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Using Social Media To Shock & Awe Your Customers

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It should come as no surprise that clever hotels are now monitoring social media posts by customers and responding to comments and complaints – often in real time. But one Florida Marriott has taken it up a notch by not only posting online replies, but also taking swift real world action.

When a guest Tweeted about his room: "At the Orlando Marriott World Center for RIM WES 2010 but I have the crappiest room in the hotel" he was shocked a few minutes later when he found note of apology from the hotel manager for the "current room situation" slipped under his door with an offer to move him to a pool-view room the next day.

Another guest attending a technology conference at the property casually mentioned his desire for a cold beer. Identified as an influential blogger, the hotel made his stay memorable by offering him a bucket of 10 Coronas to share with friends on the hotel's outdoor patio. The blogger was awed. Not only did Marriott create good will and build loyalty with those customers, the hotel’s reputation also benefited significantly when these customers posted their reaction to these gestures, which were then further amplified via reposts, bloggers and general media. I think a lot of businesses can benefit by adding this shock and awe approach to their social media strategy.

There is a lot to be gained, in particular, when responding with a grand gesture to complaining customers. Something I learned many years ago as a sales manager for a promotions company: a complaining customer can be converted into your best customer if you “over-solve” their problem. For example, if a restaurant patron complains that his food was served cold and the waiter brings them a fresh hot dish, that customer will be placated, but may never eat at that establishment again. However, if that hot dish is brought to his table with a free drink and a promise of a complimentary desert and a personal apology from the manager, he will return again and again. And you can be sure he will tell his friends.

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