Last month I wrote about a story that went viral down here when a woman was made to feel uncomfortable by a hair salon that she visited.
And so the woman went straight to social media to “Name and Shame”, as she wrote.
Because the poor little dear was feeling “Mortified” as she said in her Facebook post.
Running to social media in that instant surely must have helped her feel better.
As a result of her venting there was an avalanche of abuse launched digitally upon the salon.
But interestingly, there was a reasonable amount of support for the salon. This is because all too often, in cases like this lady’s story, the business involved in the tale believes the sad plight of the customer and gets taken advantage of and gets left holding the bag….
My point in all this is that although the lady customer was made to feel uncomfortable for the predicament that she actually caused herself and put herself into, her public venting on social media could have had dire consequences for the salon, the salon owner and share holders and employees of the salon who were not directly involved in this lady’s predicament.
As I said to one person, imagine if your daughter worked at that salon and then lost her job because of a marked downturn in business caused by this lady’s public venting. Yet your daughter had no role in that lady’s situation.
The venting by this woman on Social Media created a barrage of abuse of this salon that was so disproportionate in relation to the incident.
The abuse was also very “Lord of the Flies”-ish; it turned into online mob hysteria with hundreds of negative comments being posted on that salon’s social media pages by people who had never ever been to the salon.
My point was and is, that there is a time and place to go to social media, and the way this woman did it was not the correct time and place.
What this woman should have done was to contact the owner of the business to resolve her issues.
Let me share a story with you.
This last weekend gone my wife and I travelled interstate, where she was presenting a workshop.
And as usual, we booked into the hotel that we like to stay at, and where we do stay, most of the time, when we visit this city.
Here’s what happened:
On our arrival, at 3:45pm we were told that our room was still being serviced because the previous occupants had requested a late check-out, and that it would be ready in ten minutes.
We were asked to take a seat in the lounge, which we did, happily.
While we sat there, at least three bar staff asked us whether we would like a beverage.
When we told one of these staff our story, they said they would check on the progress of our room.
Now normally an afternoon beverage would have been quite welcomed, but my wife and I were hoping to quickly drop our belongings into our hotel room and then head off to pick up some booklets she had ordered and then take them to the nearby conference centre where she would be presenting her workshop the next day.
So time was valuable to us at this moment.
Well, twenty-five minutes later, we were still sitting in the lounge, unattended to, so we decided to approach the check-in counter to find out what was happening with our room.
Our concern at this point was that because we were told ten minutes, then it needed to be ten minutes, and not twenty-five minutes and counting, that we were left alone and unattended.
This time at the check-in we spoke with a different lady who explained that our room was still not quite ready.
We asked whether there were any other rooms available for us.
She informed us that we had booked a specific room, a workout room, and there were only two of these rooms in the hotel.
Now, our booking was made through a third party organisation, and I could not remember requesting a “workout room”.
At this point my wife and I were starting to air our disappointments at how long everything was taking, and how our check-in was being not so well managed.
This second attendee then asked us to take a seat because she had “other guests to check in”.
These were her words.
She did call for her supervisor, who came to us to explain to me that I had booked this specific “workout room”.
We suggested that leaving us to sit for so long, considering the initial ten minute estimate, was not good customer service.
Hotel check in is at 300pm.
If the hotel is fully booked, as they told us they were, they should never have allowed the previous guest to have a later check out.
When we mentioned that it would have been nice to have been offered a complimentary beverage while we waited, the manager suggested that the hotel would take care of any drinks that we had consumed.
Trouble was, we did not have any while we waited, and even if we had have wanted to, we had no room number and account to bill the drinks towards.
The manager said that something would be delivered to our room to apologise for the late availability of our room.
She also pointed out that had I not booked through a third party, I would have received better attention. She suggested that next time I should contact her directly, and she handed me her personal business card.
I’ve got to say, at this point I was not feeling as though I would ever return to this hotel.
Our room, when we went to it, contained a full treadmill and a large gym ball and some weights.
Talk about try not to notice the elephant in the room.
