Take charge of customer perception

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I was recently trawling TripAdvisor reviews for a client in the Caribbean when I came across a 3-star (out of a possible 5 stars) review titled, “Best location, wish they maintained it well.” The reviewer went on to criticize the hotel’s “un-manicured” and “poorly maintained” grounds, implying that management was apathetic and neglectful.

Increasingly, travelers are reading hotel reviews before deciding where to spend their travel dollars. Thirty-three percent of travelers reported changing their hotel booking plans after reading online reviews (PhoCusWright’s Social Media in Travel, 2012). And hotels cannot overlook the negative financial impact of subpar reviews. According to the Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University, “For every 1% of increase in a hotel’s online reputation score, a hotel enjoys a .54% increase in occupancy, which can lead to a 1.42% increase in revenue per available room.”

It’s worth noting that in the property manager’s response to the above review, he shared, “The area is protected by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Department and the hotel is under tight control over its appearance. At this time of year, while trees and bushes may appear to be ‘un-manicured,’ we currently have migratory White-crowned Pigeons on the island and are prohibited from trimming the foliage until the migration period is complete later this summer as to prevent disturbing them.”

I wondered what the impact would have been on the guest’s perception had she, while staying at the hotel, been made aware of the White-crowned Pigeon’s migration and its effect on the hotel’s landscaping? Would that knowledge have influenced the title of the review? The critical tone of the review? The number of stars awarded?

Your business may never be affected by the migration patterns of a protected species, but there may be another dynamic contributing to customers’ negative perceptions. Offering customers “a peek behind the curtain” may reveal a valid explanation for situations that, on the surface, appear to be product or service quality oversights.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steve Curtin
Steve Curtin is the author of Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary. He wrote the book to address the following observation: While employees consistently execute mandatory job functions for which they are paid, they inconsistently demonstrate voluntary customer service behaviors for which there is little or no additional cost to their employers. After a 20-year career with Marriott International, Steve now devotes his time to speaking, consulting, and writing on the topic of extraordinary customer service.

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