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How to avoid “12X Syndrome” in customer satisfaction

As a business owner, you know there’s truth in the old adage “You can’t please all the people, all the time” – especially in a service-oriented industry.

Comment cards and online surveys are largely ineffective when it comes to customer satisfaction. The solution? Immediate feedback and response.

Comment cards and online surveys are largely ineffective when it comes to customer satisfaction. The solution? Immediate feedback and response.

Restaurants. Hotels. Resorts. No matter how great a facility and staff you have, it’s inevitable. Someone, sometime, will be unhappy about his or her service.

Maybe the guest felt they had to wait too long to be seated. Or there weren’t enough hand towels in the hotel room. Perhaps the special excursion they wanted to book – last minute – was sold out. Whatever the case, the trick is to find out – and fix – the problem fast, before the customer leaves.

But why is the time-to-act element so critical?

The 12X Syndrome

12X Syndrome means it takes 12 positive experiences to counter each negative one, according to studies. The ultimate goal is to make the customer happy so they’ll return. However, there are other areas to consider as well.

People love to share their experiences – good and bad – with friends. A recent American Express customer satisfaction survey indicates consumers are twice likely to share a negative experience than a positive one. In today’s mobile society, people can share an experience at the tap of their finger – a Tweet, a Facebook post, a photo on Pinterest.

So what can restaurants battling 12X Syndrome do to win back their hard-earned reputations?

Treating the Syndrome

Typical approaches to improving customer satisfaction include increased management supervision, comment cards and online surveys, but these methods are costly and largely ineffective. Comment cards and survey links are often ignored or forgotten, and even if a restaurant addresses any negative feedback received after the fact, it’s often too late.

A timely vaccine is better

The key is to identify potential problems before they boil over. The focus should be on remedying a situation and meeting the needs of the guests before they leave the premises.

Receiving and acting on timely information is the vaccine for 12X Syndrome. That’s where digital survey applications like Check Point come in.

These interactive tablet-based apps are a proactive, preventative approach to gauging and ensuring customer satisfaction. Instead of paper comment cards or online survey links, the server can simply hand the guest a tablet along with their check. The tablet displays an attractive, customized survey that’s simple to complete as well as anonymous. A few simple taps here and there, while the guest is still thinking about it and the feedback is captured.

If the guest response happens to be less than stellar, these tablets can alert the manager on-duty so that they can take steps to remedy the situation before the guest even leaves the table.

An ounce of prevention is worth 12 ounces of cure

These days, the speed of social media makes it imperative that guest complaints are handled immediately. Without this timely feedback, restaurants can’t properly act and address the situation, causing customers to take to the web with their grievances.

The best way to thwart 12X Syndrome is to make it simple and painless for guests to provide real-time feedback. Diagnosing a problem early makes for happier customers, and thereby, healthier businesses.


Learn How to Receive and Respond to Customer Feedback

Complete the form below to download The Power of Instant Customer Feedback. This free eBook gives insights into how to best collect, analyze and take action on guest feedback.

Mai Lyn Ngo is a marketing coordinator at LRS and ambassador for solutions that create a better guest experience.



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