Service Lapse Recovery Requires Local Accountability

By Richard D. Hanks Chairman and President, Mindshare Technologies | May 19, 2010

People have an innate need to connect to each other. It's what drives us to be close to our families and friends. For some, this desire includes the businesses with whom they commonly associate. It's likely that your regular customers see your business as a friend and as part of the community, even though you may be one of hundreds of franchises. Think of young mother playgroups at McDonalds, or groups of college students frequently gathering at Starbucks. These customers are vital for obvious reasons, such as recurring revenue and positive word-of-mouth marketing. Theirs is a devotion that goes further than simple brand loyalty; it's much more personal than that. Your main job is to keep them happy, which isn't actually that difficult...until you mess up.

Face it, customers who regularly purchase goods or services from you will eventually run into a problem. While you may be tempted to assume that they'll overlook one faulty product, you shouldn't take it lightly. In fact, keeping these customers happy should be of the highest priority, and any complaints they have should be treated with urgency.

Addressing Customer Complaints

The good news is that a swift resolution can create even stronger bonds between you and your customers, because you're showing them that they are important to you and that their happiness is a high priority. In my experiences over the years, I've found four keys to properly addressing customer complaints:

  1. Give them a convenient forum to voice their complaint.
  2. Find a system that alerts you immediately to urgent concerns.
  3. Respond immediately!
  4. Respond on the local level

The notion is to discover the issue and act quickly on the local level. If the problem isn't resolved in a satisfactory manner you risk losing a lifetime customer.

Let me share a scenario that illustrates these four keys in action: Every Friday evening a woman stops at her neighborhood pizza chain (which happens to be a franchise) on her way home from work. One night she finds that her pizza is uncooked in the center. Upset, she seeks a way to voice her complaint with the pizzeria.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.