Published on Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Customer service expert Mario Dolcezza of Diciamo explains why it's vital travel agency staff don't ignore complaints made via social media and gives his tips on how to deal with them.
"Social media can be damaging to any companies’ reputation but travel agencies are at particular risk because often the customer experience is out of their hands. For example, if a customer doesn't like the hotel an agent has booked for them, it reflects badly on the agent.
These days people are far more savvy at sharing their bad experiences online. In the past people may have returned from a holiday and told a few friends that they had a bad time, now people can do this via social media, sharing it with far more people. Worse, they can do this while they are on holiday and feeling most angry about the situation.
In order to overcome this problem I would advise travel companies to actively engage their customers in feedback, rather than waiting for people to share their grievances online. Pre-empt negative feedback by asking for it directly.
The key with social media is to react positively and respond clearly. Give the customer easy ways and modern channels to post their concerns and be sure to reply.
When I first started working with clients many made the mistake of trying to counteract negative feedback by hiding it among positive feedback from the families and friends from staff, but customers aren’t stupid. It is much more effective to acknowledge the problem and show people that you are doing something about it.
I suggest travel agency staff take the following steps:
Proactively seek customer feedback.
Respond to the customer’s complaint as quickly as possible, apologise and be sympathetic.
Take ownership of the problem by letting them know your name and how they can contact you and giving them your direct number if possible.
Manage expectations by letting them know what you’re going to do and when. A structured plan of resolution gives them a sense that their problems are being taken seriously.
Customers don’t expect companies to be perfect, but they do expect you to fix things when they go wrong. Social media gives travel agencies the chance to show that they do this and that they care about their customers. "
Diciamo has created a customer feedback tool, Your Impressions™ Waves, which integrates multiple sources of customer feedback, including social media, in one single location. Mario Dolcezza will be hosting a live Twitter event at www.twitter.com/diciamouk next Tuesday from 11.00hrs to 11.30hrs, during which he will answer any questions from travel agencies about dealing with customer service via social media.
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The recent insolvency of Low Cost Travel Group, one of the large players in the travel industry had a big impact on the travelers, hotels and all related players from both wholesale & retail arms. There were about 27,000 people on a holiday who had booked through the company comprised of a €200 million wholesale arm and €500 million OTA / retail arm.