When tourism and hospitality companies try to deliver service excellence, social media is more often assuming a key role in the equation. Now that social media has become an integral part of customers’ life, making use of them for delivering customer service is progressively moving from a cutting edge concept towards a business necessity (HotelMarketing 2014).
Large travel companies, especially in the airline industry but also increasingly accommodation providers established comprehensive social media customer service teams. Particularly in crisis situation, the value of social media as a service tool becomes apparent. For instance during the weather related disruption of the flight traffic in UK last month, customer and companies turned increasingly to social media. In particular the possibility for multi-directional conversations (1-to-1, 1-to-many, many-to-many) relieves traditional customer service channels, such as front-desks or hotlines.
Manage customers’ expectations
Providing full, around the clock customer service care on social media is a costly and time intensive undertaking, that in particular smaller companies struggle with. At the same time, disappointing customers (i.e. by not replying) that seek service support can have detrimental effects on customer satisfaction and reputation. Therefore, we see more often brands clearly managing the customers expectations up front, by outlining response times, opening times and also sometimes the types of requests that will be answered.
Opportunity for SME’s
Although the time and resource requirements for professionally operated social media customer care in big companies are high, this development provides a great opportunity for SMEs to strengthen their competitive positioning. Fuelled by free social media monitoring services, it becomes increasingly manageable to pick up and respond to customer service requests in real-time across a wide variety of different channels. This in turn enables SMEs to get closer to their customers and deliver service excellence in virtual environments.
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