Guest Blog Post: Sandals Resorts – LOVE Social Media

Sandals Resorts L.O.V.E.s Its Guests

Sandals Resorts believes in providing guests with the very best Luxury-Included® amenities and making good on their motto, “Love Is All You Need”. Being a Caribbean family-run company and a couples-only luxury all inclusive, it only seems natural that “love” has become the mantra for its Social Media and Online Customer Service team. Sandals Resorts L.O.V.E. their guests and aim to show this adoration in every aspect of their service from offline to online.

L – Listening

As with all healthy and successful relationships, you have to take the time to listen. Online review sites like TripAdvisor are popular forums for guests to share their experiences, give other travellers advice and express what they’d like to see in the future. As a result, Sandals Resorts have actually dedicated full-time team members of their Social Media team whose sole function is to engage with and listen to guests on online review sites. These team members treat each review, whether positive or negative, as a chance listen and learn from guests. They personally reach out to guests and gets at the heart of each concern in an effort to share this feedback with leadership and operations teams. They show return guests that they’ve listened and, since it’s a public forum, show potential guests that they are continually evolving to meet guests’ needs and wants…but we’ll get to that part later!

O – Opportunity

A part of why Sandals Resorts has been so wildly successful and voted world’s best 18 years in a row by consumers is that they are committed to innovation. The story of how Beaches Resorts was created is one of listening to feedback and an spotting opportunity. The Beaches Resorts brand has the same Luxury-Included® concept as Sandals Resorts, but are open for everyone to book (not just couples.) After visiting some of the world’s most romantic resorts at Sandals, many couples found themselves with a need for a resort that is open to kids too…usually 9 months later. Sandals Resorts listened to this feedback and spotted an undeniable opportunity, and in 1997, they opened the doors to its first luxury all-inclusive brand that welcomed families: Beaches Resorts.

Taking the daily practice of spotting opportunities through listening a step further, the brand developed the Culinary Concierge Program. Travelling with kids can be challenging and if you add in a few food allergies, finding an accommodating place to vacation with your family can be even more taxing. The development of the Culinary Concierge Program stemmed from the growing need for safe yet tasty food options for kids and adults with allergies and special dietary requests. Now, anyone can call in advance and speak with a personal on-resort Culinary Concierge to help plan out meals at any restaurant. Sandals Resorts doesn’t shy away from special requests, they embrace them and that’s what sets a truly luxurious experience apart from the rest.

On resort, they keep their eyes and ears open to observe what guests are saying. They often share the story of a butler guest who wanted to propose to his girlfriend on the beach. The butler immediately began to set up a romantic candlelight dinner on the beautiful white-sand beach. Unfortunately, it rained that evening and the guest was forced to change his plans…or so he thought. The butler sent the guest and his girlfriend out for dinner and spent the evening creating a beach experience on the couple’s private balcony! With a few well-placed umbrellas, seashells, flowers, sand and beach balls, this butler was able to give this couple an experience they will surely never forget…not to mention, an engagement story for the books! It’s all about recognizing an opportunity to “wow” guests.

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V – Vocalize

Sandals Resorts breaks down its vocalizing opportunities into two parts: internally and externally.

  • Internally – Their Social Media “Listening” Team reports weekly to a central leadership team. This means each resort is able to learn from an experience that occurred at another resort. If there is a reoccurring challenge, it is resolved for all properties from just one property’s experience. All guest feedback finds its way back to our key decision makers and from this, they’re able to grow together.
  • Externally – As mentioned before, Sandals Resorts doesn’t shy away from issues or suggestions; they embrace them, so naturally responding to guests is extremely important. They frequently engage one-on-one with guests to see that their needs and desires are met while on resort. Online, they interact with guests across all social channels, whether it is a response to a question or just sharing in their vacation excitement. They’ve even been know to take polls on social media to make operational decisions. For example, what kind of premium rum they should serve (by the way, that’s included, too!)

