I read an article last week by Janet Fouts talking about her frustration with a hotel’s customer service using social media. I thought she brought up some very good points, and highly recommend reading her point of view.
The basic gist is to be sure that you are ready before you begin to offer customer service over your social networks. It seems like common sense, but I can see how it could easily be overlooked or forgotten over time.
When a guest uses social media to reach out about a complaint or even just a simple question, they do expect a timely answer. They also expect the answer to cover the problem. All too often, the answer makes the problem worse. In the example contained in the link, the hotel did respond asking for her contact information, but never contacted her again. They took a bad situation and made it worse by using Twitter to make it appear to the public that they were helping her when they never actually did anything about it. I’ve experienced quite a few “overly canned” responses to problems and those always annoy as well. You aren’t expected to draft a new novel for every guest concern, but an obvious copy and paste reply won’t earn you much love.
Another mistake is ignoring it altogether. All potential guests can see your response or lack thereof, which doesn’t bode well for their service expectations. Not to mention the opportunity to showcase your property’s high standards that you miss out on when you aren’t engaging online.
So before you use social media as a customer service tool, be sure that you are 100% ready to take it on. You’ll need someone assigned to respond at least during working hours, if not 24 hours a day, depending on your particular property. Your social media team should consist of customer service experts, and should have power to make things right with guests. There should be a backup plan in place in case anything gets out of hand. This could be a list of managers to call and the use of the DM feature to try to move the conversation to a more private medium.
Finally, if your customer service on social media isn’t something you’re ready for just yet, that’s all right. Just include the appropriate contact information right in your bio so it’s easy to find, and be sure that your social media team knows to direct all concerns to a specific email address or phone number.