Consumers are searching on social for recommendations.

When the #1 selection comes up, they choose. I’d like to say it is due to great reviews about customer experience or value for the money, but in reality, it is likely something else.

We were tourists in the city of canals. Therefore, the desire to experience Amsterdam from the water was undeniable. We searched for a provider of canal tours online using keywords, best canal tour: Netherlands.

Bought the tickets, queued up the day of, were briefed, tickets scanned, and we boarded. Set a-sale, we heard a bit about local lore, and then nothing. Not more than ten minutes in, we were floating in a “boat parking lot” with the captain gone silent. Then a word about how lucky we were to experience something that happens only a few times a year. A car had fallen into the canal! How deep is the canal, how much of that is mud, and how does this happen ALL THE TIME with BIKES (some 15K last year alone the captain quipped)? But due to this mishap, we were not able to proceed with our tour.

Apologies all around, an offer of an expedient re-fund or re-booking, directions to the next steps, sincere thank you for understanding. There were heartfelt apologies from the employees as passengers disembarked. Sincere disappointment that they could not share this adventure with us. The empathy that this impacted the time in their city. One would expect devastation for voyagers having their day plans altered; nonetheless, there were smiles as we bonded over this unique shared experience.

As a group, we followed employees across the street to their office where we had been instructed our names would be collected and we would have our choice of restitution. It started to snow. We watched as the tour guide displayed a blank 8-1/2 by 11-inch piece of paper and pen. We scoffed as he transcribed names, emails, and using our phones, new tour times. We left only after the employee had our confirmation that we were satisfied. “We’ll never hear back about this…”. But hours later the email appeared. We were re-booked!

Problems will happen. How you set your employees up to manage them will distinguish your company. Empower employees to action issues, display empathy, and confirm satisfaction. Problem resolution makes customers raving fans. It can make your company the #1 searched for recommendations.

Linda Amraen, Global Director of Client Services, Hospitality – BARE International