Finding the Opportunities in Online Complaints

By Sherry Heyl Founder & Consultant, Amplified Concepts | December 28, 2014

In the days before the Internet, there was an accepted wisdom that if a guest or customer had a good experience they might tell a few friends, but if they had a bad experience, they would tell everyone they know.

  • The average number of people a social customer will tell about a good customer experience: 42. ~ American Express® Global Customer Service Barometer

  • The average number of people a social customer will tell about a bad customer experience: 53. ~ American Express® Global Customer Service Barometer

Now that everyone has the ability to be an online publisher and reviewer, the story of one per-son's experience is no longer limited to who they know. Stories can grow into worldwide Internet sensations. There are also no shortages of sites where a guest can express their opinions to oth-er travelers. TripAdvisor leads the pack, but there's also Priceline, Orbitz, Expedia,,, and many other smaller players, not to mention the reviews that pop up on Facebook pages, Google plus, and within Twitter and Instagram streams.

All these voices and all these sites can feel so overwhelming that anyone running a hotel may de-cide to just bury their head and pretend none of it is real, and that none of it matters. But it is real, and online reviews matter a lot. Take a look:

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.