Digital tools give a sporting chance

Operators should use online feedback to tailor their offer ahead of the Commonwealth Games, says David Capaldi of Opinurate

• Customers are less likely to post negative reviews online if outlets engage with them, says David Capaldi.

WITH less than fourteen days to go, Glasgow has one chance to make the most of the profile offered by the Commonwealth Games 2014.

But finding out afterwards that businesses didn’t get it quite right is too late.
Scottish hospitality businesses are much slower than their American counterparts to invest in easily-available technology to provide instant feedback on customer satisfaction.
American companies like Amazon and Hyatt Hotels are hailed as leaders of customer experience because they use technology to put customers at the centre of what they do.

• David Capaldi is chief executive of customer service software firm Opinurate.

Retailers in Scotland are better at checking customer opinion, but Scottish hospitality outlets, in my experience, are falling behind.
Being a trusted brand in these days of online recommendation is the only sure-fire way of ensuring longevity in a crowded, competitive marketplace and of course increasing profit.
Research from Temkin Group has shown that a modest increase of 10% in customer experience performance can translate into hundreds of thousands of pounds in generated revenue for their hospitality and retail clients.
And research from The Lexis Agency shows the most powerful and persuasive recommendations of all come from online comments on such websites as TripAdvisor and Google.
Yet these sites can cause a headache for the hospitality sector, with posts that are exaggerated and inaccurate.
It is often these posts that are the most enticing and, sadly for businesses, the comments within them can directly influence consumer decisions.

The most powerful recommendations of all come from online comments.

Outlets without a customer feedback system in place leave themselves in a vulnerable position where they are open to consumers taking to other sites to discuss their experiences.
Had these businesses put the measures in place to communicate directly with their customers, the public reviews may never have been written.
During the Games, public reviews will be even more prominent, with the world’s media acting as a ‘TripAdvisor’ throughout the event.
Businesses may invest heavily in venues and staff training, but customers will not always volunteer if simple things like lighting or parking put them off visiting. Or that the food and entertainment choices need tweaking for different markets at different times.
The simple act of asking customers for feedback is a visible sign that management don’t take success for granted.
Unlike the retail sector, where the customer goes in, browses, buys and leaves; the hospitality sector has so many more touch points with customers, so many more instances where something can go wrong.
Delivering excellent customer service standards will help Scotland’s hospitality sector capitalise on the opportunities around the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Ryder Cup and Scottish Homecoming.
It is encouraging that there are a variety of industry-backed training portals which help train staff to deliver excellent customer service.
However, if the same business that invests in the training doesn’t evaluate its customers’ feedback, then how does it know it is delivering the service its customers want?
There are only a couple of weeks left until an influx of people come into the city for the Games.
Glasgow is renowned across the world as a hospitable city and it intends to offer a warm welcome, but I’d love to think that preparations were being made on the basis of researched fact, rather than just hope and effort.
• David Capaldi is chief executive of customer service software firm Opinurate.