Best Practices For Getting Out of an Unlikeable Situation

  By Jenna Lebel and Mallorie Rosenbluth

Our mission at Likeable is to create more responsive, transparent and ultimately likeable companies. We strive to help our clients attain and maintain those three characteristics. Unfortunately for consumers, not all companies share our priorities. We had the unpleasant encounter with one such company last weekend when our staff traveled to Toronto for one of our employee's wedding.

We all stayed at the Delta Chelsea in downtown Toronto and many of us were excited for our first visit to the city. To our surprise we were welcomed by a hotel staff on strike! For any organization, workers on strike are a nightmare. Business is anything but usual, but people understand.

The most troubling part of the stay was not the people who greeted us upon arrival, but instead what we experienced at check-in and throughout each interaction with the remaining staff. They demanded the cooperation and assistance of their guests despite being so understaffed they couldn’t deliver on standard hotel services (i.e. housekeeping). The staff was rude and unapologetic going so far as saying the strike was not their fault. Each morning we were awoken at 7am to the loud group of roughly 40 workers picketing the front door of the hotel with pots, pans and megaphones. We were also subject to a 5 minute wait time per car while the workers picketed in front of the exit of the parking garage (totaling a 55 minute wait time Sunday morning). They weren’t even willing to meet the guests halfway with any form of compensation. The stay overall was very unpleasant.

We voiced our dissatisfaction and stories of inconvenience to the hotel management, but our concerns fell on deaf ears. Being the social media enthusiasts we are, we all took to Delta Chelsea’s page on Facebook to warn future visitors of our experiences.

We were ignored by Delta Chelsea and ultimately deleted.

As Managing Directors at Likeable Media, we talk to a lot of prospective clients and help them start to think about incorporating social media into their company. Some clients have been at it awhile and others are social media neophytes. Of those newbies, we often have folks tell us: You know, we had a Facebook page up, but we weren’t doing it right. So we took it down.

What surprises us most is these people say this almost shamefully. The truth is nothing makes us happier than when a company admits they’re not ready to be in social media.  To us, these people get it. They realize that slapping a page on Facebook doesn’t mean anything if you’re not ready to engage and share with your biggest advocates – and critics.

Even our clients who are avid engagers in the social space still need our consulting and advice on best practices in the event of a crisis or unlikeable situation with their brand. Here we outline some best practices for responding and handling unpleasant circumstances in social media. Delta Chelsea, are you listening?

RESPOND quickly and consistently. Imagine picking up the phone to call customer service. Imagine finally getting through to someone and explaining your issue. Then imagine hearing the dial tone. That’s essentially how the customer feels when their comments on Facebook and Twitter go unanswered.   If someone takes the time to voice a complaint, compliment or just stops by to say “hi” - if you don’t respond, it’s like hanging up the phone. People want the information. And they want it directly from you. Answer their questions and address their concerns to show them you are listening. With everything in social media happening at lightning speed, it’s important to not only respond, but respond quickly.

 

Be proactive, not reactive. Assume responsibility and address the situation. Don’t assume you can hide information anymore and don’t wait for the public to address it for you. Be hyper-transparent and maintain your tone and voice when doing it. Post a note or status update on Facebook. Tell your Twitter followers through a tweet. Create a YouTube video of your CEO making an official statement. Say something!

 

Monitor closely. Bad news spreads fast, faster via social media platforms. Monitoring the conversation 24/7 immediately following the crisis increases your chances of being the first to respond and set the record straight, before others jump in with inaccurate information.

 

Do Not Delete. What’s worse than not responding? Deleting comments. If a customer is unhappy and is voicing their displeasure through comments on your Facebook page and you delete those comments, it’s a slap in the face. Because the customer knows you’re reading their comments, choosing not to respond to them and then removing them. If your customers are anything like us, the deleting will be more infuriating then the original offense that prompted him or her to take to your Facebook page in the first place.

Show you care and help when you can. Sometimes a simple “we’re so sorry you had a bad experience, we’ll look into this for you” can speak volumes. If you can fix the problem – fix it. If you can somehow make it up to the customer – make it up to them. If you can’t – then say you’re sorry. It’s that simple.

 

Update your fans. Keep your fans in the know as you handle the situation and make things right. Share links to interviews, press releases, customer service numbers and other information. When updating your fans/followers be sure to thank them for their continued support.

Do you have any additional tips for how Delta Chelsea or any company for that matter can handle an unpleasant situation via social media? Share in the comments section below!

Update From Delta Hotels: We received a message from the Manager of Customer Experience over at Delta Hotels (the parent company of the Delta Chelsea). It seems someone was listening, thanks Lisa!

Dear Mallorie and Jenna,

We are so sorry to learn of your experience at Delta Chelsea recently. On behalf of Delta Hotels and Resorts, we sincerely apologize for the disappointment both of you encountered while visiting one of our hotels.

Your blog has raised many great suggestions that we will take to heart to improve our processes for handling feedback on Twitter/Facebook and other social media outlets. This has been a learning experience for us, an opportunity for us to improve from here, and we thank you for bringing this to our attention.

Also, I can assure you that a senior leadership team member at Delta Chelsea will be responding to the specific comments you mentioned about your stay as soon as possible.

Lisa also provided her full contact info so we could reach her directly, which we decided not to post here. Here's hoping the rest of the Delta Hotels (and specifically Delta Chelsea) are moving in the right direction along with Lisa.

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