In a lot of cases, the internal and external vocalization comes together seamlessly. One of their dedicated Online Review Coordinators, Lauren, noticed a review from a bride-to-be who was having some pre-travel concerns. Lauren reached out to the bride, got all of her information and then internally vocalized with the wedding and resort teams who immediately got together to resolve any outstanding issues and ensure that from that moment onward, she had a great experience. The team worked together, the bride had a fantastic wedding (which she raved about online with a follow-up review) and is currently planning a romantic getaway to another one of their resorts. True story! Listening and identifying opportunities means nothing if there is no communication.

E – Evolve

Sandals Resorts CEO Adam Stewart preaches the gospel of innovation every day of life. He believes that innovation has always been and will always be the way forward for Sandals and Beaches Resorts – it’s what sets them apart. They continuously invest in their properties located in Jamaica, Bahamas, Antigua, St. Lucia, Grenada and Barbados every year. This tradition is a way of practicing what they preach because they must invest to evolve. He challenges each team, “It’s good but how can we make it better?”

Take a look at their newest property: Sandals LaSource Grenada. This resort was the brand’s opportunity to take all of the feedback they had listened to, all of the opportunities spotted and get together as a team to discuss the evolution of the brand. Sandals LaSource Grenada takes innovation beyond the ream of their guests imagination with pools in the sky, Japanese soaking tubs on the balcony, swim-up suites, living rooms in the pool, and so much more. It was created by taking feedback from guests and reimagining it to meet every expectation they never knew they had.

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Sandals Resorts were built for love so it’s not surprise that they L.O.V.E their guests on social media and customer service as well through Listening, Opportunities, Vocalizing and Evolving.

You can find Sandals Resorts on social at:

www.facebook.com/SandalsResorts

www.twitter.com/SandalsResorts

www.instagram.com/Sandalsresorts

 

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4 Keys to Excellent Customer Service

Customer service. We’ve all had our fair share of positive and negative experiences, and more often than not the worst experiences are the ones that stand out in our memories for years to come. When I started my company, Advocate Market Research, more than 15 years ago my goal was to help businesses gain a truer picture of their consumers by becoming the ‘voice’ of their consumer, and ultimately their ‘advocate.’ And when it comes to customer service, isn’t that what we all want, an advocate? Someone that will support our stance and empathize with our experience whether good or bad. So before you respond to your next customer service issue, here are 4 Key Tips to help ensure that your customer’s experience is a positive one.

1.) Listen, Listen, Listen: I’ve seen it all too often – a customer shares a frustration or complaint about a product or service and the company responds immediately by talking, explaining and trying to rationalize the issue. So what’s the problem? Consumers want to be heard and understood. Before jumping to a quick solution, take the time to truly listen, empathize and acknowledge the customer’s situation. By acting as a listening board, you will provide a safe place for your customers to share their frustrations and suggestions.

2.) Unpack the Baggage: While your customers might be disappointed with your service or product for a various number of reasons, we can’t forget they are also bringing their own baggage to that experience. Maybe they’ve had multiple bad experiences with your company or perhaps it’s something deeper? No matter what the situation, context is always key. Unless you understand the baggage, you won’t understand why they are responding in a certain way. Know your customers, know their baggage and you will excel at customer service.

3.) Make it Personal: In a world filled with technology and automation, never lose sight of the fact that it’s people in the end that we are really trying to relate to and understand. It’s our job to listen and act as a customer advocate, so try to understand and speak at their level. Whether it’s a face-to-face experience, a phone call or a personal message, taking the time to relate to your customers on a personal level speaks volumes. And vice versa – nothing aggravates a frustrating customer service experience like a lack of sincerity or genuine concern.

4.) Don’t Just React, Respond: How you respond to your customers and the way you extend the olive branch matters. When I think of the word react I think of a quick action, or an impulse, something with little thought or reflection. Do not simply react to your consumers, instead take the time to listen and respond with a sincere solution. Oftentimes companies will spot a negative comment about their service or product on social media and quickly react by deleting the comment or blocking the user. May this never be! Instead – we should see these types of interactions as opportunities to let our customer service skills shine! By showing your followers how you respond to a negative complaint you are letting your customers know that you truly care and will do whatever it takes to make the situation right.

At the end of the day there isn’t a secret formula for excelling at customer service. Simply listen, make it personal, and take the time to truly understand what your customer wants and needs. Invest in your customer and they will invest in you.