Make every customer experience count – listen, learn and act in 7 steps

You’ve worked hard to create a great experience for your customers, but how do you know if you’ve met (or exceeded) their expectations? Would you benefit from finding out what customers like and dislike every time they visit one of your locations? How about addressing problems immediately and showing customers you’re listening and care about their concerns?

Here’s the good news: Getting in-the-moment real-time feedback from customers about their current experience isn’t that daunting. With the right software tools, you can easily manage the entire process on a daily basis—without a major effort or great cost.

Here’s a 7-step process that ensures every customer experience counts in a typical dining or retail environment.

1. Ask customers for feedback

Let customers know you want to hear from them and make it easy for them to provide on-the-spot feedback. Display brief instructions on a poster, napkin holder card, table tent or receipt. The simplest way is for them to send a single text message with their feedback; alternatively, they can enter a short URL into their browser or scan a QR code to access a web form. The survey must be short; the most important thing is to identify what they like or dislike about the current experience. We recommend three rating questions plus comments or comments only, and offering an incentive to encourage feedback.

 

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2.  Immediately thank customer

It’s important to immediately close the loop and acknowledge customers who provide feedback. They’ll appreciate knowing it’s been received. Send an automated text message reply within seconds using appropriate wording to thank customers. If an incentive is offered, the response can confirm it: they’ve been entered in a drawing or sent a coupon code along with details on how to redeem it. For example: “We thank you for your feedback and greatly appreciate your comments. You’ve been entered in our monthly drawing for an iPad!”

3. Alert staff  by text or email

As soon as feedback is received, alert designated staff by sending a text message and/or an email with the details provided by the customer. Text message alerts are the best way to do this, as most people read texts as soon as they’re received. Emails can be sent to multiple people to keep them abreast of what’s going on. In the alert, include the ratings plus comments as well as the customer’s cell phone number. This enables staff to contact the customer directly if required, something that’s especially important if a health or safety issue is reported.

4. Act quickly to address problems

It’s critical to act immediately if problems are reported; this shows customers you’re listening and can turn a negative experience into a positive outcome. It also ensures that other customers don’t experience the same problems. Typical examples of problems reported include:

  • Food that’s under/overcooked, at the incorrect temperature, tastes bad, etc.
  • Staff that are rude, unhelpful, unkempt, etc.
  • Shortages of items, e.g., condiments, sugar, salad dressing, utensils, napkins, etc.
  • Dirty items, such as plates, utensils, eating surfaces, etc.

5. Communicate/thank customers personally

To show customers you’ve listened to them, send them a personal reply by text message. (Note this is in addition to the automated text message they’ve already received.) Thank them for their feedback and suggestions, answer any questions they’ve asked or tell them how/when any problem will be resolved. Include your name; this personal interaction is a great way to build relationships with your customers and show you care.

6. Share customer feedback on digital comment boards

Customers love to hear what others have to say about the products and services they experience. A great way to engage and communicate with them is to display customer comments and management responses on digital comment boards. Designated staff can select and publish customer comments and enter appropriate responses to overhead digital screens. This helps to share information and answer questions, and creates an interactive and dynamic environment that stimulates further feedback.

Digital comment board example

 

 

7. Review results regularly

Store all feedback and communications in a web portal. Review the feedback with your team on a daily/weekly/monthly basis to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s going on. This helps to:

  • Monitor the performance of your operations
  • Identify issues that need additional follow-up
  • Recognize staff members who were complimented
  • Identify the need for further training
  • Learn from and implement suggestions and recommendations
  • Reinforce the importance of customer service with staff

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You may wonder how much effort it takes to do all this. The answer is not much if you use software tools to automate the entire process. All it takes is a minute or two to read the feedback alerts sent to your phone, tablet or PC; respond to the customer; and post the feedback to the comment boards. The most important thing is to act on the feedback and address problems immediately—something that goes without saying if you care about your customers.

 

To find out how you can make every experience count, we’d love to schedule an online demo.

Restroom management impacts overall customer experience

Often overlooked when discussing the customer experience is what happens in restrooms. Whether visiting a restaurant or retail operation, travelling through an airport or stopping at a gas station, the cleanliness and condition of the restrooms directly impacts the customer’s perceptions and reflects on the management of the operation.

