When the need to respond to complaints clashes with a lack of training dangerous sparks can fly
Dealing with online reputation is a regular part of doing business today, so much so that many overlook how disconcertingly easy it is for even an employee who means well to bring you into harm’s way.
Take the case of an Arizona Best Western Hotel guest relations manager who published a jaw-dropping response to an entirely ordinary complaint in early August. Replying on Tripadvisor to a review that went on about a few extraordinarily common issues – an error in activating card keys, an issue with hot water, and a not finding decaf in their room – the nameless Guest Relations Manager posted the below (as reported and screencapped by local NBC affiliate KPNX):
“Thank you for your stay with us. I do apologize for your disappointing stay with us. I have noted your comments and will review them with our staff members to make improvements. Unfortunately, mistakes can happen with our staff as our hotel is working with a mostly Native population that have not had privileged education available in most parts of the country.The hotel does our best to train them to improve their quality of life. We hope our guests from outside the reservation can also introduce kindness to them as they are very nice people learning to service a more sophisticated and well-traveled public. Thank you.”
Oh, and did we mention that this particular Best Western is practically next door to the area’s large Navajo Nation reservation?
Here’s the really scary bit – it’s entirely likely that the person who posted this response thought they were doing the right thing. They believed they were sharing a legitimate explanation with this customer, and that making the post would be beneficial to the business.
We see this all the time to varying degrees. Complaints are common, the desire to defend your employer is strong, and often those at the helm of online response are quite proficient in social media, but completely lacking in crisis management training.
You can’t assume that, because someone is good at handling Facebook, Twitter, etc., that they’re capable of heading off crises before they can gain steam, or even not creating crises of their own. It takes specific training, and operating without that is a liability.
The BCM Blogging Team