Hilton’s Director of Syndicated Customer Research Talks About Medallia
MENLO PARK, CA—February 1, 2007—Stephen Hardenburg, Director of Syndicated Customer Research for all the Hilton brands, recently gave an interview about Hilton’s guest surveying program. The interviewer was contacted (via the Medallia system) by the General Manager of the hotel he had just evaluated. This “surprising” outcome prompted him to find out more about Hilton’s program.
Here are excerpts from from the interview between Stephen Hardenburg and Dr. Fred Van Bennekom, Principal of Great Brook, an organization whose mission is to help organizations develop robust feedback management of information flows from all the functions that touch the customer—sales, marketing, service, and support.
Dr. Fred Van Bennekom: “Ever fill out a survey and wonder if anyone ever reads it? I do—and I’m in the business of teaching people how to conduct a survey. So imagine my surprise when I got an email from Will Maloney, the General Manager of the Hilton hotel in Pearl River, NY, the day after I completed a survey about my stay at his hotel. I was surprised—and thrilled—to see the manager take the survey so seriously. Not surprisingly, I inquired about Hilton’s survey design practices, and he put me in touch with Stephen Hardenburg, who is the Director of Syndicated Customer Research for all the Hilton brands.”
Dr. Fred Van Bennekom: Tell me about the Hilton surveying program.
Stephen Hardenburg: We do transactional surveys after a guest’s hotel stay has ended. We conduct surveys for all 10 of our brands at close to 3,000 hotels worldwide. This past year we have over 1.5 million completed surveys administered in 25 languages across 78 countries. We partner with Medallia, Inc. to conduct the surveys….
Dr. Fred Van Bennekom: Now let’s get to the interesting part since this is what got me connected to you. What do you do with the data?
Stephen Hardenburg: The great thing about Medallia reporting is that it is live data, updated on a nightly basis. So, a hotel could see how the front desk is being rated on, say, friendliness today versus yesterday. If there’s a change, they can take quick action to address the issue.
Dr. Fred Van Bennekom: Will Maloney, the General Manager at the Pearl River Hilton, wrote to me that “each morning over my coffee I review the surveys from the day before and write a response to every customer survey our hotel receives, whether it’s positive, negative, or somewhere in between.” I guess he wasn’t joking!
Stephen Hardenburg: No, he wasn’t. Our goal is to get the hotel managers to be responsive and to fix problems quickly. By getting them this feedback faster, we’re giving them the tools to do this. That’s part of the reason why we’re pushing to get the surveys out faster after the hotel stay ends. It also shows our customers that their feedback is important to us and we really do value their input.
Dr. Fred Van Bennekom: At an aggregate level, how do you report the data?
Stephen Hardenburg: …The data are used in the Balanced Scorecard process both at the brand level and at the hotel level as part of their bonus plans. What gets measured gets results. These bonuses go deep into the staff. The hotels will have different incentives for each department, for example, front desk staff and housekeeping, and for the hotel as a whole by week, by month, etc. The bonuses then roll up for the region level and the brand level. It’s a very complex bonus structure…
Read the full interview:: http://www.greatbrook.com/hotel_survey.htm