marketing/social media

How not to respond to a complaint on social media

Two weeks ago, I stayed at the Novotel in Downtown Toronto for a work thing. Most of it was a pleasant stay, however, one morning, the whole hotel had no hot water. I called front desk, was assured they were working on it, and then naturally I took it to Twitter.

Three days later (3 days!!!) I received a reply:


After a few exchanges, I was told they would contact me via email. Now, I wasn’t expecting much, but since they had taken the time to respond (albeit very late) to my tweet, I figured maybe they would contact me to give me a travel voucher or something.

Instead, a whole week later, I received an email by the marketing manager of Novotel North America, entitled “Your feedback on Twitter”. They start of apologizing for the experience, and then:

However, if we do get the chance to welcome you back in one of our hotels please give us the chance to help you with any issue you may have by letting the hotel team know about it, during your stay.

Indeed, you have the opportunity to contact directly the Front Desk of the hotel and they should be able to assist you instantly. We just launched a new program in all our hotels “YOU: Our mission, Your satisfaction”, in which we encouraged each and every guest to tell us in the hotel and during their stay if they encounter any challenge. If we can’t fix the problem, we will make sure to compensate you (You should not have missed the communication about this program as it is communicated in the room, on the magnetic cards, on the digital screens etc…).

Firstly, yes, I did miss communication about the “new program”. I’m pretty sure most people would. Secondly, this feels strangely like I’m being reprimanded because the thing to do is to call he front desk (which, incidentally, I did) and not take to Twitter (you can do both, can’t you?).

But it gets better:

Posting your concerns on social media is not the best way to be instantly heard unfortunately as our social media team does not work 24h/7 and is unable to directly assist you as they do not work in the hotel. Communication with the hotel is therefore always a bit delayed.

ACTUALLY, I’m pretty sure the WHOLE POINT of social media is to be instantly heard. And sending me this condescending email about social media is really not helping your case.

This, to me, is social media done WRONG. It’s also customer service done wrong. But what do I know?

EDIT: The wonderful Scott Stratten at Unmarketing put this blog post into his UnPodcast! Watch/listen to it here!

11 thoughts on “How not to respond to a complaint on social media

  1. Great example and post. This reminds me of my first job out of college with Browning Ferris Industries and our on-hold message was a commercial all about how great the service is. While peeps were on hold for long periods of time waiting to give us their complaint they listened to how we deliver this wonderful service and it really added fuel to the fire. We got smart and went to music for the hold. (Smile) Thanks Y’all.

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