Over the years, customer feedback has become a critical component of business success. As proven by Gartner Research, companies that actively engage in listening to the voice of the customer through feedback, spend 25% less on customer retention than those that don’t. It’s a great opportunity to support your customers and earn top dollar.
Obtaining customer feedback is a topic we’ve covered on our blog before. It houses a lot of benefits and can really help you plan for a successful future. However, as a brand implementing a feedback program for the first time, it’s important to know the scope of programs available and what would work best for your company.
Today, we explore the two most popular tactics to obtain feedback, how you can increase the quantity and quality of responses and why feedback is so critical in this day and age.
Why Measuring Feedback is Critical
First, measuring customer feedback is critical to help you improve your product or services. Customers know first hand the quality of your product or service – so gaining insight from them can help you see areas of improvement that you might have overlooked. In addition, customer feedback can provide an opportunity for new and exciting enhancements. Whether it is offering a complimentary sparkling water at your restaurant or an extra set of towels at your hotel, your guests know first hand what you can do to provide the best experience possible and to drive future loyalty.
Secondly, feedback from customers can help you gain a deeper understanding of your business’s operations. Say, for example, a customer waits over 30 minutes at your restaurant for their food. If they provide feedback, you can recognize that the time to serve was too long and fix the issue before it happens to anyone else. What’s more, if your feedback process is real-time, you can resolve the issue immediately – deterring the guest from leaving the premises upset and spreading negativity online.
Lastly, obtaining feedback from your customers can help you create a more durable strategy for the future. Knowing what is and isn’t working directly from the guest’s perspectives can help you navigate what to tweak in your current strategy and steps you can take to plan for a more successful future. For instance, if you’re a hotel and your customers aren’t responding to your post-visit emails, it might be time to look at the messaging you are using and test out a few options.
Feedback from customers has a ton of benefits, with these just being a few examples. Whether it is used to increase revenue, build loyalty or increase transparency, it’s a profitable choice for any business.
Why Traditional Methods of Measuring Feedback Don’t Work
Collecting feedback is obviously an essential aspect of business success, but knowing how to collect that feedback is just as important. How you collect the feedback can determine how much data you receive from the customer in addition to the quality of the feedback you receive. For many businesses, using traditional paper-based methods is still widely utilized – however, it isn’t the most effective or efficient. Let’s explore why.
Today, our world is immersed in digital. Everything from how businesses communicate to how they sell has become digitally based. In fact, back in 2013, direct mail expenditure was 10.9% of all advertising expenditure. The full-year figures for 2017 show this has dropped by almost one-third to just 7.9%. Post mail is a dated method that could put you behind on the trend curve and out of the customer’s mind. Guests want to be engaged, they want options, and they want to feel comfortable doing it. With a digital platform to collect feedback, you can give guests a variety and make it easy for them to access and submit feedback. Especially in an era where technology-savvy Millennials and Generation Z’s are evolving into a large portion of the customer population, being digital is a huge advantage.
Secondly, paper-based surveys can be costly and time-consuming. Filling out any type of form by hand as a guest can be daunting. Not to mention, the process to actually receive the information can take days, weeks, and sometimes even months. This is detrimental to a business when an upset guest is venting in-moment because you can’t recover them in real-time. With a digital platform, you can send a survey immediately and get feedback immediately. Not to mention, you can reach plenty of people – over multiple geographic regions – that wouldn’t even be a consideration with paper-based methods.
For paper-based feedback, consider the cost of printing pages, the postage, and the teams you are hiring to execute them. All of these small requirements add up and aren’t required from a digital feedback platform. In addition, consider your reach and related costs. With paper based-feedback, you’re limited to as many messages as your budget and bandwidth allow. Whereas with digital, anyone who has a connection and a URL or app can access your program to provide feedback. With digital, you also don’t have to pay for long distance charges or international postage – making it a streamlined way of obtaining global feedback.
Lastly and most importantly, digital puts the guest in control – in terms of both the answers they provide and how they provide those answers. With paper-based functions, guest writing is limited to the amount of space that you offer. If it’s a long form answer and you provide half a page, a guest is limited to that half a page. A guest is also limited to how they submit their answer, i.e they can only submit a paper response. With digital, a customer can write as much feedback (or as little) as they want. No exceptions. In addition, they can submit it on the platform of their choice, whether that be an in-store kiosk, text submission, a web survey, and so on.
Providing options, as we’ve just highlighted here and in previous posts, is the most critical aspect of engaging the modern guest. Today’s digitally emersed environment is all about tending to the guest’s needs in a way that is convenient for them and engaging. With a plethora of options to connect already at their fingertips, if you aren’t using digital you can be certain they’ll find another brand that is.
How To Obtain Optimal Guest Feedback
Once you’ve nailed down your option for collecting effective feedback, it’s now time to figure out how to optimize the amount of feedback you retrieve from your guests. Because more feedback means more visibility into the success of your business.
Train Staff to Encourage Feedback from Guests
If you’re looking to obtain feedback, you have to ask for it. Guests have to know the program exists and know that you want to hear from them. Having your team bring it up is a great first step to having them submit more feedback.
Engaging guests when you know they will be receptive will help you obtain the most feedback. Train team members to mention your program at critical touch points. Places like hotel reception, when customers are checking in or at a restaurant table, or as customers pay their bill, are great areas to pilot. Similarly, training team members to inform guests in a way that is alluring will also enhance the number and quality of responses. Tactics, like using their name or referencing a past visit, is a great place to start.
Be Available on the Guest’s Terms
Convenience is key when it comes to requesting feedback from your guests. In this day and age, apps are widely used to communicate – and usually more than one at a time. From WhatsApp to Facebook Messenger to SMS and Line, providing variety will broaden your audience scope in addition to satisfying existing guests.
If you’re thinking of being available on multiple channels, we recommend leveraging a technology platform so your team can easily manage feedback. A platform will streamline the process, in addition to auto-routing urgent messages to management and providing useful data.
Ask The Right Questions
The insights you receive will be completely dependent on the questions that you ask. Whether you want to know about the cleanliness of your restrooms or team attentiveness, it’s important that the questions you ask reflect what you want to know. Questions like “Rate the cleanliness of your establishment” or “How was your service today?’ are great examples.
In addition, the way that you frame questions should reflect how your customers want to be asked. Do they prefer pick lists? Multiple choice? Long form? Short form? If you’re unsure of what type of questions your customers are more receptive to, pilot a few options to see how they respond. If long form questions are more popular than multiple choice, shift your survey to include more long form. By tailoring your survey to customer preferences you encourage them to complete the survey and increase the likelihood of obtaining feedback.
Make It Simple.
No guest wants to be put through a lengthy, cumbersome feedback process. At the end of the day they’re doing you a favour, so it’s important to reward them with a simple and well-executed feedback solution.
If you can, try and make the questions you ask simple and concise. Provide steps throughout the program so a guest can easily complete the process and complete the task of sharing feedback as easy as pressing a “submit” button. If a guest has to work to submit feedback, odds are they won’t, so it’s important to make their experience effortless.
Receiving feedback from your guests is an impactful element of brand growth. Whether you utilize the insight from feedback to better your operations or to better tailor your business offering, a feedback program should be a top consideration for long-term business success.