I recently stayed at the Country Inn & Suites in San Diego, CA.  I needed a place for a weekend and while I normally would grab a place like the Hilton at Torrey Pines or The Pearl in Point Loma, my family was going to be visiting and I needed a decently priced suite that would accommodate their visits to the hotel.  I had never stayed at the Country Inn & Suites but they had a “stay two nights, get one free” deal.  As I needed three nights, I booked the room.

The hotel itself was decent.  Nothing fancy or overdone.  But, I have to say that I was quite impressed with the level of service the hotel provided.  I required an early morning check-in (around 9am instead of 3pm).  I called to let them know and they assured me they would do their best to have a room ready as early as I needed it.  Sure enough, when I showed up that morning the room was waiting and ready.  Also, the room included breakfast for the guests.  As I had family there in the mornings, I didn’t think that I would have a chance to take advantage of this.  Upon mentioning this at the desk, the manager came out to give me his assurance that my whole visiting family was welcome to the free breakfast every morning of my stay – all eight of them!  The staff was always pleasant and greeted me with a smile and friendly “hello” in the halls.  They made my stay one of the most enjoyable I’ve had in San Diego.

But perhaps what impressed me the most with this hotel was the day after I had checked-out there was an email asking me to take a quick survey about my stay.  I had a free minute so I went for it.  It was quick and painless, but pretty thorough.  I sent it off and that was that.  Or so I thought.  A few hours later, I had an email from the manager of the hotel thanking me for the survey and apologizing for the few things I had marked it down on.  At the end of the email he gave me his direct line at the hotel and welcomed anymore feedback I would like to give.

I’m sure the email was automatically generated, but it made me – as a customer – feel that much more valued.  In the world of small business, making your customers feel valued is a great way to get them to see you as valuable.  Asking for and being open to honest feedback (no matter how good, no matter how bad) is a good start.  But if you really want them to go the extra mile, take some personal time for that feedback.  Thank them individually for their comments and assure them that you are trying to find ways to improve.

What’s more?  Actually do it.  After all, their the kind of people you are serving.  If they’re willing to tell you how to serve them better it will help you not only retain them as a customer, but it will help you get more customers like  them.  Getting customer feedback is critical to success, but it doesn’t help you or your customers to leave a pile of comments and surveys sitting in your inbox.  Read them and follow through.  It can make all the difference.


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