Customer Service Through Twitter

Whenever marketing people like me have to present clients with case studies about the value a microblogging program like Twitter can bring to a company, there’s a pool of example brands we commonly point to owing to the years of experience they’ve earned and the multitude of ink and pixels those experiences have garnered. Examples include ZapposSouthwest and Ford. Just to name three.

Last month I was happy to pick up my own personal case study after an experience at the Chase Park Plaza hotel in St. Louis, where I spent a few days for business. Here’s what happened.

I was attending a client-run conference at a hotel to which I’d never been. I love using my iPhone to manage email while away from my desk but there’s only so much I can do on it before I have to switch to my laptop for document editing, spreadsheet updating, etc.

So before I left Minneapolis I checked the hotel’s website to see what their wifi options might be. A particular pet peeve at high end hotels is when they charge for Internet access in the room. Particularly when they offer it for free in common areas. And even more particularly when I consider how many other hotels often provide Net access for free.

There wasn’t any helpful information to find on the site, although I was really pleased to see the hotel had a presence on Facebook and Twitter. So I took my search to the latter and in short order received the following tweet–presumably from their customer service department: Chase Park Plaza Customer Service via Twitter

Bummer about having to use common areas, but like my father always says, “Beggars can’t be choosers.”

Unfortunately, after I arrived to the hotel and had some “free” time I learned that both the lobby area and the club lounge Net access requires you to have paid.

The front desk crew knew nothing about the supposedly free access and assured me that I’d have to pay. When I showed them the Tweet above (thank you iPhone!) they handed me a customer service (aka complaint) card to fill out.

Here’s where things made huge turns for the better. After I handed my card to the front desk they took it and then offered to give me free access from my room as an apology. I accepted, and then promptly sent a tweet back to @ChaseParkPlaza about what had happened.

The following day, they sent me the below response digitally:  Chase Park Plaza Customer Service via Twitter

I wasn’t able to pick up or respond to these Tweets until I returned to my hotel room since they had arrived during the conference I was there to attend. When I did get back to my room, I found an even more cordial–and, frankly, heartwarming–response from the hotel’s Director of Sales and Marketing:

Chase Park Plaza Traditional Customer Service

Hotel Contact Information And Log-In Detail Intentionally Smudged For This Post

Suffice it to say that I left the hotel completely content after my few days’ stay. The free access offered by the front desk crew were a means to placate. But the direct connection with the hotel’s sales and marketing department made possible through Twitter led to a more personal connection. It went a long way knowing that someone from the hotel’s management team could acknowledge feeling the same frustrations as I had. I like to think the letter would not have been likely without the back and forth that started on Twitter.

Thank you for making my stay enjoyable, Chase Park Plaza. And for giving me my own Twitter case study. Now to help other brands understand the value of microblogging and the customer relationships it can help engender.

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