Measuring the guest experience: beyond data


Measuring the guest experience: beyond data

Steven Pike

Managing Director, Steven Pike, on measuring the guest experience using today's level of insight.

When it comes to measuring guest experience, until recently, technology has been used as an add-on, augmenting human knowledge. You’d start with a real life problem or concern: Why is your upselling rate so low? Why don’t you have more repeat customers? Why do families choose your competitor over you? Then, you’d create a way of measuring it, via a questionnaire. Such questionnaires were often one-size-fits-all rather than tailored in the context of a particular brand promise. The data from this was the endpoint, and aside from presenting it, little happened afterwards. The business was left to draw conclusions and create an action plan themselves.

Now, there is far more value add after data is gathered. The data has become the starting point for a new, forensic level of insight. New platforms for measuring guest experience facilitate far more interaction, and enable a granular level of analytics, which throws up a richer picture of guest experience and ensures you can compare it more accurately to broader market data, contrasting the quality of different parts of the customer journey to spot any weak links in your delivery. This is far more useful than flat data.

Technical advances mean it’s also easier to blend in diverse data from other downstream sources into a bigger picture analysis of guest experience. Results from review sites, social data, weather, sales, training and other sources are all relevant when trying to build a balanced view and to identify correlations and even forecasts. The use of what-if style data visualisations mean that operators can learn much more than they could from siloed data such as NPS scores.

The final value-add is the human interpretation that sits on top of this new, improved data. This is where experience is key. When measuring guest experience, it’s easy to miss valuable and unexpected insight because it doesn’t quite fit the original brief of what you set out to understand. Similarly, it’s also easy to misinterpret insights from mystery guest visits without an informed context to set them in. Data is valueless without the expertise to make sense of it, and without an understanding of hospitality culture to inform this expertise. The value of any data relies on your ability to turn it into actionable insight that you can use immediately to improve performance across your business.

As soon as a business begins to think of hospitality as a process, delivered by people, it becomes something that be broken down and methodically improved upon. Identifying the interactions guests have with your front of house team and breaking these down into discreet, measurable touchpoints ensures you can analyse every step of the customer journey. Feedback becomes specific – far more useful for training. Any conclusions drawn relate back to a series of recorded interactions. The data for measuring this sits in the middle of a process, rather than as an end in itself. Insight begins with asking the right questions and concludes with actionable interpretation.

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