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Michael Owens: Place value on customer service reviews — or lack thereof

In this day and age, businesses live and die by reviews—especially in tourism. A positive review can bring more customers. A negative review can teach us where our weaknesses lie.

But, what about the non-existent review?

The other day, my family and I went out to eat at a local restaurant. The server was so kind to our young son. He was sweet and attentive, and of course, I went berserk. After leaving a large tip on our bill, I spoke with the manager about my appreciation for our server’s excellent customer service. I also wrote a glowing online review, and my family can’t wait to return to that restaurant—after that one great experience.

With a positive review, most managers know what to do. We may offer bonuses to reward positive behavior. We use it as a teaching tool for others within the business. We also know that positive reviews lead to more sales, more customers, and more repeat business.

Most of the time, we also know what to do with negative reviews. We learn who on our team needs some staff realignment. We see where there is breakdown in our systems and adjust as needed. We gain a renewed need for training. Hopefully, we also respond to the customer’s concern with a personal note. We offer to make amends. We try to win the customer back in an effort to do some service recovery.

So, what happens if you’re not getting any reviews?

Well, chances are, your customer service stinks.

Here’s why I believe this to be true. It’s human nature for us to go along with status quo. We don’t want to rock the boat or be the one that’s always making a scene. It extricates us from our tribe. Out of convenience, we will just go with the flow because to have to say something and try to affect change would take time and energy that is not in excess.

When there’s bad customer service, we accept it. When someone does not greet us as we enter the business, we just go along with it. When someone fails to use the basic please or thank you, we move on. When someone answers the phone as if you’re putting them out for calling their business, we spend our money with them anyway.

This is why, I believe the public standard for customer service has deteriorated.

In your business, if no one is submitting positive reviews, you’re simply accepting that mediocrity is your standard of customer interaction. You can be better than that, and your business will benefit if you do.

I implore you to do an assessment of your customer service and see why more people aren’t writing radiant reviews.

This is your opportunity to exact your own measure of what you expect out of your staff members. If you really assess and change the things that need to be changed, the positive feedback will pour in.

Failing to improve customer service because you’re not getting complaints is like assuming you’re a good cook because you’ve never given anyone food poisoning.

If you were to invest in training your team, imagine how much happier people would be on the job. Imagine how much more likely they would be to stay at that job. Imagine the return on that investment.

As I think back to the excellent customer service that my family and I received at a local restaurant, I wonder why we all don’t have that expectation for great customer service. Maybe if we expected it in others, we would demand it of ourselves.

Michael Owens is president/CEO of the Tourism Leadership Council, the largest non-profit trade organization that supports and represents the tourism community. Contact Owens at michael@tourismleadershipcouncil.com or by calling 912-232-1223.

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