Jules Murray, of sales and customer service consultants Spider on the Wall tells BigHospitality how restaurants, pubs and hotels can measure customer service in the most cost-effective and beneficial way.
Problem: Our in-house survey questionnaires provide us with basic customer feedback information but guests tend only to tick the relevant boxes as to their satisfaction level – they rarely or go into any depth. What can we do to measure customer service in a cost-effective manner?
Solution: When it comes to consumer contentment, never mistake silence as satisfaction.
According to research from TARP Worldwide report and BPIR, 96 per cent of dissatisfied customers do not complain, but in the words of Bill Gates, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning."
In order to deliver exceptional service, we have to create the means for customers to complain to us. And remember that repeat customers generally spend more money and refer more customers to your establishment than one-off visitors, so it’s worth acting on complaints and turning a dissatisfied customer into a brand ambassador.
Customer service feedback surveys are the most easy and inexpensive route to understanding what drives customer loyalty, however, going about it incorrectly can actually drive down customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, draw invalid or incorrect conclusions and end up a plain waste time and money.
Professional external mystery shoppers provide an excellent opportunity for your staff to gaze into a mirror and see their customer service flaws in a way that doesn’t put your business at risk.
Pick your company carefully however – large organisations serving thousands of companies will be using a tick-box approach which tells you nothing more than your own in-house silent customer. Also they may be undertaken by a college student who has the ability to complete an on-line questionnaire and the desire for £10 beer money, but lacks any real-life experience of customer service!
A comprehensive narrative report which tells the customer story from initial enquiry through to any post-visit contact is of the greatest investment. Choose a company where the mystery shopper has a background in customer service and who has actually worked in the hospitality industry themselves.
Stipulate any specific areas of focus and state what exactly is your objective for undertaking the mystery shopper investment.
Impact of individuals
Statistical research tells us that the biggest, single reason a business loses customers is down to the indifference of one employee, so be sure to request that individual staff members are named in the report.
Also remember that just as a rude employee can turn your customers away, a staff member who can establish a connection with your guests will encourage their custom.
So invest in your people. Nowadays it’s no longer enough to employ staff with the greatest technical experience or the highest degree, they also need to have social awareness and interpersonal skills.
Some of the most valuable aspects of jobs are the most essentially human tasks: sensing, judging, creating, and building relationships. Your staff need to learn how to ‘read’ your customers; how to pre-empt what they may need next; how to interact with a customer in a way that makes them feel special,
If more staff training is required, a good mystery shopping company should be able to assist you in delivering the right skills to address poor performance. They should also provide on-hand help with other aspects of their report, ensuring there is a constructive delivery with acknowledgment of responsibility and a wealth of motivational factors.
Do you have a problem you'd like solving? Need advice on a particular area of your business? Our panel of industry experts are on hand to give you the help you need. Email your problem to firstname.lastname@example.org with Ask the Experts in the subject line and we'll endeavour to get it answered.