I had the great pleasure of working with the fine folks at the Dallas Zoo last week, and I heard a story about how a complaint that came in via social media was handled. It reminded me of one of those “mind blown” headlines, only this one was all substance, and no fluff.
Laurie Holloway, Senior Director of Marketing & Communications for the zoo, told me how monitoring the zoo’s online presence had become a 24/7 endeavor, and that one day she happened to get an alert that someone was less than happy with a meal they just purchased.
Being a hands-on leader, Laurie was already out in the zoo when this happened, and was actually very close to the food venue the guest was referring to. She looked up their profile picture and went to find them.
She approached the guest and asked if there was anything she could do to help, or possibly replace their meal.
When asked how the guest reacted, Laurie said, “she was very surprised, especially at first. But we had a nice conversation about it, and laughed, and she ended up thanking me.”
I gather she was surprised because deep down, she probably thought her post would just go to her friends and maybe she would get a “so sorry for your experience, here is a coupon” response from the zoo, but that’s about it. I would imagine she didn’t expect such a quick and personal response.
And I think that’s one of the issues with social media… being able to complain, post and defame in relative anonymity – a pillar of modern day interwebs-warfare. But that’s another post for another time…
In this case, though, interaction on social media allowed a leadership team to be alerted to an issue very quickly, and to turn that into a positively memorable and personal experience for the guest.
So many people ask if and how they should respond to negative comments online. My answer has always been yes, you should. (Would you ignore a person who was complaining right in front of you? I hope not). Online or in person, the goal is to be respectful and solve the problem.
I think this example goes to show how important it is to respond, and to respond personally. Especially if the guest is still at your park, zoo, aquarium, farm stand, bank, store, museum, waiting room, or restaurant, you have the opportunity to make an incredible impression on that guest, and solve a problem at the same time.
To do this, though, you have to monitor your online presence carefully, and have people like Laurie who love your guests so much that they are ready to run right out and see if they can help.
That just might be the new model for customer service and service recovery. Something to think about.
Thanks for reading!
About the author: ICYMI, Matt appeared on Diane Helbig’s Blog Talk radio show earlier this week. They talked about burnout and leadership and employee engagement. Click below for the replay of the show.