How Satisfied Am I? Does It Matter?

A Place Where "They" Care
Call me a glutton for punishment or call me someone dedicated to her line of work.  Either way, I got a little curious about the outside survey world and decided to respond to every single survey requested of me for about 60 days. In all, my experiment lasted from December 2012 through the first week of February 2013. I wanted to see:

      1. Would I ever win any of those drawings most companies use as incentives to complete their survey?

      2. How many companies would respond to my completion of their survey?
Over the course of those two months, I faithfully stored up my receipts for grocery stores, drugstores, drive-thru’s, department stores, and the post office. And each evening I would follow the instructions on those receipts to go online and complete those surveys. I clicked on survey links for hotel stays, flights, online purchases, and website opinion surveys and let them know what I thought.  I even answered a few phone surveys (as painful as they were) regarding local radio stations and my banking experience. All told, I completed over 60 surveys.

February passed, and each day I would trot along to the mailbox hoping for an announcement of my winning at least ONE of the drawings I had supposedly been entered in. Unfortunately, the answer to my first question above was a resounding, “No. You will not win a single drawing.” Oh well.

I also checked each of my email accounts daily, wondering when I would hear from some of these organizations who seemed all too eager for me to take time out of my jam-packed day and let them know in detail what I thought of their product/service, their employees, the overall customer experience, etc. The answer?

Out of 60-plus completed surveys, I received one single response.  And the organization is now one of my favorite places to rave about. Let me introduce you to The Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa, California.
I had the pleasure of staying at The Meritage during the 1st MultiFamily Social Media  Summit held on January 30 – February 1, 2013. I was immediately impressed with the friendliness and eager-to-please attitude of each and every staff member. My experience during my entire stay.  Warm, friendly, helpful, and attentive.

Cut to my return home. As I was completing my expense report, I realized I had misplaced my hotel statement. I immediately emailed the hotel, provided all my information and requested an emailed copy. A day went by and I sent a second email to a different email address with the same request. No response. Odd, I thought. Especially after my in-person experience.
And then their customer satisfaction survey arrived in my Inbox. Well, it was officially February, but I decided to complete one last survey in my experiment hoping, beyond hope, that I would receive at least one acknowledgement of all the hours(by this point) that I had spent on surveys over the previous 60 days!

I gave them rave reviews. The resort with the vineyards – such beautiful views!  The staff – so wonderful! The food – delicious!  The bill - …  Well, here is where I’m a bit ashamed of myself, but you must understand by this point I was convinced that no one read their surveys, so what did it matter?
On the topic of “Accuracy of bill” I gave them the lowest possible rating.

It was wrong, I know. An outright falsehood, on my part. But I was hoping that this one out-of-place rating might catch someone’s attention and help me get a copy of my bill. I explained my rating in the comment section and provided the justification that you see above.  I asked again for a copy of my bill and provided every possible means of identifying my bill: confirmation #, check in/check out dates, first and last name, email, phone, etc.
Here is what I received in return 20 minutes later:

Dear Ms. Piccotti,

         I would like to apologize for the delay in receiving a copy of your statement.  This is the same email that we have on your profile, so I’m not sure why you hadn’t received it sooner.  I have attached a copy for your records.  If there is anything you need, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly.  Thank you so much for your time.  Have a beautiful day.

Best regards,
Matthew Loewenstein
Front Desk Supervisor
The Meritage Resort and Spa

A response! A response! They WERE just as wonderful as I remembered! And here’s the thing – the response was quick, there was an apology with no blame pointed back at me or any other staff member or system. He provided what I had asked for, and he opened the door to continue the conversation if I so desired! Short. Sweet. Perfection!
Because of this simple acknowledgement of my time and my concern, I am now the Meritage Spa and Resort’s #1 biggest fan. They walk the talk of customer service. They reach out for feedback (a.k.a. start a conversation) and when they receive an answer, they keep the conversation going!

This is the power of a true customer feedback system. Unfortunately, the vast, VAST majority of customer feedback systems are black holes of time, energy and money.  Why bother asking how a customer feels, if you have no intention of responding to their answer? No wonder this nation has survey fatigue! A customer answers one in good faith (and in the hopes of winning that $5,000 gift card!), and when there’s no acknowledgement (and no gift card), why would they bother with any more surveys? It’s the equivalent of walking into an office and enthusiastically saying hi to the receptionist and the receptionist purposely ignoring you. The next time you enter that office, would you even attempt to greet that receptionist again?
Do I believe in customer feedback? Yes! Do I believe surveys are a powerful way to connect with your customer and improve your level of service? Absolutely! But the silver bullet is to ensure that your request for feedback is recognized as the beginning of a conversation. If the customer takes their valuable time to respond, continue the conversation! That one act will create a loyal  - and incredibly delighted – customer! Take it from The Meritage Resort and Spa’s #1 Fan!

To visit The Meritage Resort and Spa:

Call: 707.251.1900
875 Bordeaux Way, Napa, CA 94558
You won't regret it!

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