RV Park Mastery: Episode 35

The Power Of Harnessing Customer Feedback

Your customers are the life’s blood of your business. But many RV park owners are missing out on the opportunity to fully understand the feedback from these consumers. In this RV Park Mastery podcast we’re going to review some simple, business-changing methods to harness the power of feedback to move your business in the right direction and increase your customer satisfaction and, as a result, your revenue.

Episode 35: The Power Of Harnessing Customer Feedback Transcript

Who has the most important say in your business, is it you? Is it the manager? Is it your bank? No, it's your customer. This is Frank Rolfe, the RV Park Mastery Podcast. We're gonna talk about harnessing customer feedback. Really listening to what customers are saying, so you can take action to make your business the best it can possibly be. So how do we hear from our customers? What are the methods to find out what their needs and thoughts are about our performance?

Well, the first way is surveys. Surveys have been around forever. I don't know who created the first survey, it was probably 1000 years ago. Now, 1000 years ago, surveys only came in one style of course, and that was written. Today, you can have both written and online surveys. The problem is different people are happy and comfortable doing it in different methods. Older Americans tend to like them in writing, they don't really feel that comfortable with computers. And so basically, if you give them a questionnaire survey, they're typically more than happy to fill it out. Give 'em the survey and a pen, little Dropbox to put the survey and they'll do that for you. People like to be heard. It's like voting in an election. So people are typically more than happy to go ahead and take the steps to get that done. But younger people, millennials, they like to do it more online.

So also, you wanna have that option. The key to a successful survey is basically to give people both methods so that you can let all voices be heard. If you go with just online, you'll only get the response of younger people. If you do it just in writing, you might only get the response of older, older people.

What do you put on the survey? Well, typically you don't wanna have more than about 10 questions. You want them to vote basically on well, 1-10 scale, on a number of issues. Was the check-in successful? Were they treated correctly? Property condition fine? Anything you think is the key driver to that business needs to be on that survey. We all take surveys. Everywhere I go, it doesn't matter where you go. Post Office, Taco Bell, everyone's got surveys. It is not hard to go online and find the actual surveys from almost any business. Don't have to be creative with it. Just take the surveys of other larger RV Park owners, if you'd like. The key item is have a survey, start listening to what customers are saying about your business. That's the kind of real information that you need.

Another thing you can do, is you can capture the phone numbers of your customers in the RV Park, and then later call them to get their opinion to see how their stay was. You see, not all people are going to fill out a survey. There are certain people that will, and then there are other people who won't, but I wanna get the information, I wanna hear the voice of those who don't typically participate in surveys. Exit interviews, which is calling a customer after the fact is a great way to tap into that market. Not only will you get a lot of great information from one-to-one encounter on the phone, you can hear a lot more than you can on a survey. You can hear a lot more detailed feedback from them on many, many items of their stay. But additionally, it's a great affirmation to them that you really care. I know myself, when I get calls, for example, if I get my car repaired and then to get a call from the company that repaired the car to see how is the car doing? And we really value you as a customer, I am more likely to be more loyal to that car dealership than I was before they did that.

So exit interviews can also be extremely beneficial to getting really good feedback on how your RV Park is doing. But perhaps the most important of all ways to harness customer feedback is social media reviews. Now, what's a social media review? Well, I know that everyone in America at this point knows what I'm talking about. We all select restaurants, we all select destinations, and we all select everything today by what others tell us is good from what is bad. Many times I've been going down the road thinking I'm gonna stop for lunch, and I look at the social media reviews of the various restaurants in the town. And then I suddenly won't go to that Mexican restaurant right there that I typically would, because it has terrible reviews. One-star review. Worst food ever. Don't go there. I got food poisoning going there. And so I don't go. Everyone does the same.

