Faked/Altered Customer Satisfaction Suveys: Marriott

Since writing about the manner in which some Toyota dealers fake or alter customer satisfaction surveys in order to get a higher score (and more money from Toyota), a former Marriott employee has written in to explain how Marriott franchisees ensure that if you’re unhappy with your Marriott stay… you won’t be receiving a customer satisfaction survey. Our tipster writes:

(Corporate hotels have little to worry about because if they foul up, Marriott will just send in a glut of extra labor to fix the problem.) So how to keep labor costs way down and keep the scores way up? Easy.

Based on logs of guest problems kept by the “At Your Service Agent” (the hotel operator) and the on-property comment cards, the franchise managers know in advance which guests are likely to give the property a low score. Before or soon after the guest checks out, the list of problem guests gets copied to the hotel’s reservationist, the person responsible for updating records in Marriott’s massive guest database called OSCAR. The reservationist opens each problem guest’s file and “updates” the guest’s e-mail and postal addresses–actually changing them to invalid or just plain fake addresses. This way, if the guest gets selected for a GSS survey. . . the survey never arrives. This way, only happy, satisfied guests ever get the surveys, and the franchisors can run a hotel into the ground while laughing all the way to the bank.

Read the rest of the tipster’s email inside.

Marriott, “the leader in brand loyalty,” prides itself on having some of the best customer service in the industry–so much so that the corporate Quality Assurance group uses some really tough metrics. And the stakes are high: these QA metrics determine whether a given franchise hotel gets to keep the Marriott “flag,” or the right to use the brand. Guest surveys are split into two types: on-property comment cards, which alert staff to problems while a guest is still around, and “Guest Satisfaction Surveys.” As the name suggests, the former is just a bellwether, it never gets seen by anyone outside the property. The latter, however, is a corporate metric.

After any given stay, a guest may be randomly selected to receive a “Guest Satisfaction Survey” by e-mail or post. Guests are asked to rank nearly every aspect of the hotel, from breakfast to meeting room temperature, on a scale from 0 to 10. What the survey doesn’t mention is that there are really only two valid scores: 0-7 counts 0, 8-10 counts 1. A hotel’s GSS “Score” is calculated as the percentage of all responses that are 8 or above. Precisely because the stakes are so high, franchise hotels are willing to do anything to keep their scores high. (Corporate hotels have little to worry about because if they foul up, Marriott will just send in a glut of extra labor to fix the problem.) So how to keep labor costs way down and keep the scores way up? Easy.

Based on logs of guest problems kept by the “At Your Service Agent” (the hotel operator) and the on-property comment cards, the franchise managers know in advance which guests are likely to give the property a low score. Before or soon after the guest checks out, the list of problem guests gets copied to the hotel’s reservationist, the person responsible for updating records in Marriott’s massive guest database called OSCAR. The reservationist opens each problem guest’s file and “updates” the guest’s e-mail and postal addresses–actually changing them to invalid or just plain fake addresses. This way, if the guest gets selected for a GSS survey. . . the survey never arrives. This way, only happy, satisfied guests ever get the surveys, and the franchisors can run a hotel into the ground while laughing all the way to the bank.

I doubt Toyota and Marriott franchisors are the only ones who have found the holes in the system….I’m not surprised. It’s the culture of modern business.

4 out of 5 dentists agree: Comment cards mean nothing, and the franchisee knows how to game the survey system. Time to call corporate with your complaints. —MEGHANN MARCO
(Photo: batsignal)