Customer Feedback: Why Ask if You Do Not Really Want to Know?

Posted by Stephanie Valentine on December 3, 2009 in Small Business Customer Service |

Do you want to just laugh when you have a lousy interaction with a company’s customer service department and then they ask you to take a survey about their customer service?

The other day I dealt with customer service at a software company. The representative blew me off, his supervisor did the same, and the top dog manager was only mildly accommodating. At the end of all this merry-go-round, they asked me to take a 3 question survey to rate their customer service. I told them they had to be joking!

However, there are companies that do manage to make excellent use of customer feedback, and I definitely want to highlight one example.

Royal Resorts: 5 Ways to Make Use of Customer Feedback
Every year we go down to Cancun, Mexico for 5 weeks with the family. We stay at a timeshare called Royal Resorts. These five-star resorts have customer service that will meet or beat that of any of the top hotels like the Hyatt or Ritz-Carlton. Here are 5 things that Royal Resorts does with customer feedback that allow me, as a member, to know that my comments are being heard.

#1 – Be Persistent in Asking for Feedback
As with most timeshares, the Royal Resorts timeshares are sold in weeks that start and end on Saturdays. Every Friday, our bill is delivered to our villa along with a survey form. The survey form covers every resort service, from maid service and maintenance to restaurant quality and salon services. When we go to pay our bill, on Friday night or Saturday morning, the staff already knows whether we have turned in our survey form. If not, they ask us to please take a few minutes to complete the survey. They ask very politely, but they are persistent.

We attend yoga classes every weekday morning. On Fridays, the yoga instructors always remind us that it is the end of the week and that they would appreciate us filling out the survey forms, noting especially the quality or lack thereof of their yoga class. This serves as a further reminder to fill out the form.

#2 – Reward Feedback
Every time we fill out the survey form and turn it in, we are entered into a drawing for a free week’s stay at one of the resorts. I’ve never been picked for this prize, but the extra incentive always helps!

#3 – Respond to Feedback via Corporate Communication
All members of the Royal Resorts receive monthly e-newsletters, and can also sign up for additional information feeds from the company’s website. In addition, magazines that detail any new developments at the resorts are mailed out quarterly. The company uses these communication methods to respond in general to the feedback they receive, especially to the more common requests.

For instance, in the last couple of years many guests from the U.S. have requested that the resorts have wireless internet in the rooms. The company put out a survey asking whether people would be willing to pay for wireless internet on a weekly basis, and if so, how much? A high percentage of members jumped on the survey, and the results were displayed live on the website. Most guests from the U.S. would easily have paid for the service. The result? There is now wireless internet available in the villas at the Royal Sands, one of the newest resorts. While it is clear that resort management can’t quite figure out why American workaholics want to work on vacation, they nevertheless listened to and acted on the feedback.

#4 – Pay Attention to the Smallest Details
The villas at each resort are beautifully decorated with stone floors. While the stone floors are certainly pretty to look at and easy to maintain, they create a lot of noise when you move furniture across them. For instance, every time I pushed a chair back from the dining table, the chair scraped across the floor so loudly that the sound could be heard in the villas above and below us. I know this because I could hear chairs scraping across the floors above and below us.

In one of our comment forms, we suggested that the company place felt pads under all the furniture to prevent this noisy scraping. Boy were we surprised when we arrived the next year to find felt pads on every piece of furniture in the villa. That’s a lot of felt pads! There are at least 10 chairs (with 4 legs each) in each villa, not to mention the dining table, coffee tables, and nightstands. That attention to detail made me want to fill out the survey forms with more zeal than ever.

#5 – Educate the Staff to Respond to Feedback
Not every customer request can be accommodated, of course, so having a knowledgeable staff that can explain the reasons behind certain policies is important. For instance, we requested a recycling program for several years in a row but saw no results. When I queried the front desk about this issue, the clerk was well-informed and responded immediately. He said that while most Americans were conscious about recycling, many Mexican visitors found recycling a hassle, especially on vacation. As a result, the resort staff simply collected all the garbage from the villas and sorted out the recycling by hand.

Ick! That grossed me out, but I was totally impressed by their willingness to recycle as well as respect the needs of their Mexican guests. Moreover, I was impressed with how the clerk immediately knew the answer to my question. The same has been true of almost any other question I have posed to the front desk staff.

Today, there are recycling bins located in each villa as well as all around the resorts. Over the last several years the company has been educating its guests about the importance of recycling, and it seems that at last most people agree with this policy.

I’m Impressed, Are You?
As you can probably tell, I am impressed as heck at the level of customer service at these resorts. Any company that gets down to the nitty-gritty and takes action on a tiny suggestion like adding felt pads to the furniture has earned my loyalty for life. And I’m not the only one. The first of the resorts in this chain opened back in the 1970s, and since then families have been passing their timeshare weeks down through the generations. Based on a straw poll I did around the pool, I would say that the multiple generations of members coming to the resorts are just as rabidly loyal as me.

What about you and your small business? Are you asking for feedback from your customers? If so, are you really listening to what they have to say?

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