I’d imagine that a treadmill might be OK if I was staying there on my own, but as a couple, its use would have certainly taken away some of the ambience of the room.
The room also had a very large verandah attached, which was locked for us, and required us to contact security to open the door, if we needed to access outside.
[We never did]
Anyway, my wife and I headed out to collect her booklets and drop them off to her conference room.
To say we were disappointed with our hotel would have been an understatement.
This is a hotel where we had stayed on many occasions.
We had enjoyed the facilities of the hotel, and its central location.
We had always felt welcome there.
Despite one time our family was trapped in an elevator there for over an hour one visit.
[And if I recall, the only service recovery we received on that occasion was four bottles of water and the kitchen was kept open for us for breakfast (that we missed because we were stuck in their elevator).].
On another occasion, I stayed in a room there where the room lights came on during the night, on a number of nights of my visit.
Like at 200am in the morning.
Hotel maintenance could not solve the issue at the time [in the middle of the night], nor could they solve the issue during regular business trading hours.
[I was compensated slightly (with a small tariff reduction) for my disturbances]
Anyway, back to the present.
When we returned from our errands, to settle down prior to dinner, a hotel staff member arrived at our door to deliver an ice bucket and a bottle of bubbly.
This was a very nice gesture.
When he left the room, we were surprised that the bubbly was a very inexpensive Australian sparkling wine.
Needless to say the wine was not consumed.
The next morning, after helping my wife get set up at her conference facility, I returned to the hotel room and noticed that a business card for the Hotel General Manager had been delivered with the Australian sparkling.
When I Googled the wine I found it available at $7.99 per bottle.
At this point I was definitely not feeling any love at all from our hotel.
And at this point I could have done one of two things….
I could have gone to Social Media and blasted the ineptitude of the hotel. They certainly had dropped the ball on a number of occasions.
But I liked the hotel.
I enjoyed staying there.
And I wanted them to make things better.
I didn’t want to have to find another hotel to stay at.
So, after finishing work that I had to do on my Mac, I decided to phone the General Manager and speak with her personally on my way out to lunch.
She agreed to meet with me immediately.
She was very appreciative of my contacting her, and working through our disappointments. She was very concerned about rectifying the negative events that my wife and I had experienced the day before.
She promised to make good on the bucket of bubbly, with something more suitable.
And she handed me another of her business cards and asked me to contact her personally when we next planned to visit and she would attend to our reservation personally.
I left that meeting confident that things had been resolved.
I felt much better about the outcome than any short-term pleasure I might have felt had I unloaded a barrage of abuse and disappointment on Social Media.
And really, what would have been the point of any of that?
I like this hotel.
I really don’t want to have to go and source out another one.
And though I’ve stayed in several other hotels in that city, on occasions, I’ve definitely stayed at this hotel more times than all the other hotels combined…
I like this hotel.
Anyway, that afternoon, on returning from collecting my wife after her workshop, a surprise awaited us.
There was an ice bucket.
And there was French champagne.
And there was nuts, And chocolate.
And a note.
From the General manager.
Let me say this: Job well done.
“I’ll be back…..”
Why did I decide to give this hotel another chance?
Would you have?
The reason is simple, and this is how it ties back in to your business.
The reason that I went this way to seek a solution, rather than running to my keyboard like a screaming Nancy, is because I already had a significant relationship with this hotel.
When I have already built up a significant brand loyalty, I’m not willing to throw that investment away for five minutes of fame associated with an abusive post or tweet.
It’s because I am solution focused and not problem focused.
Or headline focused.
At this moment I’m reviewing a manuscript for a book written on service.
And I’m a little concerned that there’s a touch too much mention in the manuscript about complaints.
The best way to deal with complaints is to prevent them from happening in the first place, and to have seamless service recovery protocols to swing into action when needed.
The note from the hotel General manager read [in part]:
“We sincerely apologise for the disappointing experience on check in and…. There are no excuses for these inconsistencies; regrettably we simply failed to deliver the service and quality both you and our entire management team expect.”
A great note.
The hotel and I are now onto the next page.
Apology accepted, and very much appreciated.
I do look forward to my next visit there…..
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