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There was Web 1.0 and now Web 2.0. While some people debate as to the exact definition of each, I see it as an advancement of how people use the Internet and communicate across various channels (i.e. email, Twitter, Facebook, and more generally, the real-time web). However, I propose that businesses begin to see the transformation as an opportunity to engage in Customer Service 2.0.
A little over a week ago my girlfriend and I decided to take a short weekend trip over Martin Luther King weekend. After researching the typical tourist locations within driving distance of New York City – Atlantic City, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Saratoga Springs, the Poconos, Montreal, etc… – we decided on Lake Placid. It was on the Lake Placid Convention and Visitors Bureau website where the trouble began.
I secured a room at the Alpine Country Inn & Suites along with a Wine Tasting Package redeemable for two free tastings at local vineyards. Upon receiving the confirmation, and credit card receipt for my deposit, I was instructed to contact the hotel to arrange the wine tour. I called within 15 minutes of receiving the confirmation and was forced to leave a message due to the lack of personnel on the other end (Mistake #1).
The owner and manager of Alpine Country Inn & Suites contacted me later on the same day. She informed me that the hotel’s booking system was not linked into the reservation system embedded in the Visitor’s Bureau page (Mistake #2). Unfortunately for me, this meant my room was unavailable. I had secured the room while it was vacant, but due to the negligence of the management they had taken a reservation only seconds before returning my call for the same room.
I requested to be given the room I had secured before the other patron and was told that it would not be possible. I couldn’t believe my ears when I was told I would have to pay to upgrade to a larger room to accommodate my girlfriend and myself. While the larger suite was a mere $20 more per night (a total of $40 plus tax), I was not willing to pay for their mistake.
I simply stated, “As the owner of this establishment you would be willing to lose a potential customer and receive a negative online review for a mere $40?” The owner’s response can be summarized: “Yes” (Mistake #3).
So, let’s review:
Mistake #1: Communication Channels
Web 2.0 has provided individuals and businesses the ability to communicate across a multitude of channels in real-time. It is necessary to use the free tools available to your customers to communicate and solve customer service problems. If your clients are talking about you on Twitter, you need to be there. If they are writing reviews about your service on TripAdvisor (travel industry), then you need to claim your page. In the case of Alpine Country Inn & Suites – you need to start at ground zero and Web 2.0: build an online presence in addition to your static webpage!
Mistake #2: Consistency Across Channels
I tell all of my consulting clients that they need to present a consistent image and message for themselves or their businesses across all social media channels. While this example is stretching it, the Alpine Country Inn & Suites was offering reservations on more than one channel without syncing the requests. Talk about miscommunication.
Mistake #3: Traditional Customer Service Transfers to CS2.0
Let’s say you order a salad at a restaurant. Being that it is January, you decide to ask for dressing on the side – see my post on Nutrisystem from yesterday. Unfortunately, a miscommunication resulted in your salad being served dripping in a rich and thick Ranch dressing. If you feel compelled to bring this mistake to your waiter’s attention I assume, from many personal experiences, that he/she would replace it with no charge. Whether the mistake is the customers or not, a successful business makes sure the client is happy. Remember, the customer is always right. Don’t motivate a disgruntled customer to write a blog post bashing your business practices for a mere $40. Grit your teeth, smile and bite the bullet – it is no cost to you!
In conclusion, my girlfriend and I were able to secure a private cabin in Wilmington, NY – only 11 miles from Lake Placid – for Saturday and Sunday night. The cabin is offered through The North Pole Resorts and was perfect. Furthermore, the Wine Tasting Package originally offered by the Alpine Country Inn & Suites is not hard to arrange by yourself. Simply visit the Goose Watch Winery in downtown Lake Placid where you are able to taste 8 wines and keep a souvenir glass for $3. Next, take the glass and head a mile down Main Street to the Swedish Hill Winery where for only $1 more you can taste another $8 local varietals.