Omni-Channel Listening: The Coexistence of Social, Guest Survey Programs and Brand Marketing
By Jon Black Principal Consultant, Clarabridge | January 2015
As more and more hospitality marketers have begun to struggle with the omnipotent presence of social data and how it affects their brand, they have begun to question the very issue of branding itself. Only through Omni-channel listening - what some may call data blending – of data of all forms (ie. survey, Social, call-centers, emails, etc.) can we truly understand the volume, sentiment and impact that the voice of the customer has on our continued efforts to drive brand loyalty, guest satisfaction and profits.
In the late 20th century, the voice of the customer was limited by the method of the day. Comment cards and mailers were crucial to garnering guest feedback on the products and services offered. As administrators, we realized that the method had potential for fraud, data gaps and low response rates, not to mention data entry and printing costs, but still we incentivized our staff based on these results. For the guest, the voice of the customer was muffled, since there was no incentive to provide feedback other than to family and friends, leading hoteliers to fall back on the old adage "an unhappy customer tells ten".
Voice of the Customer 1.0: Surveys
Then came the disruption of the email survey. As technology evolved in the 1990's, it became easier to set up listening posts – to distribute and track feedback as more and more customers were freely giving up email information. As brands, we were able to set up in-depth surveys, benchmark, monitor feedback, gauge problems and their detriment, and attempt to understand the merits of linear marketing strategies. By the end of the decade and into the 2000's, emailed survey programs were delivering some of the highest response rates ever seen in the social sciences – some topping 35%.
But did we understand our customer and our target demographic? Were we asking the right questions? In this context, there are those that say a survey can only tell you what you want to hear, and not what our customer really wants to tell us. Perhaps this very thought kept management up at night.
We were also tasked with an onslaught of data. We had only begun to understand that data mining was a path toward understanding our customer, but that we lacked the personnel or resources to administer it. We had scores to monitor, and problems to fix on the front lines, but not in real-time. And if the guest left us a comment, we had no real way to analyze it at scale.