The Positive Side to Negative Feedback — A Discussion with Daniel Fleming, Owner of Award-Winning Boutique Hotel

How to effectively manage negative feedback — a chat with an expert managing discerning guests
James Donald
August 9, 2021

We had a chat with Daniel Fleming, Owner and Manager of King & Queen Hotel Suites (a top-rated boutique hotel), about negative feedback.  With discerning guests carrying high expectations, Daniel is extremely experienced at managing customer feedback.  

Unfortunately, all of your customers aren’t going to be happy all of the time — receiving negative feedback, while hard, is an inevitable part of running a business. However, there's a silver lining. Negative feedback can provide you with valuable insights and if acted on properly, it can result in many positive outcomes for your business.

Every single business should be gathering feedback from its customers. Without customer feedback, how do you know what your business is doing well and what it could be doing better? If your customers are unhappy, that’s something you need to know about. You should never underestimate the power of word of mouth — It can make or break your business. If your customers are unhappy with the service they’ve received, and they haven’t had a chance to share it with you directly, there’s a huge risk that they’ll be sharing their experience with everyone they know, and through online review sites which can be massively detrimental to your business and your brand.

How does your team manage negative customer feedback?

“On checkout, we have an opportunity to seek customer feedback and straight away you get a vibe if someone is unhappy with the experience they’ve had. If for some reason the team aren’t able to resolve it at that point and it gets escalated to me or a senior manager, our rule is that we need to call that person or get in touch with them within 24 hours, with a remedy and leave nothing open.”

"We need to call that person or get in touch with them within 24 hours, with a remedy and leave nothing open."

“If you don't address things at the time, or quickly after, then ultimately it goes online within a matter of days or even hours. So we have to be far more responsive now when it comes to negative feedback. We can't just wait and hope that it'll just resolve itself.”

“The best way to resolve everything is to be open about it. More often than not people just want to feel heard and acknowledged, they don't actually want anything in return. There are some things you can control, some things you can't. Regardless, it’s still important to listen to everything and take it seriously,” says Daniel.

Delivering great customer experiences is a team effort, and is rarely the work of just one person, but sometimes, many of the people involved work behind the scenes in non-customer-facing roles, and don’t hear or see what clients experienced. The best way to connect your staff with business outcomes is by connecting them with what customers think, the good and the bad.

How do you share negative feedback with your team members?

“We are very transparent with the entire team about what feedback we get and how we deal with it. We don’t often get negative feedback, but by regularly sharing how we deal with feedback, both positive and negative, means if someone in our team finds themselves in that situation with a customer in the future they have an understanding of how we expect to deal with it then and there, and some tools to address it”

“If we don't pass on the feedback and we don't share the constructive along with the positive, then how are people expected to learn and do better? It's not about pointing the finger. You want to keep a good culture and keep everyone happy, but at the same time, build accountability.”

Why is customer feedback important to you and your business?

“Feedback drives continuous improvement. If everything was perfect all the time it'd be boring. So actually having some feedback means we can develop a new system process or look at our training or development of our team or whatever we need to do. And it's quite a kind of fun proposition put in front of us to be like, how do we do this better? How do we rethink it?"

“For us, it's not good enough for customers to have an okay or an acceptable experience or one that ‘meets their expectations. We want them to have an experience that exceeds their expectations and turns them into cheerleaders for our business.”

In summary, collecting customer feedback is essential to business growth — loyal customers grow a business faster than any sales or marketing method.

Ready to start collecting direct feedback and reviews? Sign up for a free 14-day Yonder trial here.

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