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Comment cards – why they are not much better than nothing – here, please take the sleeves off my vest!
Start with the premise of Feedback. This is the mechanism to report upon our performance - what we did well and what we need to improve upon. We want to keep our survey questions short (due to the respondent's attention span), simple (not tax the cranium) and relevant to our operation (so we have some benchmarks). Most importantly, we want to match our chosen Feedback mechanism to our audience, in order to elicit the greatest response.
Here comes a major disconnect, just like the businesses which felt they did not need a web site. Your audience is connected and wired, and e-mail and texting are their every day communication vehicles. Think about it. In your operations, you have moved to the 'paperless', using electronics for your Financials, your Daily Reports, and your Payrolls. Take the next step - get your message on the right mediums.
Gathering "Feedback" requires a blend. Every day, you take an inventory of your business, walking the property, speaking with staff and guests, reviewing status reports. But, probably, you are too close to the business (the old trees and forest analogy).
Mystery or Secret Shops are a good means to get a snapshot in time of your operation or particular aspects of your business. These are unannounced, incognito evaluations of your SOP's (what you want your Customer or Guest to experience). You now have this "thumb nail sketch". If the Shops are done frequently enough, you start to see trends, training opportunities, Standards which need some tweaking, etc. Plus, it keeps your staff on their toes and wearing name tags, if required.
For a more comprehensive evaluation of your business, you might consider the services of a Hospitality Assessment or Quality Assurance company. These Professionals provide an in-depth review of your entire operation, considering Industry Norms and Standards for product, service and condition of the facilities. Their reports provide a map for continuous improvement.
Ultimately, the bottom line is what your Customers and Guest think. You can ask them directly, if you have the time, and they are prepared to respond honestly. You can await their Comment Cards. You can scan all those internet portals for unsolicited reviews of your business, respond where you can, but, ultimately, "suck it up", as your Consumer has spoken to that vast global audience of critics and potential business.
Or, you can proactively solicit Feedback which is immediate, actionable, and credible through technological solutions. And, here are two key words: immediate and actionable. What we learn months or even a week after the fact has absolutely no credibility; hence, you want to know about their Experience right away and share it with your Management (their Performance report). Immediacy means you can take action right away and address an issue, and, perhaps, save or enhance the Experience. Technology can prompt Feedback on-line, through POS, and other means. To survive and prosper, this is where you need to be. Raise your game!
It is time to move to the next plateau, the next frontier, and use "Guest Feedback" technology for the following reasons:
There is no better time to better manage the experience, frame the expectations, create real value, which you can then market! Get with the program(s)!
Mr. Hendrie is a keen observer of trends and results in the realm of Travel and Hospitality. He believes that Remarkable Hospitality is the portal to the Memorable Experience. Seek solutions at: www.hospitalityperformance.com
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