How to Recover After Blowing It with a Guest

Blowing it with a customer

Did you just royally blow it with a guest?

How one call can create an even better relationship

Customer surveys are a critical part of feedback for any business – the caveat is that most of the time they are not utilized properly. Fellow Raving Partner, Doc Deb Hilgeman, addressed this issue in her article, “Guest Comment Cards: Are They Worth the Effort?” They can assist in product improvement, process improvement and overall guest satisfaction. Combining these research tools with technology has allowed businesses the advantage of instant feedback. In our industry, it has become commonplace to send out email surveys following a hotel stay.

I routinely complete surveys that are sent to me. I have received them from hotels, car dealers, resorts and retailers. I value companies that take the time to ask how they can improve my experience and their product. They also give me an opportunity to recognize a member of their staff who stood out.

Surveys can also have a negative effect on guest satisfaction if the input falls on deaf ears.

Recently, I visited the Macy’s at Westfield Vancouver Mall to pick up some desperately needed clothes for my husband. Since neither of us likes to shop, I agreed that I would “run in” on my way through town and basically grab a new wardrobe. I must disclose that I have been a reluctant Macy’s shopper since they bought out Meier & Frank a decade ago. You see, my first “real” job was working in cosmetics for ten years at Meier & Frank. Although I have continued to shop at Macy’s, I still feel a sense of loss over this great Northwest brand.

As I entered the men’s department, I noticed four employees. Since I was in a hurry, I was happy that I would have assistance collecting the clothes on my list. I dove in, and quickly had an armful of clothes. Yet not one employee said “hello,” offered to hold the items I was carrying, or helped me in any way. Naturally, my Meier & Frank bias kicked into gear and my irritation grew, as none of the employees offered me any assistance with my stack of pants, shirts and jackets. Even at the register, I interrupted a conversation between two employees who reluctantly began ringing up my items.

As anticipated, by the time I returned home, I had received a survey regarding my visit. The following morning, I sat down with a coffee to complete it. The survey was well done and asked relevant questions. It gave me room to add comments, and at the end it asked if I would mind being contacted about my experience. I said that I was willing to be contacted, although in my years of completing surveys and agreeing to a follow-up, I have NEVER received a response back. I hit the send button and smirked, thinking that I had just wasted another fifteen minutes on a Sunday morning by completing a survey that would fall on deaf ears.

To my surprise, that was not the case. Within two hours, I received a personal call from Ross, the Manager of the Men’s Department. The smirk turned into a smile, and I wished that I could hug him. Not only did he apologize, but he also listened. And then, in the end, he gave me his number and asked me to call him prior to my next visit so that he could meet me. WOW! As a customer, I now looked forward to my next visit because I felt valued and heard. Imagine how you can transform your property’s gaming experience by taking advantage of this feedback to create a personal engagement with a guest.

Guest surveys should be a part of your facility’s overall research strategy and plan. If research is not a part of a property-wide objective, then the information gathered can easily fall on deaf ears. Here are a few suggestions to consider:

1. Don’t send surveys unless you plan on using the information.

The marketing team must have the buy-in from leadership that the information will be used for recognition and improvement. This includes a commitment by department managers to call guests who would like a response.

2. Tell the guest approximately how long it will take up front.

Many times, I will open a survey thinking that it will just take a couple of minutes, only to abandon it fifteen minutes later. If I had known up front how long it would take, I would have waited to complete it when I had more time. I rarely get back to completing the ones that I had to abandon mid-survey.

3. Don’t wait for a customer to stay at the hotel to send a survey.

Create a survey that is triggered by a visit on the gaming floor. Wouldn’t it be nice to know immediately how your gamers are feeling about their visit? This will help increase your input from locals too.

4.Don’t limit follow-up to only “poor” experiences.

How about calling those guests who are thrilled with your product? Think of the stories they will tell their friends about your business.

5.Incorporate employee surveys into your research plan.

They are the eyes and ears of your guests. If they aren’t happy, chances are that your guests aren’t either.

Because of that experience, I won’t wait as long to make my next shopping trip, and I know where I will be going. Although I still have fond memories of Meier & Frank, I can now say that I am a loyal Macy’s Customer, thanks to one manager who took the time to follow up on a tool that he was given. (Great job, Ross! Be prepared, I may give you that hug on my next visit).

Finally, if you’re in Tribal gaming, you may have received an email from Raving about an Industry Marketing Survey that they are putting together for release early next year. I truly believe that this information will become valuable for executive management and marketing teams to better understand the challenges and opportunities within our marketing departments. I can guarantee that they will use the input that you provide.

Deana Scott