Anthony reflects on customer satisfaction from the other side of the survey…

To escape the doom, gloom and rain of Manchester I have recently been on a getaway to Hurghada in Egypt.


I was two days into a week holiday, when upon returning to the hotel room I noticed a letter had been slipped under the door.

Now as much as I love my job as a researcher, the point of my holiday was to take a break from work and find my zen, so it was much to my dismay that the letter was in fact a “mid-week” customer satisfaction survey.  You just can’t escape them can you?!

The survey had about 10 questions and a note to say it would be collected the following day. My first thought was “it’s not the middle of my holiday yet, I am only on my second day” and then I turned my attention to the questions and found that many of them were wasted on me as they were asking me to rate services of which I was yet to experience.

I answered as much as I could whilst begrudgingly adding my own ‘not applicable’ to the questions which were not (at that point in time) relevant to me.

Now although I was having a lovely holiday (the complex itself was great, the weather was amazing and the surrounding Red Sea Mountains were breathtaking), there was something that was starting to grate on me a little.

Every time I went back to the room there was a knock on the door and it was invariably the cleaner, holiday representative, porter or even spa staff. It seemed that they didn’t have a genuine reason to knock other than to say “Hi”, ask how my day was, whether I needed anything, etc. etc.  I know I probably sound like Victor Meldrew (if you are too young to know that name, look him up!) and they were generally being polite and obviously just doing their jobs, but when all you want to do is relax in the privacy of your room it becomes a bit frustrating.

As is pretty standard with questionnaires, at the bottom there was a space to write ‘Any other comments’. I started writing and got as far as “It would be nice if…” What I really wanted to write was “It would be nice if every time we came to the room we were not mithered by a cleaner, holiday rep or hotel worker.”

However, my other half was quick to shoot me down on that matter by suggesting that it might make the rest of our stay awkward, so what I actually ended up writing was “It would be nice if we had some vodka in the room.”

So rather than get my honest and accurate feedback they were instead left with a cheeky request for my favourite tipple!

Would my comments have been any different had I been asked the same set of questions at a different time (i.e. the end of my stay) or even through a different channel (i.e. an anonymous online survey)? Definitely!

Firstly, if I was given the questionnaire at the end of my stay I would have been able to answer all of the questions as I would have had the time to experience a full week of staying at the hotel and using all of their services. Secondly I would have been more willing to share my true thoughts as I would have been well on my way back to blighty and the Manchester rain with no concern for feeling awkward. Furthermore, had the questionnaire been delivered online with the option of my feedback remaining anonymous then maybe I could have gone to town and written what I was truly thinking.

This all goes to show that timing and methodology are extremely important and must be considered carefully when developing a research solution! This is something that we give much attention to at Mustard to ensure that we receive accurate, wide-ranging and unbiased feedback.

vodkaBack to my favourite tipple, it would appear that being cheeky pays off. The day after filling in the questionnaire I came back to the room (after a tiring day of sun bathing) to find a bottle of vodka and a bottle of coke waiting for me.  Happy days!