Not long ago, a new bride honeymooning at a Ritz-Carlton had a bad experience and complained about it on Twitter. Hotel customer service responded within an hour. By the following day, the bride was tweeting about how wonderful the hotel was.
Not every hotel chain is that uber-responsive, but most properties have teams in place to handle damage control via social media. No business wants a customer complaining to an audience of thousands, especially in the hospitality trade. For this reason, you can often get a problem solved faster and more effectively using social media than by calling a customer service center—and who wants to wait on hold when you’re on vacation?
Most major airlines, hotels, credit cards, and loyalty programs have Twitter accounts and Facebook pages now, and many have separate accounts set up on Twitter to handle customer service. But, as with all forms of conflict resolution, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about this. Here are eight tips for getting problems resolved quickly and efficiently for your next trip.
1. Stay Focused on the Specific Complaint
Even though a Twitter post is only 140 characters, it’s amazing what you can express if you stick to the point. Posting on a hotel or reward program’s Facebook page gives you a little more room to rant, but it’s still better to keep it brief.
2. Tag Tweets Appropriately
If you post a complaint on a company’s Facebook page, you don’t have to tag it, but if you tweet, tagging can speed things up. Search related Twitter accounts before posting. Want to complain about service at a Holiday Inn? Add @HolidayInn to your tweet. If you’re disputing a fee on your American Express rewards card, tagging @AskAmEx will get your complaint spotted faster and channeled appropriately.
3. Be Persistent to See Results
If your first tweet or Facebook post misses the mark, try again after an hour or two.
4. Once You Start the Process, Stay on It
If you’d like an issue resolved quickly, check frequently for responses and respond accordingly. Twitter-monitoring applications such as Hoot Suite make this easier and Facebook has an app for smartphones that will alert you when you get a response.
5. Aim for Resolution, Not Revenge
Don’t just spew and fling insults, even if you’re speaking from the throes of a frustrating experience. This is a conversation and negotiation: It helps to articulate expectations and be open to a solution.
6. Don’t Be Surprised if You’re Asked to Take the Discussion Offline
Twitter-based customer support will often respond to a complaint by asking you to follow a specific account (@AskCapitalOne, @AAdvantage, etc.) in order to enable direct messaging (that's out of the public eye). Don’t worry—they’re not trying to shut you up. It’s a necessary step for exchanging information you wouldn’t want broadcast online. Speaking of which . . .
7. Be Careful What You Share
Your Twitter feed is accessible to anyone, as is anything you post on a company’s Facebook page. It may seem obvious, but don’t make the mistake of posting personal or financial information such as account numbers or passwords.
8. Express Your Appreciation Publicly
If a customer service team solved your grievance after you aired it in public, thank them where it counts—in public. That’s the best way to ensure corporations remain responsive on social media.
Fodors.com contributor Cathleen McCarthy is the rewards expert for CreditCards.com and covers hotel and travel deals in Northeast cities on her own network, Save on Cities. Her stories have appeared in The Washington Post, WSJ, Amtrak ARRIVE, Town & Country, and several in-flight magazines.