When many brands consider social and digital strategy, it stems from the desire to build awareness through both hard and soft sell creative messaging. What many fail to consider, and ultimately fail to authentically capture, is the ability to create an engaging dialogue with their consumers from a guest service and hospitality perspective. With 1 in 3 social media users turning to digital platforms to voice their service concerns, it's imperative a brand understands and embraces the notion that each and every one of its social channels is in fact a customer service hotline.*
Consider approaching social media from the mindset that it is a two-way street. Just as your messaging, your offers, and your promotions have a path to reach your customers, so too do the experiences, opinions, and reviews of those who engage with and use your product. Can this be intimidating? Of course. You are bound to hear the good and bad, the beautiful and the ugly, and even the over-the-top and sometimes, untrue. But imagine how inauthentic it looks when the only messages coming from you are sales driven, while all guest service complaints (and even compliments) go unnoticed.
As you build out your social media strategy and monthly or weekly content calendars, remember to leverage guest service AND hospitality as areas of focus. What does this look like?
As a brand, how do you handle guest complaints, and compliments, and what does your reply process look like? This is more than just "reply to guests" and actually provides your Community Manager or Guest Services Manager with a roadmap to success. It doesn't have to be as flushed out as a Brand Guide, but can operate in a manner similar, explaining the tone, diction, and timeliness of service replies and recovery.
Prepare to apologize...AND make it right. It's true - an apology goes a long way. But many times, it's not enough. As a brand, you have the ability to win a guest over by making a positive impact if something negative happens. Get creative about the ways you can leave your mark with a "nice touch".
Never close the conversation completely. This is one area where we've seen many brands drop the ball. You've just had an open, DIRECT dialogue with a consumer and you've made it right - so why, now, would you close the conversation and never interact again? This is your chance to go the extra mile, and check-in weeks, months down the road. The overall trust you will gain and happiness you create will establish a lifelong customer and, more importantly, a brand advocate.
* - Social Media Today, January 2017