Like much of central Iowa last week -- I was away on Spring Break. Our trip had a rocky start, to say the least. We get off the plane in Jamaica and head to the Sandals desk, assuming they're going to help us identify the bus that will take us to our selected resort so the fun can begin.
Instead, when we get to the desk we're told that they oversold our resort (the family one) and instead, we're going to be staying at the Couples Only resort.
Now, when you're a dad who is traveling with his daughter and her boyfriend -- this is the definition of awkward.
They grab our luggage and put us on a van. Now what?
We're in a foreign country, in a moving vehicle, heading for a resort I do not want us at, I don't have the resort's phone number and I need some help sorting this mess out. And I don't really want to wait until we get to the wrong resort.
Fortunately -- the van has wifi. So I search for the Sandals twitter account and send them a couple tweets -- saying I am very unhappy about how this customer service issue is being handled.
Voila....I get a tweet back, asking me to DM them. (Which was smart -- demonstrate to everyone who is watching that you're listening but then move the complaint offline or to a more private venue).
Within a few tweets, the general manager has been alerted and will be waiting for me when we get off the van.
The story has a happy ending. We're at the resort we originally booked and the weather and ocean are gorgeous... so all is well.
But, my story raises the question -- how are your customers reaching out to you and are you listening for them? Sandals was clearly monitoring their account/Twitter and very quickly defused a problem.
But so many organizations look at vehicles like Twitter and Facebook as a broadcast medium. They put their information out there like they're shouting through a bullhorn. But they don't bother to listen to see if anyone is talking back.
That's a dangerous practice. You need to be monitoring any social channels you're on in real time (you don't have to sit in front of your computer -- just use one of the many monitoring tools that send updates to your phone) so that when your customers use those tools to get your attention -- you're actually paying attention.
It used to be that if a customer had a question or complaint, they either sent a letter or called. Then, we added websites and suddenly they could communicate to us through contact forms or email addresses. And now -- there's social channels.
When someone is having trouble -- they're going to use whichever tool they think will get the swiftest response from you. Which is why social is a natural choice.
So what do you think it says to them if you're not listening.