Friday, April 11, 2008

Word of Mouth Marketing: An Expedia Experience

My wife Deborah is a marketing professional who has taught me a lot about the emerging power of word-of-mouth marketing. We have taken turns running our consulting and technology company Windward Solutions while the other has a day job. Since April it has been my turn to be 'Jeff on a jet'.

I booked my first trip through It was a package deal that included airfare and a hotel booking with Embassy Suites. I arrived at my destination and found that the hotel had no record of my reservation. Fortunately, they had a room and so I checked-in. When it came time to check out; however, I was faced with a second bill to pay for the same reservation. This was an order fulfillment problem between Expedia and Embassy Suites, not my problem.

I tried to get to speak with a person at Expedia about this double payment problem, and unfortunately American Airlines had canceled thousands of flights and the wait was interminable. I sent an email to the Expedia support desk explaining the situation and providing the details. I was told that they could not handle my complaint and that I needed to wait forever in their phone queue to be helped. I'm not inclined to do that, since this is not my problem, so I called my credit card company and contested the charge.

By the way, they had charged two transactions: one for the airfare and another for the hotel. The hotel charge was $133 more than the actual charge on my bill - some package deal.

What does this have to do with word-of-mouth marketing? Well, I know that there are many people who routinely search the blogosphere for what customers are saying about their experiences with corporations. There are also companies, such as Satmetrix, Biz360 and others (help me out here Deb), that do this for a living. So, I'm sending this little anecdote off into the blogosphere in the fond hope that it will show up as a black mark on Expedia's record. In Net Promoter terms, I am now a detractor. Sorry Expedia.

But I'm fair. If they can resolve this problem quickly and to my satisfaction then I will post that result too and perhaps consider them again when I travel on business. I'm not going to call them; however, but I've given them my cell phone number so they can call me. I usually answer it right away and there is no annoying phone triage for my callers so they will get to a real person immediately.

What does this have to do with cloud computing? What if I could boil the Internet and distill out for you what people are saying about your company and your products?

1 comment:

Jeff said...

Ok, I said I would be fair. After finally sitting through Expedia's phone triage I got to talk with a real person who did say they would give me a full refund. I did not actually give that person any more information than was contained in my email interaction. I still think they should have handled it asynchronously.