Online Feedback Drives Employees to Take Ownership of Customer Service

© iQoncept - Fotolia.com
© iQoncept - Fotolia.com

The stories of the effect of employee motivation, engagement, and overall attitude on customer service are plentiful.

But as Minnesota-based Parasole Restaurant Holdings – one of the nation’s leading restaurant concept generators, operators and developers (founders of Oceanaire, Buca Di Beppo) – found, linking employees directly to what customers are saying online has dramatically increased staff ownership of the employee/customer relationship.

In the not too distant past, brands – especially those in the hospitality industry – had to rely on “small sample size” shopper reports, dated surveys, and/or inconsistent comments cards to evaluate customer perspective on service and food quality. Now with all of the websites devoted to reviews and comments from customers, everyone is a critic.

How feedback is skyrocketing

Furthermore, the reach and influence of these critics is skyrocketing through social media feedback:

  • Facebook boasts some 750 million users worldwide;
  • Twitter receives 95 million Tweets everyday;
  • Yelp has surpassed 50 million monthly unique users;
  • The number of Foursquare check-ins exploded by 3400 percent in 2010; and,
  • 90 percent of consumers online trust recommendations from people they know; 70 percent trust opinions of unknown users.

Figuring out how to mine all of that instant information and present it in a way that is understandable and actionable is critical.

Partnering with newBrandAnaltyics, Parasole has been able to effectively capture a complete, real-time view of customer feedback online, synthesize it into the richest customer insight, and generate the actionable insights needed to improve customer satisfaction and increase revenue.

“Business leaders understand the importance of leveraging online mentions about their brands, regions, and units as customer feedback assets that can be utilized to drive operational improvement, grow guest count, and strengthen revenues,” explains Ashish Gambhir, Co-Founder and EVP of newBrandAnalytics. “Many companies like Parasole are also seeing that sharing online customer feedback from social media channels with their employees gives them a renewed and sustained sense of motivation for and ownership of customer service and the overall customer experience.”

Every customer experience counts

Armed with this type of customer feedback data, Parasole employees now recognize and accept that everyone is a critic and that they can read about their performance on the Internet daily, good or bad. Every experience counts.

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For example, management at Good Earth, a Parasole restaurant, had noticed that customer service was slipping. Management knew there were issues with customer service, but really weren’t sure what the root causes of the issues were. And with an increasing number of competitors moving into the market, it was even more important to make sure the organization was delivering an exceptional experience to customers.

Tapping into the performance dashboards, managers could see instantly the customer feedback themes that bubbled to the top. These performance reports not only validated the low customer service ratings, but crystallized the trouble spots that needed improvement (slow service and inattentive hostess) so management could quickly make the changes needed.

These findings were shared with the staff, the necessary modifications were made, and management recognized and rewarded employees for their improved customer relations. Within five months of implementing changes, customer service ratings improved by 78 percent.

While online customer feedback has been considered a very valuable marketing and operations tool, this example clearly illustrates why Parasole’s HR executives are now embracing its intrinsic value in driving employee motivation and productivity. They have seen that when employees realize that with the push of a button every customer can readily share their experience – good or bad – in the social media world, that they quickly and passionately take ownership of customer service.

Kip Taylor is VP Marketing & Business Development at Parasole Restaurant Holdings . Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Parasole is one of the nation’s leading restaurant concept generators, operators and developers, and operates Manny’s Steakhouse, Pittsburgh Blue Steakhouse, Muffuletta Café and the Good Earth Restaurants among others.

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