Monday, July 25, 2011

Lessons in Feedback

One of the most important assets for any consultant is the ability to give (and receive) constructive feedback.  In an industry where most are expected to develop and build new skills rapidly, its critical to, well, be critical.

But today, I had an epic fail of a feedback session.

I'll let the recipient of that feedback explain:


Thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to complete our Guest Survey.  I apologize that you felt our gym "sucked".   Our goal is to not only meet the needs of each and every guest we serve, but to exceed your expectations to make your stay as pleasant and comfortable as possible.

We did add free weights recently, however the room does not allow for anymore equipment than what we have provided.  There are 3 gyms within walking distance to our hotel where they provide a discount to our guest.  If you decide to ever come visit us again, please let us know and we can provide you with one of these coupons and a free shuttle to the area gyms. 

Again, I apologize for the inconveniences during your stay and hope to see you during your next visit.

If I can provide any assistance, don't hesitate to contact me directly at XXX-XXX-XXXX. 


Hyatt Place Rogers/Bentonville

I got that email today in response to a guest survey I filled out for the Hyatt Place in Arkansas.

I read the note, and immediately felt bad.  It can't be fun to be the manager of a hotel and receive feedback that your place of business 'sucked'

I had written that at the end of the survey.  The survey itself was a long list of questions rating several attributes of the Hyatt Place in Bentonville.  It asked the respondent to rate those attributes along a series of radio buttons from 1 to 10.

(Incidentally, when I see customer surveys asking for a 1 to 10 score, I immediately assume they're going to evaluate themselves on the 'Net Promoter Score', which is a framework that Bain & Co. invented to identify the people who will actively recommend your business [Promoters who score it a 9 or a 10], versus the detractors [I believe those who score it a 1 or 2].  The rest of the people in the middle are just the squishy middlers,  I think they get ignored)

Anyway, because I have that bias against surveys that ask for a 1 to 10 rating, I'm careful to only give extremely high or extremely low scores to stuff I really love or really hate.

The only thing I gave a bad score for was the hotel gym, everything else was pretty good for a Hyatt Place in the middle of Arkansas.

But honestly, the gym was pretty crappy.  The door was busted, so someone had to wedge it open with a towel.  The aforementioned free weights, which were the only weight training equipment in the room, were five pairs of dumbbells ranging from 5 pounds to 25 pounds.  That's fine if I'm a 65 year old woman suffering from osteoporosis, but not if I'm looking to actually work out.  They also had a rack of towels, which would have been great, except they were pool towels that you had a hard time balancing on the treadmills.  It was also about half the size of my hotel room, which does kind of explain the lack of equipment but in my mind, doesn't absolve them.  It's freaking Arkansas, they've got more space everywhere.

There, in a nutshell, is my complete critique.  A bit harsh maybe, but it's at least specific and to the point (it may also be colored by my own personal biases, which is a bad thing, but whatever).  That could be construed as reasonable feedback.

But that's not what I wrote on the survey.  I just wrote that the gym sucked.

And that's why I felt bad.  Not because I used hurtful language, but because I did that and didn't even tell them how I thought they could fix the problem.  I regret the decision.

Although not the word choice, because it really did kind of suck.

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