Customer Service in the Digital Age
Check out these three strategies for responding to reviews online.
Guests regularly take to the Internet to voice their opinions about a stay experience, both positive and negative, and responding to these reviews has become an integral part of what the resort and vacation industries consider part of their customer service. And it’s a very visible service, too. “Customer service is now a spectator sport,” says Jay Baer, author of Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers. Other potential guests can see how properties respond, making it all the more important that resorts approach online feedback strategically. Research by ReviewTrackers suggests that 51.7 percent of customers think brands should answer negative reviews in seven days or less. Twenty-one percent look for a response within 24 hours, and 24.6 percent within three days.
RCI Ventures® magazine asked Baer, social media consultant Brian Honigman, and Dave Thomas, associate manager of global e-commerce and digital marketing at RCI, for their top tips for handling customer reviews online.
- Respond to everything you can.
In an ideal world, brands should respond to every review, whether positive or negative. Research in Hug Your Haters shows that replying to feedback increases a traveler’s advocacy for the brand by 25 percent, but not answering decreases advocacy by as much as 50 percent. Don’t forget to acknowledge praise. “Responding to a positive comment shows everyone paying attention that you’re actively listening and willing to have a dialogue,” says Honigman.
However, it’s not always possible to answer everyone. “Volume can be a concern,” Thomas says, “so the priority should be owned channels and negativity on review sites.” Similarly, Honigman recommends conducting an audit to see where your customer base is most active and focusing on those channels.
- Be human.
All online customer interactions should be personal and not appear scripted. “When people scroll down, you have to be cautious so they don’t see that the response is almost word-for-word each time,” Baer says. A human tone is especially important for complaints. Responses should be authentic, include an apology and concisely explain how the situation will be fixed, Honigman advises. Afterward, it’s okay to move an exchange to a private channel if there’s a lot of back-and-forth.
- Embrace feedback.
Negative comments can be incredibly valuable. “The people who are complaining are your most important customers because criticism is the raw material for improvement,” Baer says. With that in mind, don’t hesitate to solicit reviews. “Properties can encourage guests to post reviews and questions online via traditional marketing or signage,” Thomas says. “Resorts can also send post-stay emails that prompt guests to review their experiences.”
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