Protecting Your Hotel Or Restaurant Against Bad Online Reviews

Posted by on Sep 25, 2014 in Customer Experience Management, Customer Service, Feedback | 0 comments

If you work in the hospitality industry, perhaps running a B&B, hotel or restaurant, then one of your biggest issues for the last two or three years has probably been the damage that can be caused to your business by negative online reviews.

Whilst you may work hard to ensure a quality service, the likelihood is that from time-to-time you still get negative reviews, as what is considered excellent by one customer, will be viewed as unacceptable by another. The truth is that guests or customers often aren’t best placed to critique an establishment, since they are not an inspector who is spending their days inspecting similarly priced venues in the same locality, therefore their ‘yardstick’ may have been set at an unrealistic level.

So if you are in hospitality, perhaps running a guesthouse, hotel, pub or restaurant, what can you do to protect your business reputation against the often unjustified negative online reviews? Well in reality it is often tough to get existing negative reviews removed. Some sites do offer a system whereby you get points for each positive review, and so collect enough and you can exchange them for having a negative comment removed, but this is often not an available option and so the best solution long-term has to be to avoid getting them in the first place.

It’s impossible to get everything right, for every customer, all of the time…but you should always aim to. However when things do go wrong, to avoid negative reviews firstly provide an easy to use feedback scheme, making it more likely unhappy customers will feedback to you rather than vent their displeasure on a review site as people these days are busy and would seldom have time to do both. Then when you do get negative feedback it’s essential you fight the impulse to be defensive, you must challenge yourself to make the customer happy, remembering often they will then become a bigger advocate for your business than one that was happy in the first place.

Secondly, since you are putting in place a feedback scheme and acting upon the feedback i.e. implementing closed loop feedback, why not go all the way to adopting a customer experience focus within your business, and really set out to ‘wow’ your customers with your service levels. If you do you will find the word of mouth benefits will easily outweigh the extra time, money and effort invested, and also you yourself will feel far more positive about and indeed rightly proud of your business.

It's impossible

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Could Time Be Running Out For Many Small Businesses?

Posted by on Sep 19, 2014 in Customer Experience Management, Feedback | 0 comments

Forget purchasing power, colossal adverting budgets, opening hours and premises size, small companies are set to face their biggest challenge to-date from large organisations. Small businesses can offer just one positive differentiator over large, a truly unique and personal service…and big business is now all set to directly challenge them on this.

Unknown to the proprietors of most SMEs, the hot topic for the executives in the boardrooms of many large corporations has been the upgrading of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software to CXM (Customer Experience Management) systems. This new breed of software which has been developed by the giants of business systems such as Oracle and IBM is designed to handle big data, giving companies unique insights into each and every customer.

So how far off is this new threat to small businesses? Well if you are serving a B2C marketplace, perhaps in retail for example, you may have already begun to come up against the new systems being used by the supermarket giants or the likes of amazon, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.

So why is CXM such a threat? Well the new software is developed to listen to customers at all touchpoints including social media, allowing companies to tailor customer experience to individuals with the ultimate goal of “wowing” them with service and a tailored offering. It also performs customer rescues when analysis shows the potential to churn, making winning customers from big business so very much harder.

What does this mean for the small business? Well if own or run an SME and you don’t already, you must embrace the same principles as CXM systems. In short, nurture every customer relationship, really get to know what each of your customers likes and as importantly dislikes. Move budgets from marketing for new business, to using it to really impressing your existing customers, then you can build new business from the extra word of mouth generated. Finally employ a feedback scheme so you can get a real handle on what your customers are thinking, as many won’t tell you voluntarily, you’ll just not see them again one day.

Small businesses can offer just one differentiator2

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Don’t Fightback, Feedback!

Posted by on Sep 16, 2014 in Customer Service, Feedback, Voice of the Customer | 0 comments

In the new era of social media and review sites, customers have power like never before to damage a business and its reputation. Find a fly in your soup at a local restaurant, and a quick witty post about it on TripAdvisor or on Facebook and you’ll soon have the world believing the establishment boasts more insect life than the jungles of Panama.

