Part 3: Feedback is a gift

Up to date? Read Part 1 and Part 2!

So here we are, checking out of our ‘luxury hotel’ the morning after the night before.

Having heard about the issues in the dining room the previous night, we are met at the front desk by the General Manager, who invites us into his office to talk about what’s happened.

To his eternal credit, he has clearly read all the books on delivering a great customer experience and managing difficult situations. Unlike his colleague the restaurant manager the night before, he does not get defensive and shuffly. He does not blame junior colleagues who are only a few days into the job. He does agree when we say we do know that the hospitality sector is, indeed, ‘on its knees’ – confiding that they are not currently making any money as the whole operation is running at 50% capacity due to massive challenges recruiting experienced team members. We get it – we work in veterinary practice!

Instead he listens. Properly listens, not just waiting for us to finish talking so he can say more about what he thinks. He acknowledges that so much of our experience at the hotel has been below expectations. He apologises that on this occasion they haven’t delivered the high standards he strives for. He takes our contact details and promises to invite us back to experience the hotel when it is back to where it should be. And do you know what? I think he will do it. And I think we will go.

Because of his approach, his willingness to receive feedback and use it to make things better, we haven’t written reviews online. The business is clearly struggling in difficult circumstances, so who are we to make things harder for them when they’re trying to be better? And that’s entirely thanks to him, because after our run-in with the defensive restaurant manager the previous night, I was mentally penning my Tripadvisor review as I fell asleep.

Any and all feedback is a gift. It benefits both sides and helps businesses improve the customer experience they provide. Embrace it fully wherever you can, by:

    • Asking your clients regularly for their views and ideas
    • Publishing the results of client surveys to show where you are taking action to address any issues they have raised
    • Checking online reviews and Facebook comments regularly. Thank reviewers for taking the time to let you know their experiences and invite anyone who has left negative comments to have a chat with the practice manager so you can understand more; changing processes or putting training in place to prevent a recurrence
    • Giving praise to everyone on the team whenever they do a good job – it might be a thankless task (like emptying the poo bin!) or resolving things with an unhappy client; big or small say thank you and well done often. It makes the recipient feel great and will put a little spring in your step too, I guarantee

 

Who knows how long it will be until we hear from our new friend the hotel manager, inviting us back to experience the restaurant in all its normal glory. Hopefully it won’t be too long before he can strengthen his team with good people, supported by comprehensive training and capable supervisors. The hospitality industry is slowly starting to get back up off its knees after a punishing couple of years when most businesses were forced to suddenly close down and, sadly, many did not return.

It’s tough out there, but compromising on the customer experience won’t help businesses survive in the long term. It’s OK to be honest about your challenges, just don’t make them into excuses. Accept constructive criticism where it’s fair, and always strive to be even better. In short, be more General Manager!

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