Online Reputation Management for Travel Agencies: Prevention
“Online Reputation Management (ORM)” is the terminology now given to those PR efforts geared to managing and monitoring a company’s brand image in the online market place. As we discussed yesterday, one of the most important strategies in ORM involves prevention – providing communication channels with your clients that allows complaints to be addressed and remedied in a controlled fashion.
Pro-actively manage your reputation by ensuring that your business ethic and practice are client-centric. In a very clear fashion, let your clients know that their satisfaction is important to you and your travel practice.
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Naturally, the best way to deal with customer complaints is to never give the customer a reason to complain! Go to great lengths to design business practices that accommodate and surround the client with safeguards. Many complaints can be avoided by “training” your clientele, anticipating possible sources of customer dissatisfaction and briefing the client on possible inconveniences and scenarios.
Provide your clients a clearly articulated procedure for the resolution of any problems. If the problem is with a supplier, let the client know that you will act as their advocate and will investigate any problems they may encounter. If the situation arises in your own camp, the following suggestions will usually help.
First and foremost, listen to the customer. It is seldom that a good client complains for no reason. No matter how poorly a customer may present a complaint, it will almost always have some basis. Ascertain the core of the complaint and get to the heart of the matter.
Secondly, remain helpful. Do not take a complaint personally. Even if a complaint is without merit, treat the customer as you would like to be treated. Chances are that the client is already in a charged emotional state. Avoid becoming defensive. Defuse the situation by being sympathetic and listening. Assure the client that their complaint is important and that it is your policy to assist all parties to resolve problems in favor of the customer whenever possible.
Finally, follow up! Determine the merit of the complaint and, importantly, document your findings. Your good relationship with the suppliers you used will come in handy now. Report back to the client with your documentation in hand and spend time explaining the situation. The remedy may be small, even non-existent, but your interest and sincere concern for your client will assist you both in getting through a difficult situation. If the client sees an honest and sincere attempt at dealing with a mistake or problem, there are less likely to publically air a grievance.
These simple steps will not guarantee that a client will not publish a review of your company online. However, a policy of prevention and a systematic internal resolution process will provide a channel within which many clients will remain when problems arise.