NothBlog Restroom1ing is more off-putting than a smelly, dingy or dirty restroom, a restroom with little privacy or a restroom that lacks necessary supplies such as toilet paper, towels, and soap. A poor restroom experience makes you wonder how other areas are being managed – especially in food services that can impact guest health and safety. The recent crisis at Chipotle is a good example of the risks involved when standards are neglected.

When visiting a restroom, the expectation is a clean and bright facility, spotlessly clean with all supplies available and hopefully not overcrowded. In practice this rarely happens especially during busy periods. Like any operation, to ensure a good  experience requires effective and proactive restroom management.

  • Firstly the design, layout and decor of the restroom must to be appropriate.
  • Standards and procedures must be defined, documented and applied. These relate to how often restrooms must be checked and cleaned and how they need to be cleaned.
  • Training is critical to ensure staff know how to perform their duties and what standards are expected of them. This applies both to custodial staff actually doing the cleaning as well as supervisory staff.
  • Supplies and cleaning materials must be available and replenished as required.
  • Ongoing management and records are required to monitor performance and ensure standards are being maintained.

To streamline the management of restrooms, three processes are essential:

  1. Problem reporting

SAN postersThis must be quick and easy to do so that any visitor can report a problem as it is experienced. The most effective method is using text messaging. Visible signage prompts visitors to text the location ID plus problem description to a short code. Alerts are instantly sent to supervisory staff by email/text so that action can be taken. All problems are logged and tracked in a web portal with records available on how long it took to resolve the pro
blem.

  1. Regular cleaning and checks

Restrooms need to be checked periodically by custodial and supervisory staff.  To ensure these inspections are taking place, an online check log must be maintained. Every time an inspection is performed the staff member must either send a text or scan a QR code to record the time of the inspection plus any comments.

  1. Detailed inspections

Detailed inspections must be performed on a regular basis by senior staff to ensure standards are being maintained. The most effective process is to set up a web form that is accessed on a smartphone. The manager records the findings when visiting the restroom and results are available instantly in a web portal with overall cleanliness scores to enable management reporting and trending.

In conclusion, the restroom experience has a significant impact on the overall customer experience and requires proactive management with appropriate software tools. Find out how Touchwork’s  FixIT  Problem Reporting and Inspection Solution: http://www.touchwork.com/problem-reporting-fixit/ can help you manage your restrooms.

Text messaging is still the most widely-used smartphone feature according to Pew

PI_2015-04-01_smartphones_05Text messaging is the most widely-used smartphone feature but voice/video calling remains popular, even among young smartphone owners; email continues to retain a place of prominence in the smartphone era

Fully 97% of smartphone owners used text messaging at least once over the course of the study period, making it the most widely-used basic feature or app; it is also the feature that is used most frequently, as the smartphone owners in this study reported having used text messaging in the past hour in an average of seven surveys (out of a maximum total of 14 across the one-week study period). Younger smartphone owners are especially avid users of text messaging, but this group has by no means abandoned voice calls — 93% of smartphone owners ages 18-29 used voice or video calling on at least one occasion during the study period, and reported doing so in an average of 3.9 surveys.

Email has long ranked as one of the most common activities that users take part in online since the desktop/laptop era, and it continues to play a prominent role in the mobile era as well. Some 88% of smartphone owners used email on their phone at least once over the course of the study period, making email a more widely-used smartphone feature than social networking, watching video, or using maps and navigation, among others.

Social networking, video consumption, and music/podcasts are especially popular with younger smartphone owners

Three smartphone features in particular — social networking, watching video, and listening to music or podcasts — are especially popular with younger users. Fully 91% of smartphone owners ages 18-29 used social networking on their phone at least once over the course of the study period, compared with 55% of those 50 and older (a 36-point difference). These young smartphone owners reported using social networking in an average of 5.6 surveys, tied with internet use as the second-most frequent smartphone behavior among young adults after text messaging.

Features such as watching video and listening to music or podcasts are even more the domain of young smartphone owners. Three-quarters of younger smartphone owners (75%) indicated using their phone to watch videos at least once over the study period, compared with 31% of those 50 and older (a difference of 44 percentage points). And 64% of younger adults used their phones at one time or another to listen to music or podcasts — a 43-point difference compared with the 21% of older users who did so.

Reference:  Pew Research Center – US Smart Phone use in 2015 http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/01/us-smartphone-use-in-2015/