A question though perhaps we might ask ourselves is, should we in the first instance be posting views on social media or review sites after we leave a premises, potentially inflicting real damage to the business concerned? Alternatively, should we not recognise it’s very difficult to get everything right, especially for every single customer, and so instead feedback to the management quietly, giving them the at least a chance to improve their business and perhaps even make it up to us personally.

Certainly if the business concerned were run by a friend or member of our own family, we wouldn’t dream of publishing negative feedback online as we’d recognise the hard work they put into building the business, and that it would cause them damage. So why do we so readily seek to take this action rather than feedback as we would do if we knew the owner? The English don’t like to make complaints, we prefer to have something to moan about later, but when this negative comment finds its way onto social media and review sites this is no longer harmless chat, it’s broadcasting, and could indeed be seen as malicious since it potentially causes such great harm.

Business owners also need to play a significant part in changing the feedback culture too; management should consider putting in place a feedback scheme / voice of the customer facility. Once received, it is vital any feedback is acted upon quickly, demonstrating to the customer their feedback will result in a positive change and that the business sincerely cares that they are unhappy with their experience. If a customer rescue is achieved and the situation rectified, research shows that these customers will be more loyal than before, and indeed be bigger advocates for the business.

The English don't like to complain2

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The New Age of Customer Care

Posted by on Sep 9, 2014 in Customer Experience Management, Customer Service, Feedback, Voice of the Customer | 0 comments

Over the last ten years the internet has changed the way most of us do business or indeed are a customer, and we are still very much at an early stage in the evolution of what we currently term the web. It may seem hard to imagine but the next decade will see even greater change, but this time driven as customer service catches up to technology with the advent of Customer Experience Management (CXM) replacing or laying on top of existing CRM systems.

CXM will aid large corporations achieve a high level of customer care that many of which have previously been unknown for, almost anticipating a customer’s needs and listening to their feedback when they have issues by way of VoC, feedback schemes and other contact at customer touchpoints. This is in stark contrast to the first decade of the mass adoption of the internet, when many businesses sought to almost hide behind their websites when customers wanted to make contact. As customers chased purchased products or were seeking to make a complaint, they trawled around websites in vain looking for a telephone number or even just an email address to make a follow-up enquiry. A ridiculous practice when we look back now, akin to a bricks and mortar shopkeeper jumping behind the counter of his store and turning off the lights if he believed a customer might be on their way back to return goods.

If you are running a business in the approaching new age of customer care then the message is simple, now the world has gone online and you no longer see your customers, you better start listening to them. If you don’t listen to your customers your competitors surely will, and would be more than happy to fulfil their needs. For small businesses not able to employ such complex CXM technology they will have to become a beacon of personal service, getting to know their customers like a local shopkeeper might have done fifty years ago. For the customer this is all good news, and marks a welcome shift away from the frustration of dealing with companies that sometimes didn’t even previously pay lip service to customer care.

The New Age of Customer Care

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The Opportunity Is The Problem

Posted by on Sep 8, 2014 in Customer Experience Management, Customer Service, Feedback, Voice of the Customer | 0 comments

Human nature dictates that we trust and value a friendship more once it’s been tested, and the same is true for customer loyalty after an issue arises and the business proves it truly cares. Having had a problem corrected many studies have shown customers become more loyal than they were previous to the issue, indeed oftentimes they then become the biggest advocates for the business.

Most companies today still see contacts made for customer service reasons as a drain on resources only. If we consider the Call Handling Time key performance indicator used in most contact centres, that statistic really equates to how quickly each Customer Service Advisor can end each call rather then ensure each caller is completely happy, let alone go on to use the opportunity for developing the relationship with the customer.

In an overloaded social media world, having a direct conversation or dialog at length with any customer and building a direct relationship has become far more difficult, especially for larger organisations or companies that primarily do business online. So, now in contrast to most, some forward thinking organisations are embracing this type of customer service contact as a chance to develop a deeper relationship, and differentiating themselves from their competitors by showing a high level of care and value toward the customer.

In time with the advent of Customer Experience Management (CXM), each and every contact either via a feedback scheme, Voice of the Customer channel or direct to a contact centre call will be viewed as critical to every business. Until such a time there remains a huge advantage for the early pioneers into CXM, and those organisations seeing the opportunity in feedback and complaints to really set themselves apart from their competitors, by using this customer initiated contact to actually build stronger relationships.

Once its been tested

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