The Dangers of Ignoring Social CRM

Gather around, it is story time on the Travel 2.0 Blog.

Last week, my family and I took a much needed trip to Walt Disney World, the capital of tourism, for spring break.  Any excuse to get back to Florida, visit the family and eat a giant turkey leg is always a good trip.

Anyway, since we were only visiting Disney, we opted to use the ‘Magical Express’ bus service from OIA to the resort.  This devious service is free (amazing, but without a rental car, you are not going anywhere) and provides a nice ride for you and your luggage to the resort.  We got on, took a 15 minute ride and ended up at Disney around 8pm.

In the meantime, magical fairies should be delivering our luggage to the room, so that it is waiting for us upon on return from dinner.

Alas, walking back into the room at 11:00pm, no luggage.  Nor at midnight, 1:00am or 1:30am.

Now, I won’t bore you with the details, but needless to say the 2:15am arrival of our luggage…after several calls and trips to the front desk…was not the ideal way to start our vacation.

Those of you with kids are nodding along right about now.

And while I mentioned my disappointment with the front desk, I thought this was a perfect opportunity for a social experiment.  How would the average tourist, who uses Twitter, respond in this situation and in turn, how would Disney World reply?

Wanting to avoid any conflicts with tweeting a message from the Travel 2.0 account, I sent this message from my personal and relatively unknown Twitter account:

Awful service. @waltdisneyworld airport luggage delivery took 6 hours. Could have done that myself.

I purposely set up the tweet with several thoughts in mind:

  1. My @troydthompson account does not immediately say ‘Hey, I might blog about this so answer my crazy tweet.’  Although it is not hard to make the connection.
  2. I wanted to use the @waltdisneyworld profile name specifically.  They clearly have an official account and I thought it only fair to address them directly.
  3. I did not go overboard with the tweet, just a simple note on what happened.
  4. I sent the tweet the next morning, rather than 2:30am to increase the odds that someone would/could see it.
  5. I wanted to replicate what an average traveler might do in this situation.

Unfortunately for Disney and our readers, that is pretty much the end of the story.

No response.

No ‘Hey @troydthompson, sorry about that. -Mickey.’


Now, if I am a typical traveler I am still mad about the original issue, but now I also feel slighted by the lack of a response.  I have told you I am having an issue, attempted to contact you directly, but heard nothing back.

Maybe next time we will head to Universal Studios instead.

So let’s add up the collateral damage:

  • 140 @troydthompson followers know that Disney did not live up to my expectations.
  • About 5,000 readers (give or take a few) will read this entire post.
  • And just for the sake of argument, let’s add in another 250 or so that will hear this story second-hand. ‘Oh, don’t use the Magical Express, I heard that the service is crap.’

And all because no one was on Twitter-watch.

Just imagine if I was a mommy-blogger…that would have been ugly.

But let’s look at the bigger CRM picture when talking about this example.  And in this case, not sales CRM, but consumer CRM.

How many resorts, cruise lines, attractions, hotels, etc, etc. spend untold sums of money on the mythical idea of Customer Relationship Marketing or CRM, only to miss out on key insights into what the consumer is really thinking?

From a CRM perspective, you need to start accounting for the social CRM that your consumers are engaging in.  Sure, Disney knows that I opened two emails and called the dining reservation phone number, but do they know how I feel about the un-magical Magical Express?  They should, but I doubt it.

A consumer’s Facebook and Twitter profile name are just as valuable as an email address, but how many of us capture this information about our audience?  Beyond that, how many of us actually have a system in place to, at the very least, monitor the conversations about our brand on these social sites.  Let’s not even think about a system that would include a live feed of my tweets in my account profile dashboard, that is so 2011.

Social has destroyed any semblance of a coordinated CRM system…I could be talking about your brand on any number of social sites and you would, potentially (but not excused), have no idea.

But Troy, Twitter is just a fad, we don’t need to worry about what people are tweeting about us.  If we don’t see it, it does not exist.

Ignore at your own peril my friend.

If you have a call center, guest services desk, CRM system, help desk, concierge or any other guest relations policy why would it not include the social side?

Forget where the comment is coming from.

If someone told you they were unhappy with your product, you would respond appropriately.  Not ask ‘yeah, but did they call us or send us a letter?’ The medium is irrelevant if you are committed to providing customer service.

Let’s be honest, I am not sure if Twitter will be around 5 years from now, but I can tell you that consumer complaints will be.  And whether they are 140 characters or not, they still demand a response.

Ah, the dangers of social CRM.

Comment? @travel2dot0 or email.