Special Edition #luxchat Recap | July 2011

The July edition of #luxchat focused on, how luxury brands use social media to provide premium customer service.

Guest Moderators:



  • @AustininLA, Austin Watkins - Director of Marketing at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles.
  • @BMacJ, Mac Joseph - Social Media Marketing at Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. 
  • @JMPelz, Josh Pelz - Social Media Manager at Gansevoort Hotel Group.
  • @JorgeCollazo, Jorge Collazo - Director of Sales & Marketing Canyon Ranch, Miami Beach
  • @Michael_Ludwig, Michael Ludwig - Customer Service Specialist at Lexus.

For July, the #luxchat ladies handed the discussion over to five men we admire in luxury and social media — they did not disappoint!

Check out our TweetReach from July 20, 2011 here. The power of social media - We reached 3.8 million impressions!

Click here to “Like” our Facebook page and click here to follow us on Twitter.

Some highlights:

Q1. How important is social media in preserving the high-level of customer service expected of a luxury brand??

  • @JorgeCollazo: Social Media allows us to reach our customer directly the way they want to be reached. The brands that are not doing Social Media are perceived as not being up to today’s standards. The other important part of social media in customer service is that it is a Public Two Way street. Some of us forget that half of Social Media is just about being Social.
  • @BMacJ: Social media absolutely plays a role, but it’s only one channel through which we should be addressing cust. service. As a “luxury” brand, we need to be accessible to our customers. They deserve it!
  • @Michael_Ludwig: Lexus is all about exceeding the expectations of our customers; it helps build relationships.
  • @jmpelz: Highly! Customer service is expected of all brands, being a “luxury” brand only emphasizes that!!! It is important to be anywhere our customers may be. Social media makes that possible.
  • @lesliefineint: SM is an efficient & effective means of reaching customers & getting their feedback in a timely fashion

Q2.  Do you have set procedures for handling customer service issues online?

  • @jmpelz: The only set procedure is to respond to every request in a timely manner, positive or negative. During the day, in under 15 minutes.
  • @BMacJ: Mandarin Oriental does have set procedures, but guidelines can only take you so far. Each issue requires a unique solution.  
  • @AustininLA: We are 24/7 and should be. [Brands should respond] in minutes and not in hours.
  • @Michael_Ludwig: Lexus has a process to ensure all customer contacts are handled quickly & personally. Tweets or post are like phone calls…to be effective you want to listen, take action, and then follow up as quickly as possible.

Q3. Question. Does a brand have to respond to tweets when guests are onsite?  (v. @CruiseBuzz)

  • @LuxuryPRGal: No response is a lost opp. Why bother?
  • @BMacJ: Absolutely! If a customer is staying with us & turns to twitter to communicate, it is our responsibility to address. Each customer deserves equal attention, regardless of online influence. 
  • @EverywhereErica: Brands who only respond if you’re “influential” or if you rant against them on SM tick me off. Good customer service = serving all customer 
  • @JorgeCollazo: If a guest Tweets from property, it is very engaging to surprise them with a small gift - shows your listening.
  • @LaurBreu: We don’t have to, we want to!

Q4.  Have you experienced customer complaints on Facebook and how do you handle? Ever delete to preserve image?

  • @Michael_Ludwig: For us deleting a post is like hanging up the phone on a customer, it’s just not done! (unless offensive to groups or individuals). We look for opportunities to surprise and delight our customers not just to handle complaints.
  • @jmpelz: A response is given immediately, usually public & private. We very clearly say on the facebook page. “We reserve the right to remove comments that are factually incorrect, or we deem otherwise inappropriate.”
  • @Roopunzel: Part of my job is responding 2 Tripadvisor reviews- I relish the complaints gives me challenge in answering & learn

Q5. Do you ever follow up major complaints with email/phone calls?

