Do you really want your guests’ opinion?

Is the guest satisfaction survey a valuable tool or yet another piece of corporate bureaucracy? And how true a picture do they paint of how well, or bad, you are doing your job.

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By  Sarah Campbell Published  February 6, 2006

|~|customer-satisfactionL.jpg|~|Does your survey paint a true picture?|~|Is the guest satisfaction survey a valuable tool or yet another piece of corporate bureaucracy? And how true a picture do they paint of how well, or bad, you are doing your job. Sometimes wished for, and other times wished away, the little survey form has come before me on many occasions in recent months, leading me to think ‘How can hoteliers really get the best from this?’ At the end of last year a bad stay in a premium branded hotel lead to me reaching for pen and survey, as I dashed off a slating account of my stay. The hotel was dirty, the service slovenly, and the room overpriced, my rant went on. Once I had finished, I wondered just how successful this complaint would be? Certainly, if I left it in the room, housekeeping were bound to file it safely under B, for bin. After all, it was their service that came under most scrutiny in my hotel report. In the end, I decided to leave my form with reception. An early morning departure meant that I was unable to contact the general manager direct, but I made sure to leave with his card. My points were valid, and, I felt, could only improve his business. After ten days and no reply, I dropped him an email. This little reminder seemed to prompt him to action, and shortly after I received a mail back, answering all of my queries and assuring me that a return visit to the hotel would provide a more favourable impression. It seemed the hotel was preparing to undergo renovation, and certainly I will consider returning once the work is completed. I am a firm believer in the fact that if a guest complains, but gets a favourable response, the hotel will convert a walk out to a return guest. Equally so, commending someone for a job well done can go wonders to promoting staff morale and lead to even better service in the future, which leads to my second point. It is often harder to impress those that already work in hospitality. The bar is raised and all the little things get noticed. However, if someone does impress you then that should make for all the more reason to applaud them. It may not be your hotel. It may not even be your brand. But if someone has done a good job, it is your responsibility to tell them. After all, an increase in service levels across the market is to the benefit of all. However, there is always the exception to the rule. A great evening out can be ended by a persistant waiter over eager to get you to complete a survey, with the little form being pushed into your hands before you know what is happening. Restaurant managers, in their infinite wisdom, have been known to incentivise survey forms leading to a free for all with the serving staff competing to make up numbers. Housekeeping staff can also be over eager, and somewhat inventive, in how they get their survey into your hands. Leaving it on the bed, tucked under the breakfast menu is a tried and tested favourite, and the blatant bribe of the little chocolate always works wonders for me. Next time someone hands you a customer survey, make sure you reach for a pen and have your say.||**||

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