Every morning I take the bus to work. When I get on the bus, I greet the driver and when I get off the bus, I try to make eye contact with the driver and say “thank you.” I do this because I appreciate that the bus driver got me to my destination safely. I appreciate that the driver has to drive around all day, deal with traffic and cranky passengers. One day as I got off the bus and neglected to say thank you, I realized that so many people go to work, day in and day out, without so much as a thank you or an atta boy.
I’ve noticed that when I say thank you to the driver, many of them look at me with a look that is a combination of surprise and appreciation…I don’t think it happens for them very often.
What’s equally as interesting is the number of times the bus driver looks back at me and says “thank you” and wishes me a good rest of the day.
Being on both sides is a thankless jobs in most cases…
What does this have to do with the hospitality industry?
The hospitality industry revolves around a number of factors. For restaurants we can immediately think of the food, the drinks, the prices, the ambiance, the service. For hotels factors include cleanliness of the room, quality of room service, amenemties in the room, etc.
Some of these things are tangible, they can be ordered from a purveyor, other factors are more intangible, they require a different set of tools; appreciation, empathy, sincerity.
Ultimately the difference between two establishments is how they make you feel. Are they warm? Do they go the extra mile for you? Did they thank you for coming in or staying with them?
Did you feel like you were hassling them when you asked for a straw a second time? Did you get the sense that you weren’t the type of customer they wanted or expected? On your way out did anyone appreciate you for coming in and spending money?
What does this have to do with Social Media Marketing?
I just wrote that headline and got a sinking feeling in my stomach because I think Marketing has become a bad word. It’s become synonymous with “selling people crap they don’t want.” Perhaps it’s that stigma that draws me to Social Media Marketing in the first place; I think Social gives us the opportunity to be better than that as Marketers.
Social Media has given every average Joe with an internet connection a voice, whether they want to rave and complain. When I talk about marketing in the context of this discussion I’m talking about using these channels to meet people where they are. I’m talking about appreciating their circumstance and experience whether they are happy or angry. I think that the hospitality business is heavily reliant on loyalty and what better way to improve that loyalty then by being loyal to your customers.
If someone posts an angry tweet about a restaurant they’ve just been to, the restaurant would be smart to engage with that person to try and make it right. That’s a form of marketing, it’s also customer service.
If someone writes a blog post raving about the service they got at your hotel, you should reach out to them and let them know you appreciate their feedback. Say thank you. That’s marketing, it’s also customer service.
Saying thank you whether it is for good feedback or bad is a form of marketing and it’s never been more easy to find those conversations than it is now.
Being a good customer
So many of us get wrapped up in ourselves, in our good days or bad days, that we often overlook how we let our baggage affect how we treat others. There’s a lot of bad service out there but there’s also a lot of bad customers out there. As a customer I think we have a responsibility to treat customer service people better if we are going to expect better customer service. That means waiters, cab drivers, customer service representatives from a call center. We need to treat others are we wish to be treated.
Who can you thank today?
True story, once upon a time I read Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People [affiliate link] and in that book there is a concept that one of the greatest human desires is the desire to be acknowledged.
Think about yourself for a moment, wouldn’t it be nice to have some more validation in your day? Wouldn’t it be nice for someone to look at the work you’ve done and thank you for the effort? As a customer, wouldn’t you like to be thanked for choosing to spend your money somewhere?