Brands in the News

Hilton Recovers

12 Dec 2011  

Last week I wrote a post about my stay at the Minneapolis Hilton and how the front desk team didn’t respond when I informed them that my visit was rather disappointing.  I used it as an example of a missed opportunity in service recovery.

Several hours after I put up my post, however, I heard from Hilton’s social media department, saying they saw it, were concerned and were looking into it.  And then a few hours later I heard from a manager at the hotel apologizing and offering a free night say if I wanted to visit again.

This is all rather impressive.

The Hilton team found my blog post and quickly moved into action.  By doing so, I never got around to posting on Trip Advisor, as I was planning to, and I’m softening my original post a bit, dropping the “avoid the Minneapolis Hilton” line.

This shows why companies should monitor social media; by watching what people say on-line, companies can identify unhappy customers and address the situation to limit the damage.  Every company should be doing this.

I suspect it is far easier to create a responsive social media team than to educate all the front line staff.  It isn’t as effective but it provides a second chance.

Hilton ultimately did a nice job responding to the situation.

8 Responses

  1. Reflecting on your notion on companies monitoring social media, I am also thinking on the other side of the coin: who are the customers who are leaving the reviews in internet / social media? They are mostly those who are (exceptionally) unsatisfied with service and the ones who are (extremely exceptionally) satisfied with the service. Although I am an agile reader of evaluations and critics in internet portals, I am doing it with reservations, as they do not necesserely portray the true service.

    Do you have a stand on it from marketing point of view? (E.g. how hard should the companies bother to satisfy especially every angry customer, where they might have a huge pool of fairly happy ones?)

    I am glad, though, that it worked well in your case.

    P.S. Moreover, different customers have different standards, criteria, preferences etc, so what is superb service for someone might be a mediocre for you – but that is a totally different topic alltogether.

  2. Courtney says:

    I had an issue at the same Hilton last summer. However, they responded pretty quickly after I wrote an angry email to Hilton. I got a quick response via email and the manager. Like you, I’m a simple traveler, but I travel a lot so the basics must be met. They recovered quite nicely, however the Hilton Garden Inn’s great customer service kept me out of the Minneapolis Hilton for the past 4 months. It’s hard to find good service and I tend to stick close to it when I find it.

    On another note, I had issues that same week with American Airlines…however even over email they did absolutely nothing about it. Customer Service does not seem to be high on their list…

  3. Carol Stark says:

    Professor Calkins, do think the fact that you are a Kellogg Professor influenced the response time?

    • Tim Calkins says:

      Carol—Thanks for the comment. That could have played a role, certainly. But since the initial response came from Hilton’s social media team I suspect my post was flagged just as any other post would be flagged.


  4. Yousef Shaban says:

    Good call by Hilton, like you said, at least they recovered.

    Such social-media services – companies that monitor the internet for you – are widely available now. No reason for any large corporation, or even mid-size corporation, to not be able to afford it and have at least a small staff dedicated to it.

    Still, you shouldn’t wait til the customer is so disappointed that he or she goes out and posts or blogs about it before you do anything. I can only imagine how many customers they are leaving unhappy because those customers haven’t blogged or tweeted about their experience yet.

  5. Tim,

    This is a great story and a wake-up call for marketers at companies everywhere. We all have our own moments-of-truth encounters!

    Thanks for sharing it.

    Phil Corse, Global Marketing, Kellogg

  6. I would hope that the solution addresses the big picture problem– a general customer service issue– and not the specific problem (your issue in MN). I suspect they may only do the latter, though, a “squeaky wheel” approach to customer service.

    • Tim Calkins says:

      I agree! Social media monitoring is a good thing, but it doesn’t reduce the importance of ensuring the front line employees consistently deliver great service and proactively address issues.

Join the conversation