Social media reviews have become such a powerful force in marketing, it's almost scary. They came out of nowhere. These didn't exist prior to the internet. And now suddenly everyone is fixated on them, and of course your customers are no different. So how do we get good social media reviews? Well, that's a very thorny issue. There are some laws on it. The FTC has laws in which you are and are not allowed to do in social media reviews. One of you're not allowed to do is to request a five-star review. You're only allowed to ask people to make social media reviews.

So obviously what you wanna do is you wanna capture customers who are happy. When you see someone who's happy, and if you say, "How was your stay?" And if they say, "Oh, it was fantastic." Then you might say, "Could you give me a social media review?" Great way to go ahead and capture the positive energy right there at the moment. Because the problem is, if you don't capture that happy customer with a happy review, you'll soon find the real people who like to post on social media are the people who are unhappy. That Mexican restaurant that I passed up because it had a one-star review, it only had one review. And that was an unhappy person and it probably had the best food in the whole town. And I missed out on it because I was swayed by the negative opinion of just one person. You see, a lot of time, the problem is the RV Park owner doesn't ask people to post. And as a result, what happens is only the really unhappy people who really hate your guts are gonna post anything on there, and everyone else is not.

So there's nothing to dilute what they do. In the case of the Mexican restaurant, having just the one person with a one-star review, they would have been lost if you had 100 people with five star reviews. You would've ended up on a nearly perfect score. So you've got to dilute those negative reviews with, of course, finally, a large number of positive reviews. You also need to go back on the people who have negative reviews and see if you can solve it. You might extend out to them some kind of discount if they'll come back or explain what happened. Social media experts tell you the worst thing you can humanly do on a negative review is to leave it unchallenged, don't post something that gives a different perspective. We all know there's two sides to every story. Everyone who reads those negative reviews, kinda in the back of their mind thinks, "Well, that customer probably just hates their guts for some other reason. Or that's probably a competitor of theirs who wrote a negative review just to screw them over." So when you have a negative review, you've got to counter that, give the opposing viewpoint, reach out, try to make them happy. But most of all, you've gotta dilute those negative reviews with a ton of positive reviews.

Now, what do you do when you gather all these reviews? Put 'em in a drawer? Throw 'em in the trash. No, people often lose track. The whole point of surveying, of getting that customer feedback is to harness that power to make your RV Park better. Tabulate the results, look at those statistics on a quantum level. When you get in 100 reviews, that is such valuable information. Now, you're not getting just the errant thoughts of one or two customers, you're getting to get some really good data.

Note that during the political season, you ever look at those polls they have over which Republican or which Democrat is in the lead. Those surveys, which sometimes represent cities, lets say it's a mayoral contest, a city of three million people, the survey is based on only calling 1000 people. So if you can get in a 100 responses on a survey, well, you're getting a better, more accurate presentation than someone trying to figure out who the next mayor of Baltimore might be. So take the information and act upon it. Remember that you gotta go for the average. Some customers hate everything like that Mexican restaurant. And others just put a straight 10 all the way down because they're lazy and don't even wanna think about the survey. But when you get to the average of that, you're getting some really, really powerful thought.

And don't forget on social media reviews, the problem is that not only are you getting powerful feedback, but it's right there in your face for all the world to see. You've gotta take action if you have negative reviews, you've gotta solve whatever that problem is. If they say that the chips aren't fresh at the Mexican restaurant, the number one thing the Mexican restaurant has to do is work on getting better chips. Otherwise, all that energy is lost. If you don't take action when people tell you their thoughts, there's no purpose to getting their thoughts and you'll never improve as an RV Park.

The bottom line is that customers are the key, no RV Park can succeed without happy customers. But it's your job, like a Sherpa, to guide your RV Park, to the happy zone where every customer feels like they're getting their money's worth. That they're being listened to, that they're being affirmed, they made the right decision to stop by. Now, when you can provide that, you'll become a very, very successful RV Park owner. This is Frank Rolfe, the RV Park Mastery Podcast. Hope you enjoyed this, talk to you again soon.