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42% of customers expect a response within one hour.
Thursday, 10th July 2014
Source : Lodging Interactive
Customer service and the way your guests reach out is changing: Are you tuned in to where the conversations are taking place? Or are you waiting by a phone that isn’t ringing?

Simply having a presence on social media isn’t enough anymore -- having a strong, consistent presence to handle requests, complaints, questions and kudos is what guests and consumers expect and they expect it now. Guests are doing more than calling or emailing your property to ask questions and they are going beyond sharing their stay experience on established review sites.

A brand’s online responsibility is much greater than picking up the phone, browsing your inbox and responding to reviews to keep your guests happy and your online reputation in check.

"Consumers want to feel engaged with your hotel and they expect that when they have an issue, it will be addressed and resolved quickly and amicably over social media channels," said DJ Vallauri, Lodging Interactive founder and president. "Studies show that those who use the social channels to vent their frustration expect to have a bigger voice than those who use traditional complaint-resolution processes. In most cases, the people complaining on social media are doing so because the company already failed to satisfy them using one or more of the traditional customer service channels."

Hotel brands need to respond to a changing model of how consumers reach out for customer service care by implementing “proactive listening” on social media channels, specifically Twitter, in order to find and respond in the timeframe and manner that meets guests’ expectations.

However, finding the staff to enter into customer engagement is a challenge, especially since social media doesn’t have ‘business hours’ and most users post their aggravations in the evenings or on weekends when staff is either at a minimum or are too busy to monitor social channels.

Lodging Interactive, a digital marketing and social media engagement agency exclusively servicing the hospitality industry, has developed a service that provides hotels with 24/7 social listening and customer engagement services 365 days a year. Called Social Voices powered by CoMMingle, the new service enlists teams of social listening agents to proactively scour social media channels. Social listening agents, on the hotel's behalf, address inquiries, questions or potentially negative situations with haste to prevent them from escalating and potentially going viral or being posted on TripAdvisor and Yelp.

"Fear and a lack of human resources are two main reasons why companies don't respond to social media complaints," said Vallauri. "Our clients tell us all the time that they ignore negative tweets and posts because they are afraid that the complaint will be magnified en masse. Just the opposite is true. Responding to negative tweets actually makes customers less irate and it prevents further issues from popping up on social review sites and by enlisting the help of Lodging Interactive's social listening agents, staffing is no longer an issue."

A number of recent studies into consumer’s social media habits show that many reach out to brands anticipating a nearly instantaneous response, regardless of the time of day or day of the week, something few brands are prepared to handle.

Consider these statistics:

Despite a five-hour decrease in response time from last year, companies are still taking more than a business day, more than nine hours, to reply. (Social Baker’s Social Devoted Report)

42% of consumers complaining via social media expect a 60-minute response time. 32% expect a response within 30 minutes. (The Social Habit)

57% of people who post a complaint on social media expect the same response time at night and on weekends as they would receive during normal business hours. (The Social Habit)

There is proof in recent findings that engaging consumers goes a long way. Although 71% of all of companies are ignoring customer complaints on Twitter, according to a recent Maritz and Evolve24 study, an overwhelming majority of the percentage that did receive a direct response from companies liked the answer they received or loved the simple fact that the company replied.

"As hospitality professionals, hotel operators need to always be on the lookout for negative feedback," Vallauri said. "By addressing social media messages immediately, hoteliers go beyond neutralizing a potential issue to foster positive relationships with their guests simply by acknowledging and responding promptly. Lodging Interactive’s Social Voices service provides 24/7/365 always on social listening and customer engagement which we believe is key to providing superior social customer service in this constantly connected world we live in."

To learn more about Social Voices and how the service can help you turn potentially negative guest experiences into positive social engagement, visit www.socialvoices.com.

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