True colors

Get to know your customers

Maloney is proud of the customer service that his company provides. But surveys showed that it didn’t quite match up to the way
customers rated their on-site and sales experiences.

“They weren’t necessarily getting the reservations they wanted,”
Maloney says. “They didn’t really understand the product maybe
as fully as they could.”

So Maloney looked into the survey results, discovered where the
problems were and began talking about it with his employees.

“[We had] talk after talk, speech after speech, meeting after meeting to explain exactly what those scores were, how it impacted our
business and what we were going to do about it,” Maloney says. “I
don’t think it’s by accident that within a short period of time after
that, those marks not only went up but all other kinds of measurements of customer service went up. That wasn’t coincidence.”

You need to do more than just look at data and read reports if you
truly want to know what your customers think about. You need to
get out of your office and talk with customers and get their direct
feedback about their experience with your company.

Maloney takes time to walk the grounds of one of his Bluegreen
resorts to get his own assessment of how things are going.

“Just to see a father in hand with his daughter walking down to get
a newspaper,” Maloney says. “He’s on vacation, and he projects that.
That’s one of those intangibles. I could see a customer service score
that said the average customer rated their stay a 9.1 out of 10. That’s
reliable data. But the other part of it is to watch that family checking
in and the kids brimming with excitement.”

Bluegreen recently sought direct customer feedback when considering a change to one of its new projects.

“We were in a design review committee meeting, which is a program we have internally to decide what our village should look like
as we develop them,” Maloney says. “We were considering making
an adjustment on the second phase of a project. Informally, we just
went to the people that managed the property to get feedback on
the issue, and we had the answer very quickly. The customer was
satisfied with the first configuration. There was no need to make
an adjustment.

“There’s lot of soft ways, if you’ve got engaged leaders, that you
can really just pick up the phone and ask, ‘How does the customer
feel?’ It’s anecdotal, but it’s powerful information.”

Data has its place, and Bluegreen has developed a strong partnership with a company that measures both employee and customer
sentiment about the organization.

“In a big and dynamic company like ours, or any company that is
our size with as many moving parts, you need to rely on data,”
Maloney says. “You need to have the right people interpreting it or,
more importantly, not misinterpreting it. But there is the other side
of that. Walking the hallways, there is a feel or tenor for people’s
attitude that you can’t put a number or a scorecard on.”

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