Hotels constantly strive to improve customer experiences, but sometimes things go awry. Their customers take to social media or online review sites like Tripadvisor.com to complain about every little thing they didn’t like.
Bad service. Dirty bathrooms. Too noisy. Small rooms. Broken lights.
Many of these problems could have been fixed if the customer had complained while at the hotel rather than later when they had returned home. In his commentary on the state of the American hotel industry on hotelexecutive.com, Geoff Dutton points out that the bad reviews people write are customer failures. And he thinks text messaging could be a way to avoid those failures.
To see why, you have to think about why people don’t complain while it’s happening. Travelers are often busy and don’t want to be put on hold, or be asked to wait for a return call. In some cases people just don’t want to make a fuss, be singled out, or deal with a potential conflict. Here’s a quote taken from a recent review on Tripadvisor.com for a hotel in London:
“We felt disrespected to a point that we were so upset I would have lost my cool if I had complained to a manager. In all honesty I just wanted to leave and felt saddened by how bad service was.”
Offering a text message service solely for guests to send complaints or service requests to is a modern way to help these customers help themselves and you.
It helps customers by:
- Providing a quick way to send a request without waiting on hold or in line for the manager.
- While not totally anonymous, a text message is much less confrontational than an in person or over the phone conversation.
- Gives the customer time to compose a thoughtful comment and potentially diffuse any anger about the situation by the time a solution arrives.
- Ultimately they will have a better experience as their issues are resolved.
It helps hotels by:
- Engaging customers while still at the hotel where they can effect a happy solution.
- Reduce the amount of negative comments reported on social media and online review sites.
- Consolidating complaints and requests into a single list to make them easier to track and resolve.
But beyond these reasons, Mr. Dutton makes a good case for why text messaging could work to help the entire organisation:
“At its most basic level, a text based engagement model provides a direct line from the guest to the manager. It offers the opportunity for every guest to become a mystery shopper. We deem this quality “ambient accountability:” when every employee knows that there is a direct line to management, magically the public bathrooms are cleaner, guest interaction is more positive and guest requests are responded to more quickly.”
He goes on to say text messaging could become a “real time training tool” for the operations team. Using text messaging for customer engagement is a win-win situation for all.