  • @BMacJ: Yes, we follow up complaints through whichever channel is necessary to properly address the customer’s needs.
  • @Michael_Ludwig: Email/phone still play a large role in the Lexus SM channels. It allows us to deliver the luxury #custserv that has built our brand
  • @jmpelz: whenever the relationship can be taken off line we grab the opportunity. A phone call is great, face to face is best!

Q6. Some major brands like @GiltService have a dedicated customer service Twitter handle. Is this a good approach?? 

  • @jmpelz: Yes! What brands like Gilt, Comcast and CITI have been able to for customer service has been tremendous! At the moment we do not see the volume to necessitate a dedicated handle.

Q7.  Do you have a customer service success story you can share?

  • @Michael_Ludwig: Here is an example of Social Media helping a customer buying his first Lexus. http://bit.ly/eXIXM2
  • @BMacJ: We have many success stories. If you pay close attention, there are plenty of chances to turn negative to positive.
  • @HotelPRGuy: Biggest satisfaction for a brand - converting a guest from being skeptic to lover. Makes me smile!
  • @jmpelz: Success stories come every day! Most recently we caught someone heading to the wrong Gansevoort and re-directed them en route!

Q8. How do you encourage your guests to interact online? or they just do? (v. @Roopunzel)

  • @BMacJ: Not all of our customers want to interact with us online, which is perfectly fine. We’re here for anyone that does! 
  • @LuxeTiffany: Nice example @SonoraResort of encouraging guests to interact via social media.

Q9. Do any of you engage in forums or just management responses?

  • @jmpelz: We are everywhere our customers may be… Forums, message boards, chatrooms, twitter, facebook…. EVERYWHERE!
  • @BMacJ: We have not really begun to engage in forums. But @TripAdvisor & other review sites are important. 
  • @LuxuryTravelMom: My friend reviewed @fsseattle on @tripadvisor, it’s had 466 views in 2 weeks….powerful site.
  • @Roopunzel: Google alerts on forums enable us to know when us or our competitors are being spoken about but not enough on forums.

Q10. Should luxury brands respond to product/service improvement suggestions?

  • @BMacJ: If a customer cares enough to share ideas for improvement, a luxury brand should be excited to listen. 
  • @jmpelz: Sometimes just knowing that a brand is listening goes a very long way.
  • @JorgeCollazo: A brand should respond to improvement suggestions with honesty and facts about what they are doing about it. Some brands make the mistake of “false modesty” by not acknowledging positive feedback on SM.

Q11. What social media tools do you use to manage your brand’s online presence?

  • @BMacJ: Google Alerts are great. We use Tweetdeck, Facebook (& insights) & web analytics as well. Oh, and how could I forget my iPhone…my social media management tool on the go!!
  • @Michael_Ludwig: Our tool kit includes @Tweetdeck, @hootsuite, @CoTweet and @Radian6. We also have a daily in-house SM newsletter that goes out to all associates. Great way to keep people informed. Our newsletter includes top stories in the social space and internal social media highlights and happenings.
  • @jmpelz: The best tool that we use is @hootsuite and @google alerts. 
  • @JorgeCollazo: The best tool is whatever electronic device you keep with you, instant emails seem to work best.

Final Thoughts:

  • On the introduction of Google+: At this point, brands should just be listening on Google+ - while I love it, it’s important for brands to understand before jumping in. (v. @LuxuryPRGal)
  • Did you know the demographics of social media? Largest group 30-49 yr olds on Twitter! http://t.co/lFTiVI4 (v. @VegasBill)
  • As a customer, being able to communicate with and get a response from a luxury brand is the ultimate in great customer service. (v. @lesliefineint)
  • At the end of the day it is about being relevant, adding value and making sure that the brand lives up to service standards. (v. @CruiseBuzz)
  • One of the great things SoMe does is help weed out those who are doing it and those who are faking it. Being honest and accountable is great customer service. (v. @cestmoidiane) 
  • SM provides luxury companies the ability to be a positive constant to a client; not just there when needed. (v. @EpsteinTravels)
  1. luxchat posted this