Another week, another location -- this time I'm on the west coast for a technical conference. This week, I got put into a hotel room that could be best categorized as "less preferred." When I requested to be relocated, the desk manager proceeded to give me the service-industry version of no. Let's just say that the overall exchange did not go pleasantly. Today the hotel was nice enough to work with me and make a change. But rather than go into the details or press the issue of who or what, here's a much bigger take-away for you in Web 2.0 Lessons from the Service Industry.
Take-away point #1
It doesn't really matter whether you are right or wrong, whether you were justified or not, if your customer becomes disgruntled, they can generate bad Word of Mouth (WOM) marketing for you. They don't need a blog, but they can use that; they don't need TripAdvisor, YouTube or Amazon recommendations, but they can use that; they don't really even need spend money, all they need to do is have enough energy to express their frustration, to get some payback, and some knowledge of the tools available to them in order to create a WOM ripple. And anger, the dark side of the force, carries a lot of energy.
Compare this to what you don't get -- you don't get a chance to respond. You don't get to explain any extenuating circumstances. No excuses. Your only hope is that the ripple isn't joined by another to make a larger wave. Your only hope is that the energy in the ripple crashes against a wave of positive support going the other direction.
You know, this hotel is nice -- it's clean, for the most part, the people are friendly and they seem to be making a genuine effort to try to make their product better than average. The problem is, like the "One Question" book, there is such a high threshold to overcome in order to move to the recommend end of the spectrum. But, finding the negative energy to generate bad WOM... not so much. All it takes is one negative customer touch-point. Knowing this, what are you doing to help ensure your customers stay in the postive?