Hotel how-to: handling bad customer experience
It's all about getting second chances right when it comes to customer service in the hotel sector.
May 25, 2011 3:23 by Sidra Tariq
A positive review is often replied to with a “thank you” and “come again,” but the challenge comes when responding to a negative comment. And often, just a “We’re sorry” doesn’t cut it. Halery says before posting a response, the hotel tries to get the contact details of the reviewer or customer, and contacts him or her directly to find out the reason behind the bad experience. “And then we provide them a similar compensation after investigation if it is something that’s our fault.” The hotel would compensate the guest for the next stay or provide an upgrade stay for the next time, he says.
Fraser says that the Raffles Dubai would also make sure a direct contact is made, and compensate the guest for the next stay in some way.
However, we are all aware of the phrase: Once bitten twice shy. So if a guest has a bad experience at a hotel, there are chances that he or she will not return, even if the management offers complimentary stuff for the next stay. “If that is the circumstance, then we’ll offer a refund to the guest on the present day,” says Halery.
“One of the worst things hotels can do is ignore reviews, whether positive or negative,” says Tuqan. She adds that hotels should try and take the conversation offline by contacting the customer directly but should follow up publicly (on the site). “Essentially, they need to demonstrate that they listen and care about customer service.”
DO WE NEED TO SAY IT? THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT.
Hotels should not post a standard feedback for all customer reviews, says Tuqan. “That is just lazy. If you are going to have the time to respond you should do so in a way that is personal. People these days are very media savvy. They can see through a standard response or a key message.” She adds that an ideal response would be posted within 24 hours.
Tuqan says a “no-brainer” is not to argue with the customer. “But you’d be surprised how often this comes up.”
She suggests that “even before [brands] start engaging in social media, they should consider auditing their social media presences to find out what are the hot spots and soft spots with regards to their brand presence.”
Tuqan adds that brands should also claim their official social media (and TripAdvisor) pages.
“We do a lot of social media audit per year and ongoing social media monitoring. A problem that brands often encounter is that by the time they get around to setting up their social media channels online, we find that there are existing Facebook pages bearing the hotel’s names, there are 12 Foursquare check ins, there’s a TripAdvisor site that is not owned by them but is claiming to be them, and that’s what we call social media sprawl. It is something that presents a challenge for the brand, and they really have to work hard to gain their presence back and to prove themselves, to prove that their presence is the one that is credible. So claiming their spaces is very important.”
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