Collecting Feedback From All of Your Guests

By Jonathan Barsky Partner, Market Metrix | April 20, 2014

Hospitality companies are faced with almost endless opportunities to pick up customer feedback. But collecting feedback isn't like it used to be. New technology has changed how we communicate and offers an expanding array of options. As a result, customers have embraced different technologies and ways to connect with each other.

So how do you reach all of your customers? No single method of collecting guest feedback works with all guests. The email survey that a Boomer will click is often dismissed by Millennials. At the same time, relying on social media feedback overlooks a really big part of the population. Only about half of people over 65 use the Internet, and only 18% of them own a cell phone, let alone use Twitter or Facebook. Meanwhile, adults in their 20s and 30s spend nearly 20 hours a week online, more and more of it on a mobile device. And young adults 18-24 spend close to two hours a day on social media.

If you want to hear from all your customers, you need to tune into the channels where they're comfortable. By using a combination of feedback methods – email and mobile surveys, contacts during the guest stay, facility usage data and even simple observation – your company can get a complete picture of your entire customer mix. Let's take a look at each method and how they work together to create a comprehensive feedback collection strategy.

Direct Guest Surveys

The fundamental building block for operational improvement in hospitality is direct guest feedback. Although guest feedback comes in many forms, one of the most useful is structured feedback from guest surveys. Because surveys are associated with a specific guest and typically designed to cover a broad range of guest experiences, they are a practical and effective feedback instrument.

Survey data often play an important role in service recovery, quality assurance and compliance, incentive compensation, continuous improvement, employee development, resource allocation and more.

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.