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Starwood: social media customer service done right — or, has SM eaten our brains?

Starwood: social media customer service done right | VentureBeat.

This story is bizarre on so many levels I can hardly start. Without reading it, although it’s worth the read, the short form is: boy goes to hotel, hotel internet slow, boy tweets hotel that internet is slow, hotel sends wine and chocolates. Boy then writes comment on Venturebeat.

So, what’s wrong with this?

First of all, why is it that if the internet is slow — or, let’s say doesn’t work, or perhaps the toilet is broken — and the guest calls down to “guest services,” or “anywhere, anytime,” or whatever, the best that happens is that the internet gets fixed (and maybe, just maybe, on a good day, in the summer, when the sun shines, the hotel will waive the daily internet fee for one day), or the toilet gets fixed, and that’s the end of it. But when it’s tweeted, no matter how minor the transgression, the hotel spends real money to give wine and bon-bons to the poor, suffering guest? (sorry, long sentence, tweet me and I’ll send you something to make it all better).

Are we really moving into a world where customer service is only available on the threat of global humiliation by means of twitter? I know of people who have this figured out and rather than fill out comment cards, tweet their comments to the world in general, certain that they will get a quick response and some disproportionate compensation. Hell, I know of people who do this even when there is nothing wrong with the service or accommodation, simply so they can get another 300 or 400 SPG points or whatever. Then, they negotiate the number of points on Twitter.

But, there’s more!

As you can see, the offer from the hotel was beer and snacks (shabby chic!) or wine and strawberries (traditional decadence). Rakesh (if I may call him that) asked for wine and strawberries. The hotel delivered, wine and chocolates! Hello!

I know not what this means, except that something has gone awfully awry: the obsession with social media has reached the point where response to guest issues is completely disproportionate to the problem and waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay out of whack with non-social media hotel responses. Of course, if, as is likely, the guest in question fell into the Starwood super-regular guest category, and the whole thing had nothing to do with guest service but everything to do with high-yield customer retention, then it’s just confusing and distorting)

Whatever it is, it will lead to tears. Mark my words.

Filed under: Hospitality and Tourism, Uncategorized, , , ,

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