Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 41

 5.5-MINUTE READING TIME

of people complaining online aren't just
yelling into an abyss - they expect the
brands to respond to them and make
it right. They want to hear an apology.
Many businesses subscribe to the
idea that apologizing is admitting liability, which could lead to more issues
later. However, this goes against all
research in managing and mitigating
crises. Consumers want to see that the
people behind a company are sincerely
concerned about their customers and
empathetic to their experience.
Speak to legal counsel before a crisis occurs. Find out specifically what
you are and are not allowed to say to
someone who feels wronged. Come up
with a plan of how you would respond
to negative comments on social media
with a human voice that is consistent
with your other brand communication.

TAKE IT OFFLINE
It is best to keep any issue from escalating and getting in front of more eyes
online. The more interactions a social
media post has, the more people will see
it. Many brands on Twitter will respond
to customer complaints with a tweet
following the formula: "We're sorry to
hear your frustration. Could you send
us a DM [direct message] with your [relevant information] and we can look into
this for you?"
The downside of this method is it can
sound robotic and unfeeling. People are
aware that you want it taken off line,
and if they're really angry about a situation, they may want to work even
harder to boost their side of what
happened. Further, if the person has
had repeated issues with a company
and continues to receive this same
response, they'll just feel more frustrated and unheard.
Seventy-two percent of consumers
who complain about a brand online
expect a response within one hour.
Brands can no longer take the time
to craft a communication plan before

handling complaints. It's ok to respond
saying that you're concerned about their
experience, but you need to look into
more details - and would they mind
sending you a DM with any details that
would help you investigate faster? If
you're moving to a private communication channel, it is important to also
publicly state you are doing this, so that
others reading the interaction won't
think you're just ignoring the problem.

WHEN CALL-OUTS GO VIRAL
The best way to prevent a public call-out
is to be more cognizant of a customer's
experience as it is happening and proactively work to give great service. This
can be as simple as training your staff to
take complaints seriously and have the
power to react promptly. However, all
the careful planning in the world can't
prevent an unseen viral phenomenon.
When these crises hit, it's important to
get in touch with your legal team as soon
as possible, but still follow the steps outlined above: listen, apologize and take
it offline.
As an example, let's look at an issue
that Cracker Barrel has been facing for
a whole year. In February 2017, a man
named Brad wrote on the Cracker Barrel
Facebook page asking why his wife got
fired. He threatened legal action and
on two other occasions posted to their
page about it.
A comedian shared screenshots of this
post, which was then shared over 76,000
times, and "Brad's Wife" quickly became
a meme. Soon, #justiceforbradswife was
trending on Twitter and a petition on
Change.org had over 26,000 signatures.
There was coverage of the incident in
publications including The Washington
Post, Fortune and Inc.com. A full year
later, every post by Cracker Barrel on
Facebook and Twitter is still met with
people commenting and asking about
Brad's wife.
We imagine this vitriol must have
been shocking and confusing to

corporate, who would have had to weigh
their brand persona with legal guidance
on whether to respond and how. Because
details about employment are confidential, Cracker Barrel inadvertently fueled
the fire by never responding to this viral
phenomenon.
At the time of the original post, the
company could have responded directly
to Brad. They could then have worked
with HR to reach out to the individual
store and employee to investigate the
matter further. There's a chance that
this wouldn't have changed anything,
and the story would still have gone
viral. However, the internet latched on
to the unknown, and a visible company
response could have tamped this down.
While the Cracker Barrel example may
seem extreme, on a smaller scale every
day customers are calling out brands
online. They tweet about bad service,
Yelp about rude employees, and leave
reviews that are shared with their networks online.

MAKE A PLAN
It's important to discuss with key stakeholders what you will do when you deal
with call-out culture. Include your social
media manager, legal contact and marketing director to establish your communication expectations and agree upon
your brand's tone in these scenarios.
Train at all levels of how to handle complaints, both in-person and online. Most
importantly, put the tools in place to
be listening to what people are saying
about your company on social media
and review websites.
■
Amber Wojcek is the
marketing coordinator
for Travel Media Group,
which provides innovative
digital marketing
solutions for hotels. Contact her at
amber.wojcek@travelmediagroup.com
and follow her on Twitter at
@TravelMediaGrp.
TODAYSHOTELIER.COM | MARCH 2018 | 41


http://www.TODAYSHOTELIER.COM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Today's Hotelier - March 2018

Letter From the Chairman
Letter From the President & CEO
#AAHOACON18 Spotlight
Government Affairs & Advocacy
The C-Suite
Common Ground
Elevate Yourself to a Higher Role in the Industry
Next-Level Housekeeping via Technology
Mentoring Matters
Small Business
Finance
Marketing
Technology
Compliance & Legal
Leadership
Guest Experience
Aahoa Founding Members
Classifieds
Advertiser Index
Back of the House
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - Intro
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - cover1
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - cover2
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 3
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 4
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 5
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 6
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 7
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 8
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 9
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - Letter From the Chairman
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 11
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - Letter From the President & CEO
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 13
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - #AAHOACON18 Spotlight
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 15
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 16
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 17
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - Government Affairs & Advocacy
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 19
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - The C-Suite
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 21
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - Common Ground
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 23
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - Elevate Yourself to a Higher Role in the Industry
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 25
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 26
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 27
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - Next-Level Housekeeping via Technology
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 29
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 30
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 31
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - Mentoring Matters
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 33
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 34
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 35
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - Small Business
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 37
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - Finance
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 39
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - Marketing
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 41
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - Technology
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 43
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - Compliance & Legal
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 45
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - Leadership
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 47
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 48
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 49
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - Guest Experience
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 51
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 52
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 53
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - Aahoa Founding Members
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 55
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - Classifieds
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 57
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 58
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 59
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 60
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 61
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 62
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - Advertiser Index
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 64
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - Back of the House
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - 66
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - cover3
Today's Hotelier - March 2018 - cover4
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