What lies are your metrics tellingA Bain survey recently shared that 80 percent of company executives believed they delivered a “superior experience” to their customers. But when Bain asked the executive’s same customers about their own perceptions, only 8 percent of customers felt those companies were really delivering. That’s a huge disconnect. How can that be?

Great social media metrics often disguise mediocre performance.

That’s what happens when metrics are focused inwardly on company performance instead of customer experience. It happens everywhere but nowhere is it as pernicious as in social media. We’ve been thinking about this quite a bit and a story may illustrate the principle.

Consider a recent example, of a pretty good customer experience. I was flying to Las Vegas to keynote the SEMA online marketing conference. I was on the plane way too early and connected to wifi. I started hoping that the hotel might allow me to check in early. If not I would kill a little time and head out to meetings at other venues. Maybe you can relate.

I sent out this tweet to the Cosmopolitan Hotel:

They responded within 20 minutes with this tweet:

From the hotel’s perspective their quick response time probably met their goals of responding to all tweets in a timely manner. In fact, the recent research supports the fact when a consumer tweets to a brand 65 percent of them want a response in two hours or less, with 20 percent expecting a response in 30 minutes or less. They also expect response times to be faster if it is an actual complaint, my tweet wasn’t. The Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas is performing better than most. I wonder how their executives would measure the opportunity cost of this response.

Here are some additional facts to consider so you can take the hotel guest’s perspective:

  • Normal check-in time is 3:00 PM. I was arriving around 1:30PM.
  • I was able to easily check in to my hotel room at 1:30pm. Happy to be able to hang up my clothes and then head out for my meetings.
  • My hotel room was being paid for by SEMA since I was their guest. To put that in context their conference brings in around 150,000 visitors to Las Vegas, one of the five largest events in Las Vegas.
  • I sent them a Tweet to initiate a conversation. I am not a celebrity or very influential, in case they might be looking at Klout scores or something similar. However, about 30,000 people follow me on Twitter.

This is not a fact, but I speculate that their Social Media team functions in a silo and have their own metrics of success. They probably have an organizational data problem, they may not have access to any other hotel information.

Oh, and by-the-way, my overall experience staying at the hotel was an A-, might I feel more connected to the hotel if I received a different response? Perhaps.

The Cosmopolitan hotel did not give me any additional information that I already didn’t know in their tweet. The response was lame. Even if they were super busy and had no hotel rooms for early check-in, I would understand that it happens. I just wanted to save the trip to the hotel and the cab fare if they were not ready for me.

My friend Ted Rubin, co-author of Return on Relationship, said “They didn’t engage; they gave you a pre-written, boiler-plate response (that could have been automated), and missed an opportunity to build a relationship and be remarkable. At the very least they could have said ‘Thanks for reaching out Bryan. Reach out when you are on your way and we will check for you.'”

If you were in charge of Social Media for the Cosmopolitan Hotel what would have done? Please comment on your response if there was a room or if there wasn’t.

I hope your social media metrics are telling you the truth.

P.S. The biggest irony of this situation is that I was headed to present on Amazon.com’s customer centricity & amazing business performance while chatting on the plane with someone from WholeFoods discussing their focus on customer experience.

Please share if you think others would benefit.