"Proactive customer service > reactive digital marketing"
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Diligent customer service will outperform any marketing campaign, 100% of the time.
The inverse being, no retroactive marketing campaign can make up for terrible customer service.
People want to do business where they feel trust, respect and appreciation.
Throwing a million dollars into a marketing campaign cannot fabricate those things. Things like authenticity, and genuinely caring about your customers.
I have been asked by would-be clients if I can step in and help them with their marketing efforts to effectively, out perform bad reviews, or outshine online complaints or poor ratings. My answer is always, no.
Not only am I not interested in firefighting honest reviews that customers have put online, essentially as a warning to other potential customers of this business, but any business that holds marketing efforts above customer service is not a business I want to be associated with.
I have a brief example. My much better half and I went on an 8 day cruise with Royal Caribbean. On the 4th day, a pipe broke in our bathroom, literally inside the bathroom wall. Water started pouring out from the pipe leading into the toilet, right where it met the wall.
I immediately called maintenance and they said they’d send someone right away. Several calls later, it took 45 minutes before anyone showed and by then it was too late. Water had made its way wall-to-wall within our stateroom. Everything was soaking wet and it the smell was horrible.
Naturally, I asked for another room. Not even an upgrade, just another room. We were told no. They couldn’t do that. Their first and final offer, was $100 gift card, and not even for the cruise we were on – rather, for the next booking onRoyal Caribbean.
We ended up staying 4 days in a room with wet carpets from toilet water.
This was unacceptable to say the least, for a $5,000 cruise.
So when I got home, I made it my business to follow up with RCCL and let them know exactly how we were treated. I left a BBB review, TripAdvisor, Google, Yelp, Facebook, you name it.
Since then, my reviews have received tens of thousands of views, combined across all platforms – with hundreds of supporting comments, in aggregate.
For RCCL to hire digital marketers to “out rank” or try to bury the honest reviews due to horrible customer service is both expensive and bad business.
I learned, through my complaint calls to management, that alternative rooms were in fact available, both laterally and upgrades.
They chose not to move us to one.
I know from first hand experience at Four Seasons, that if something like this had happened at one of our properties to one of OUR guests, we would take every measure to make it right by the guest, even if it meant booking them down the street at a competitor, comping their entire stay, providing transportation and a credit. Whatever it takes to make it right.
That is why Four Seasons is the gold standard.
The cost of doing the right thing would have been very minimal to RCCL.
The cost of not doing the right thing has likely cost them dozens of bookings to competing cruise lines.
In addition to that, now I have an in-person story to tell people, when relevant, and the reach of this video is that many more people will know what happened.
If you own or operate a business, or are a decision maker within your organization, don’t let things like this happen. Simply do right by your customers.
By providing a level of empowerment to your staff and team members, it creates a greater sense of responsibility and even accountability. It becomes their problem to solve.
If they know they have the power to make a $500 or a $1000 decision, it can save the business 20X that in the end.
100% of the time you can trump a reactive million dollar budget and the best marketing efforts with diligent, responsible customer service.
The user experience is everything.