A new year is always an opportunity to think differently and consider how each of us can make a difference – and recent events have got me thinking about random acts of kindness.
As February begins, we continue to think about our plans, commitments and goals for 2017, whether that be personal or career related. We pledge to get fit, eat more healthily and we might have even attempted “dry January” – a commitment which I am sure may have proved taxing for many.
But it is so important that we do make those commitment and pledges to ourselves, in order to keep us focused and ensure success. We encourage all our people to set clear professional objectives for the year ahead – it is what helps us reach our individual and collective goals.
A new year is a time for reflection and Travel Counsellors has seen many areas evolve that affect our industry, particularly in technology and the growth in the digital space. The boundaries between work and home are now blurred more than ever through the use of social media – a sphere in which people share truly personal stories, anecdotes, insights and experiences, and that includes those work related. The boundaries between service providers and customers are also blurry, with customers engaging 24/7 on social media and businesses needing to be ever-vigilant of their online activity.
The “social selling” of services like travel is with us around the clock and interaction on social media has the advantage of being very quick turnaround and enables a personal response. However, the social domain is also one in which professionals can potentially damage their personal brand if they forget that their words, stories and emotions forge an online image of them and the company they represent.
Care is a business approach that can be applied to every aspect of a company – a kind word on social media can win customers and a cruel one lose many. Fundamental to the success of business owners is the understanding that it is not just what you sell that sets you apart, but how you sell it. The customers that have come back to Travel Counsellors to book again this year are doing so because they have kept in touch with our staff and remember how that person made them feel. Acts of kindness are skills that can be honed, and caring about the emotions you evoke in a customer is a business strategy, and a successful one at that.
It is why people in Pret a Manger stores are encouraged to engage in random acts of kindness at least once a day. It is why at Travel Counsellors we encourage care and kindness towards customers, such as Thai cooking classes for those travelling to Thailand, Mickey and Minnie Mouse picking children up from school to go to Disney World or a welcome-home hamper for when the customer returns from holiday. We set up dedicated “Innovation Boards” to encourage talent within the business to come up with new ideas like this, and it was interesting how their ideas around improving customer service focused on how we can be kinder more often and more consistently.
Caring and acts of kindness are not just “nice things to do” – this is a key trend showing a customer that you care like a friend, be that through face to face interaction or sharing such positive stories on social media. It’s a trend that, when it becomes a habit, will ensure your goals in 12 months’ time will be far more stretching and achievable than the ones for this year. And I for one, will drink to that.