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Book it! Travel Sites Providing Customer Service over Twitter

Glenn Pacitti
By Glenn Pacitti on Mar 20, 2014 1:44:00 PM
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When analyzing the social customer service performance of leading hotels last week, we noticed many customers posting customer support issues to their original point of purchase: third party travel reservation sites.  As a follow up, we decided to use our Twitter Tracker to analyze the social customer service performance of ten leading hotel reservation sites.

Research shows that nearly a third of hotel reservations are made through the websites that list vacant rooms from a wide range of hotels, giving the customer options and ability to filter based on factors such as location, price, reviews and much more.

Online travel sites face a number of challenges similar to internet retailers, namely the need to provide a great customer experience without having an in-store customer service presence. Additionally,the increasing use of mobile for hotel booking allows guests the ability to quickly engage with reservation sites via social. As a result, it’s especially important that these sites delight their customers on whichever channel they are seeking support.

Hotel Social Customer ServiceThe Majority Responded to Few @ Mentions:

The biggest thing that hotel booking sites can stand to improve is their responsiveness to @mentions. On average, the brands analyzed responded to only 11.8% of direct mentions. While not all mentions of a brand handle require a response, customer engagement is especially important in a competitive market. The best way for these brands to improve their responsiveness––and make sure that no customer queries go unanswered––would be to use a technology solution that is able to prioritize urgent issues for quick response and enable agents to work through customer service issues without navigating through all the chatter. Brands should also set clear procedures for how different types of inquires should be answered, looping in other departments when necessary (ie. PR, Legal, Marketing etc).

In the case of hotel reservation sites, customers have many options  and can make a switch to a competitor quickly and easily. According to NM Incite’s State of Social Customer Service 2012, 70% of consumers who use social media for customer service are likely to do so again if they are satisfied with their experience. But for those who try and have an unsatisfactory experience, only 41% will try again.

Once again, a dedicated care handle had the best responsiveness

Last week, we recognized @HyattConcierge and @HiltonHelp for their use of Twitter to specifically resolve customer service issues. It comes as no surprise that the leader in Twitter engagement out of these 10 websites was Orbitz’s dedicated customer support handle @OrbitzCareTeam. With a response rate of 48.4%, Orbitz clearly shows they are willing and ready to receive customer service issues over Twitter.  Though a dedicated care handle is not vital to providing a good customer experience over social––there are many brands who do service from their main handle––it is clear that Orbitz has made an effort to answer social inquiries.  

The Fastest to Reply

The average response time for all of the brands analyzed was 3 hours and 21 minutes. Four sites responded in under and hour on average: Hotwire, Booking.com, TravelZoo and Hotels.com.

Still, while Hotwire had the fastest response time (18 minutes and 50 seconds), they have demonstrated a preference to redirect customer service issues to the support phone number rather than resolve in channel. Recent research by Conversocial shows the business benefits of resolving customer service issues in the users preferred channel.

While customers might have traditionally sought support from their hotels and airlines, they also now engage at scale with third party website like the ones analyzed. In these cases, multiple brands are invested in the customer’s satisfaction and need for support. For all brands involved in hotel travel, social customer service remains a catalyst for building customer loyalty and protecting existing revenue.

Want to see how you compare to the brands analyzed?

Click here for your free Twitter performance report!


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