Using Guest Survey Satisfaction Tracking System Results to Improve Each Department Score

By Marco Albarran Managing Director, Remarkable Hospitality, Inc. | October 12, 2014

How can we increase guest satisfaction scores in our establishments? The following article touches base on an opportunity that will help your establishment increase your guest satisfaction scores not just from a macro-perspective, but also from a departmental point of view. What we observed is that educating your staff and involving them in these guest satisfaction scores in more detail, will actually be able to engage your employees better and also they will be able to understand a lot of correlation of what they do, in conjunction with guest satisfaction and the service experience. By doing this, you may be able to increase guest satisfaction scores by an average of 5% overall, annually.

For this write up, we will not focus on guest reviews that are typically found online. We will focus on actual Guest Satisfaction Tracking Systems and how they can be a great tool to increase awareness, service in general and opportunity for education on how employees can make a difference. One great thing about guest satisfaction tracking systems is that almost everyone knows about them and how they function, in terms of how to fill them out. They also assume, sometimes, that companies do not take these seriously, so this is why we also notice that guest and clients may not take the time to fill them out. In reality, it seems they prefer to go online and post more on social media sites (which in reality is a different concept that we cannot compare). However, there is opportunity to also capture a high percentage of guest comments via demonstrating some of the ideas that we will present below. I will demonstrate one case situation to further explain this.

Typically, establishments send out emails to guest/clients a guest comment card that they can fill out post an experience stating or doing business with our establishment. We as the establishment want to get these comments back with genuine answers that help improve the experience for the guest, as we do learn that the demand of the guest drives the way that we deliver the service they expect. After all, we have spent plenty on market research trying to figure out how our target segments are and acquiring them. We now need to retain them and have them become a marketing tool for us as well. Comments cards provide a lot of genuine answers that we can use for continuous improvement. Now, who is managing this in your establishment, meaning, who is receiving the comment cards back from corporate, and who is analyzing and tracking what is going on based on the number of questions provided in these comment cards? Are we then categorizing which questions pertain to a specific department, and are they being made aware of what is going on, so they have the information to make the changes that are worth the investment (I say that because not all categories may be relevant to immediately resolve, if it is not weighing in as much as perhaps other significant categories, say, intangible services versus products)?

One hotel that we dealt with was struggling to make it to the top three, monthly, in their Geogroup, based on Guest Satisfaction Scores. They would be at number 4 or 5, and their overall gust satisfaction scores were in a range of 76-81% monthly, which is not terrible by any means, however it could be much better, having so much potential, being a strong lodging demand market and location, in addition to a beautiful product setting for its brand. After observing an annual trend of the Geo Group and their positioning, we observed that there were two other hotels in the Geogroup that were always hitting an average of 86% and 92%, respectively, and were always ranked number one and number two. The subject hotel also did not do any sort of follow up on these scores, they would just be briefly discussed in a manager's meeting once a month, so there was not too much emphasis on this. However the bulk of the meetings were always marketing driven, more so than averaging it in with other possible topics, including an important one such as customer retention, which we have identified as a way to maintain a healthy financial statement. A suggestion implemented was to have a designated employee that had the ability to lea d and the opportunity of studying these scores monthly, analyzing them, and creating a service plan to implement, alongside with some goals to possibly increase the scores to a more reasonable rank, where it would demonstrate a strong level of competitiveness and service awareness. A personalized follow up to each of the guests having completed this survey is one of the last, but continuing efforts that can demonstrate that their time invested in filling this out was in fact taken seriously. This is where a Service Leader is born.

The Service Leader can be an existing employee, and can gather all data necessary from the guest service satisfaction system, creating a spreadsheet of how each of the 20-25 categories in the establishment are rated collectively by all former guests that have completed and submitted this. They can gather the respective guest survey questions that pertain to each department affected, and used as a follow up to communicate to department heads. The best thing to do is to conduct a monthly service meeting where these results are discussed in a big picture scale, and then each department can also see which of their categories did well and which ones need improvement. This is a great meeting because all department heads know where the hotel stands in rankings against their Geo-group, and they also have vital information that they can take back to their department, meet with their employees and create solutions as a continuous and proactive service approach. Additionally, each department head should invest some time in thanking each guest that completed this in order to demonstrate, as we mentioned earlier, that their feedback contributed to furthering the success of their preferred facility. For example, The GM and service leader can call those who had a great experience, and each department head can call those who had issues in their respective departments, given their score and seek a solution. Have them invite the guest back and if needed, incentivize them for giving us a second chance. We observed that approximately 90% of these guests were very pleased with this follow up.

We consistently did this for a quarter and we started seeing that the overall scores were increasing to 84% and by the end of one year, we did see that the stabilizing percentage rate of overall guest satisfaction was 86%. This actually helped to see how there was room to increase the overall guest scores by involving each department. We did sit down in some departmental meetings, where managers, alongside with the service leader discussed and brainstormed the outcomes and scores, both macro and micro scores, as well as ways to improve the overall scores in their department. Line level employees were vocal and eager to participate and also it did show that they felt valued, since we genuinely cared about them being involved and sharing what they thought could be possible solutions to resolve this. In addition, we did see service language and communication improve with other departments when they communicated, as they truly understood the impact that they could make in terms of increasing percentage points.

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