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Hyatt Harborside Boston skyline viewI’m impressed! I got a call from the Hyatt Harborside Boston (photo is the view of the Boston skyline from this hotel) after I filled out a feedback survey about a recent visit. It’s quite rare for a customer to hear back from a company after they complete a survey. While this is a best practice activity, it is not as common as it should be.

The term for this action is often called “closed loop” – it means closing the loop back with customers who provide feedback.

I’m a fan of any company that can make this part of their customer listening or survey strategy.

Thinking about listening, you need:

  1. A listening strategy – where/ how do you listen to customers and at what points during their interactions with your company? Make sure you are listening at the most important parts of the customer experience.
  2. All surveys need to be well-written so that the responses are actionable and the survey length doesn’t put off customers.
  3. Survey results need to be reviewed. Listen to what customers share with you.
  4. Follow up with customers to learn more about their feedback – if they are willing to be contacted. This is an opportunity to apologize for any issues or disruptions the customer experienced.
  5. Let customers know how their feedback informed your business actions or decision making. If you change a product, improve your service delivery or even just make invoices easier to read based on customer feedback – tell customers you listened and responded.

Let’s get back to the Hyatt story. The front desk manager called me to apologize for issues I had during my stay – there were room issues, noise issues and comments about disrepair of some areas of the hotel. Not only did he say sorry and listen to my further comments, he did something I didn’t expect. He offered to refund one night of my stay. That might be because I’m a regular customer – I’m not sure.

At the end of our call, I asked him what their policy was like for contacting customers to follow up on surveys. (I’m always curious.) He explained that customers who had issues during their stay and were willing to be contacted about their comments, receive a call within 48 hours. Plus, they have a mechanism that if the front desk doesn’t call the customer in this time frame, the hotel manager is notified. Smart. A bit of checks and balances and accountability can help with follow through.

It may not sound like fun to call unhappy customers, but what you can learn and what you can do to repair the relationship is incredibly valuable. I’m sure you’ve heard that a customer who incurs a problem with your company and then has it corrected has a greater chance of becoming an advocate for your company. I told the Hyatt that I’d be blogging about this because I was so impressed with their listening and the genuine caring attitude expressed on the call.

Create more loyal customers by calling them and just listening. You don’t have to say much, just apologize and let them talk. That’s all. This shows you care and shows you honor the customer and the time they took to answer your survey.

Take a look at your listening strategy. How can you include follow up and “close the loop” with customers?

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