Social Media has changed the way many companies do business. For the consumer this has lead to better customer service and in many cases increased convenience. I have used Twitter now for months to make reservations for L’Appart, the French restaurant at the Sofitel Sukhumvit Bangkok, with great success. It’s simple, I tweet @SofitelBKKSuk and (depending on the time) someone replies very promptly. If I tweet let’s say, between 8am – 10pm Bangkok time, I’ll have a reply within an hour or less. If I tweet during their nighttime, I always have an answer when I wake up in the US!
I think this is a brilliant way to provide an added service to customers. It’s interactive and it’s easy! I think ease is the key to being successful today and making use of Social Media tools certainly makes things much more easy.
Other companies use social media successfully as well – though I haven’t yet figured out how to make an airline reservation via Twitter, the Starwood social media team has made hotel reservations for me. In my opinion, Starwood has the best social media team. I recently replied to a tweet from Starwood Hotels about hotel deals in the US asking if they had any deal in Phuket Thailand. Minutes later I had a reply suggesting a link where I could find deals in Thailand. @StarwoodBuzz (the Starwood Hotels Twitter handle) and @SPG (the Starwood Preferred Guest Twitter Handle) will reply to questions, complaints, issues w/reservations, problems at hotels and more. They are fast and always make things happen.
I had to Tweet @HiltonHelp recently, and while they did solve my problem in the end, it took several days and several emails. So while I’m glad that Hilton is engaging in social media, they have a long way to go. I have not found Marriott International’s Twitter team to be responsive at all, though some of the local Twitter teams are very responsive. For example, @MarriottAustralia is great about providing customer service via Twitter and some of the individual hotel’s on Twitter are responsive as well.
In the world of airlines, I think the stand-out is clear cut, @AmericanAir is the most responsive and most interactive with its followers. They even seem to have fun while they’re doing it and have a great sense of humor. @KLM has really stepped up their Social Media presence, especially on Facebook with their VIP Flynt (VIP stands for Very Important Puppet in this case) and he’s hysterical. I’m happy that @USAir has gotten into the game, a little late, but better than never. Now, they’re not nearly as funny or as quick as @AmericanAir, but who knows what will happen with rumors of an impending merger heating up. They can be helpful and they do respond, which is a great start.
I think more and more companies will be looking to Social Media to interact with and provide service to customers. Those who don’t, I suspect, will lose that segment of the market who rely almost solely on technology to do day-to-day tasks, make reservations, etc… I bet we see many more companies like step-up on social media like @SofitelBKKSuk, @SPG and @AmericanAir have.
What companies do you interact with most on Social Media?