emergency response protocols that are completely different than how we normally operate. This requires some outside the box thinking, smart resource allocation and sound decisions from upper management. It’s a lot of work, which is why many of our competitors refuse to do it. But we know that “off-the-shelf” travel assistance isn’t always the best answer for our clients. We live in a world of cutthroat competition, and if you’re unwilling to compromise, your buyers will be sure to find someone who will.
Provide Value: Buyers need a reason to select one alternative over another, so it’s important to understand what sets you apart from your rivals. This can be tough to uncover, but your current customers can give you some valuable insights. Engaging customers in these conversations can be difficult—but it’s worth it. These conversations can provide the cornerstone to company strategies and help you deliver value that’s most meaningful to your customers.
In our business, many of our clients have low utilization—meaning their employees’ trips go off without a hitch and they don’t need to call us for assistance. While the peace of mind that our memberships provide is priceless, we try to go one step further. One way we do this is through pre-travel education. This includes making sure travelers know how to use their memberships if they find themselves in an emergency situation, big or small. The last thing we want is for their membership cards to collect dust in their wallets! We can also help members understand travel risks associated with their destinations before they leave—there are many precautions that can help prevent travel emergencies from happening in the first place.
About On Call International:
On Call International is the leading provider of medical, security and travel assistance for business travelers, expatriates, academic institutions and leisure travelers. For over 17 years, we have been assisting our clients to ensure the health, safety and well-being of their global communities through customized travel risk management solutions that fulfill their travel risk management initiatives.
Operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, On Call’s Global Assistance Center offers centralized case management – providing a single-contact solution including access to our multi-lingual assistance coordinators and medical monitoring by our experienced medical team. On Call International’s resources span across 200 countries worldwide and 54 local assistance centers, serving more than 77 million end users annually.