Feedback Frenzy or How to Improve Survey Response Rates

rateoursurveyMy husband and I recently stayed at a hotel that we will definitely go back to. The facility was lovely. The rooms were beautiful and the service was excellent.

Today I received an email asking me to complete a survey regarding our stay.  Sigh … it was not completed.  Here’s why:  way too many questions asking me to rate, on a scale from 1 – 10, our satisfaction with how the room smelled, their choice of TV’s and television channels, cleanliness of the room, comfort of the pillows, etc. , etc., etc.  I quit after page five.

There are a whole lot of stats on-line about customer response rates to surveys.  The stats are dismally low and I’m guessing it’s because the survey formats are so bad.  Too often these feedback forms ask way, way, way too many questions.  If the survey had looked something like the following, I would have completed it.

Did you enjoy your stay with us?        Yes       No

How would you rate the service you received?       Amazing        Fine        Lousy

How would you rate the hotel facility, amenities and services?       Amazing        Fine        Lousy

Will you return the next time you are in the area?        Absolutely     Maybe      Not a Chance

Will you refer our hotel to your family, friends or colleagues?   Absolutely     Maybe      Not a Chance

Any other comments you’d like to share?

May we contact you for further information on your responses?   Yes    No

Here’s what I would have loved to say under any other comments: “Beautiful hotel with wonderful, service-minded staff doing their utmost to ensure a positive stay.  We will be back and we will refer others.”

If you really want to know your customer’s thought about their interaction with your business, shorten your 50+ questionnaire to six or seven questions, max.  What do you really, really need to know?  Focus on those questions and then dig deeper with the people who give you permission to go into further detail.

Your customer service survey is another customer touch point.  It’s an opportunity for you to delight or frustrate your customers. Ask yourself “Does my customer want to spend 10 minutes filling out all these ‘on a scale of 1-10’ questions?”  If the answer is ‘no’, why are you doing it?


Why Customer Feedback is Important

Your customers are the heart of your business. They pay your bills, they keep your doors open, they send you on vacation now and then.  Asking your customers for their thoughts, their ideas, their feelings helps you keep on top of their wants, needs and expectations.  Customer feedback provides you with information to maintain and grow your customer base.

Collecting customer feedback helps you:

  1. Improve customer loyalty.  Asking your customers for their opinion on  your product and your service, sends the message “I value you and your opinion.”  When your customers feel valued, they become more loyal to your business.
  2. Establish customer satisfaction levels.  You need to know how your customers feel about your business.  Are they satisfied with the product you offer?  Are there gaps? Customer expectations are on the rise. Many expect free Wi-Fi everywhere they go. Does your restaurant or hotel offer that?  Flat screen TV’s used to be wows. Now they are not.  What about from a service perspective?  Do your customers feel recognized and valued by your staff?
  3. Obtain new product or service suggestions. Nobody knows what your customers want or like better than your customers.   Asking them if there is something else they would like to see may open new opportunities for you.

Unfortunately, many customers are jaded about the whole concept of customer feedback.  There are many companies that ask for feedback, because it’s the thing to do, but then do nothing with the feedback they collect.

It may take time for customers to trust you will actually do something with their feedback.  When they demonstrate that trust in you, it’s important to respect their time, their evaluations and their suggestions.  Four ways to do that are:

  1. Evaluate. You may receive suggestions that simply don’t fit in with your business model.  Before you cross them off the list, ask yourself if they really don’t fit or if they just haven’t been done before.  If you can’t implement the suggestion as stated, is there something you can do instead that will address the need?
  2. Prioritize improvements.  As you gather information, you may start noticing certain areas referenced over and over again. Organize these from highest to lowest priority.  Which change will have the greatest impact on customer satisfaction?  How will this benefit the customer and the business?
  3. Develop an action plan.  Some changes can be implemented quickly. Others take longer and are difficult to implement.  Identify time and resources necessary to implement the change.
  4. Respond to the customer.  When customers takes the time to share opinions, thoughts and suggestions with you, thank them.   Let customers know that their voice has been heard and what steps you are taking in response to their feedback.

What has your experience been with customer comment cards or surveys? Do you fill them out?  If so, what type of response do you typically receive?

Creating a customer feedback plan is just one part of developing a strong customer service strategy.  If you are interested in speaking to Laurie about creating a customer service strategy, sign up for a free consult.

Resist the Bandaid Solution

A recent blog post detailed the 2012 Traveler Rants & Raves, based on millions of on-line review.  Customer service led both the rant and the rave categories.  On a positive note, there were far more raves than rants. (Read entire article here.)

So what does a service provider do when they notice that the service rants for their property are trending upward and the raves are going down?

Often, the answer is “we need some customer service training here.” Unfortunately, very often that is a bandage solution to a deeper problem.

Poor customer service happens due to a number of reasons.

  1. A lack of clear service standards.  When service teams do not clearly understand service expectations, it’s very difficult to meet or exceed them!  Yes, there are some employees who think “friendly” looks and sounds the same as their boss does. Others have a very different idea.  With different personality types, different backgrounds and different experiences to draw on, “friendly” can have different meanings to different people.
  2. Poor internal customer service.  Poor internal service leads to poor external service. Very, very few of us are able to turn off the negative feelings that result from a squabble with a team member, a dressing down by a supervisor (especially when done in front of others), unreasonable workloads, no response or slow response to requests … the list could go on and on.  And when your service team is not happy, chances are your external customers aren’t happy either, or at least not as happy as they could be.
  3. Poor skills training.  When somebody on your service team does not know how to complete the tasks associated with their job, if they cannot answer basic customer questions or know who to go to for the answers, they become frustrated and the customer becomes frustrated.  Putting someone on a shift too soon is not good for business.

Customer service training can be effective.  It provides a forum to discuss challenges and develop solutions.  It provides an opportunity to focus on and identify specific customer needs, wants and expectations and come up with ideas on how to meet or exceed those expectations.  It can help build confidence and skills in dealing with difficult or challenging situations.

Customer service training is not the answer if internal service is poor, if employees are not confident in their knowledge or skills or if they don’t clearly understand what is expected of them.  Take care of those issues first.  (And if you need help with that, feel free to give me a call!)