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Evalutating Customer Service with Coaching Questions

Feeling rather down in the dumps after a stinking cold and a period of prolonged building work at my house, I decided to take myself off for a luxury spa break for a few days.   

Overall, I had a lovely time; I forgot about the builders and gave my body the rest and relaxation it needed to recover. But there were a couple of issues that rather tainted my experience. Feedback was given at the time but, given the extortionate cost of the place, I felt that the staff could have dealt better with my complaint.

So, I was quite delighted when a feedback form pinged into my inbox this morning, asking for my views on the whole stay. And, with a good combination of both quantitative and qualitative style questions, it seemed the hotel were genuinely keen to hear my views rather than purely going through the motions of sending out a form for customers to tick.

The questions that were asked included my thoughts on every aspect of my stay, from the fine dining experience, to the staff, to the rooms and everything else in between. The form, in good feedback form style, asked me to rate each experience on a scale of 1-10. All well and good, but it occurred to me that whilst they were genuinely interested in my opinion, they really weren’t asking the right questions to seek out what my expectations actually were; what it was that I expected to see, hear and feel when I rocked up on their door step 4 days ago. Was my experience of 4 Star hotels vast and therefore likely to increase the expectations I had of this calibre of hotel?  Or had I till now only stayed in the local downtown B&B’s which could also impact on what I was expecting from my little break.

In coaching, we use what are called ‘scale based questions’.  A scale based question asks a client to rate their happiness/levels of commitment (or indeed pretty much anything related to their goal) on a scale of 1–10. This then becomes the measure for progress and represents good, sound quantitative feedback. We then seek to elicit what that rating actually means for them personally by asking “What does a number (e,g., 5) look, sound and feel like for you? And that’s important because it is about their own personal representation of what they have or want to experience. The answer to this question gives us good, qualitative feedback to support the score. Of course, we’re all aiming for scores of 10; the epitome of happiness, commitment and goal achievement and as coaches it’s our job to help our client understand what needs to happen for them to arrive at a 10. We do this by asking this killer question: “What would it take to get this score to a 10?” This question allows us to elicit quality information that reveals significant insights into our client’s perceptions around the topic in question.

Now, the feedback form from the hotel I visited had (as most do) a section for comments, which is good practice, but I do question how valuable the information is that they receive. For me, it turned mostly into a bit of a ranting paragraph about the bits that had gone wrong. What if the hotel had instead included a scale based question which asked “What would it take for your experience to have been rated a 10?” Surely that would give them much better quality information that was reflective of their customer’s expectations and specific detail on the improvements that need to happen in order to achieve the best service possible for their customers.

Now isn’t that a question worth asking?

April 4 2016Karen Fleming

Karen Fleming

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