NOTE: I talked about this lesson first on Snapchat, as part of my new “Baer In The Woods” series. A few times a week, I create a Snapchat story with advice about digital marketing and customer service. If you’re familiar with my “Jay Today” series, it’s a similar concept but much shorter – and of course on Snapchat. I’d love to interact with you on the SC, it’s where I’m the most real-time and raw.
I stayed at the recently renovated Sheraton hotel downtown, and when I entered my room this letter was on my desk:
This is a nice and personal touch. You don’t often see a letter from a GM of a hotel, offering their personal cell phone number in case you need anything.
Clearly, this hospitality professional cares about customer satisfaction and customer feedback, and wants to make it clear that there are no barriers between the guest and himself.
But here’s the problem…..it won’t work.
Doug Vandenberg’s Mistake
What Doug Vandenberg failed to understand is that calling a GM on his personal cell phone is quite literally the LAST thing a hotel guest wants to do, in almost every circumstance.
Unless you have a very serious problem, or have been unable to get a satisfactory resolution to a minor problem despite several attempts, you are not going to dial up the GM on his mobile.
Because a real-time, telephonic interaction with the hotel GM raises the stakes emotionally disproportionate to the issue at hand, increasing friction and dissonance for the guest – the exact opposite of what Doug is shooting for here.
Hit and Run Complaints are Preferred
The reality is that the Internet (and even more so, mobile Internet) have made us all passive-aggressive.
Emotionally, it would be far more comfortable to complain about this hotel asynchronously through the filter of technology, using a text message, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp or other digital mechanism.
Digital complaint avenues allow us the psychological salve of “getting it off our chest” without the accompaniment of interpersonal conflict.
After all, 97% of customers will not approach an employee to complain or praise face-to-face, and a telephone call is almost equally disruptive at this point.
This is, of course, most true of younger customers. 36% of Millennials would contact a company more often if they could do so via text message.
The Best Way to Get More Feedback
To actually have an impact on guest feedback volume, Doug Vandenberg should rewrite his letter to read:
Dear Valued Guest:
We know you had a choice in making your lodging decision, and I am thrilled that you are staying at the Sheraton Nashville Downtown.
My team and I want your stay with us to be perfect. If at any time, your experience is less than ideal in any way, please contact us immediately however you prefer. Options include:
Text Message at 616.485.8183
Twitter at @SheratonNashvl
Facebook at /SheratonNashvilleDowntown
And of course our front desk team can help as well. Just press “0” on your in-room phone.
After your stay, I’d be very grateful if you’d take a moment to leave us a review on Yelp and/or TripAdvisor. Only with your feedback can we keep getting better and better? Can I count on your help?
Thank you for being here and have a great time in Nashville!
Doug Vandenberg, General Manager
Remember, when you want to get more customer feedback, you can only do so if you remove pain and conflict for the customer. Allow them to provide feedback in the channels THEY prefer, not the channels that YOU prefer.