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Snowbird November 22nd, 2013 10:52 AM

Cruise-Line Guest Satisfaction Questionnaires
 
After having completed dozens of cruises, I recently made a pact with myself to no longer complete those "guest" questionnaires. Am I wrong to have taken this stance?


First, the form is addressed to "guests". As John Maxton-Graham once said at a lecture which I attended, "I am a passenger, I paid for my fare"! Hence, as a passenger, I believe that I have no obligation to feel guilty about not handing in a completed survey. Second, I believe that paid onboard personnel, both up and down the management ladder, are the responsible party for monitoring and assessing the performance of employees in their charge. Whenever I have praise, or a complaint, concerning someone, or something, I never shy away from reporting the situation in a timely manner, and to the appropriate individual. Third, my sole purpose for boarding any ship is purely for selfish reasons, relaxation. I therefore see no need to stress myself taking time to reflect on performance issues, while concurrently trying to enjoy my remaining few hours aboard ship before packing and commencing the disembarkation process. Fourth, and lastly, I tire of staff begging, in fact plead, for me to profusely gush in elaborate terms how wonderfully they performed. It is this last point that ultimately led to my decision to no longer be part of this cut-throat business that pits one stressed-out crew member against another. I know the long hours they work, the meager wages cruise-lines pay them in order to make fares affordable and stock dividends attractive, and how some vindictive passenger can ruin the career of a crew member with the stroke of a pen.


So, before embarking on my next cruise, I welcome feedback from other passengers. Am I right, or wrong? If I can be convinced that I am wrong, I will most certainly reconsider my position. Thanks.

Mike M November 22nd, 2013 01:16 PM

I have to agree. I am totally sick and tired of "surveys". You make a call to any call center, to any company, for any reason, and the next thing you get is a phone call or an email asking to take a survey on how well the person did.

It is really becoming ridiculous. The other thing that also irritates me is that if you don't give the highest rating, many companies, cruise lines included, will consider it a negative to the individual and it will be a mark against the person. It is also a negative if you don't do the survey. :roll:

I'm sorry but there are few things I will rate "beyond my expectations" or excellent. There is always room for improvement and if someone does their job in a timely, efficient and friendly manner, I'm happy.

In my professional life I was considered a hard guy when it came to evaluations. I had the job descriptions and duties well defined so people knew what they should be doing and what their job was. Most companies use a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being low and 5 being high. 3 meant you were doing your job as defined and there were no problems. Most people would score in the 3 to 4 range and if you were in the 1 or 2 range we would determine why and steps would be taken to rectify the problem. If the person didn't change then they were gone. Sometimes it was as simple as getting someone the right training, determining what motivated them (it isn't always money) or they just had a bad attitude and needed to be fired or moved to an area that they could do a better job. The only time I would "fudge" this was when the evaluation score was directly tied to compensation. Just because someone is doing their job, as defined, doesn't mean they don't deserve a "cost of living" raise. If I did this then the individual, and my boss, knew that I had done this.

What companies need to do is:

1. Train your management and employees to deliver excellent service and protect the corporation.

2. Empower people to make decisions.

If they make the wrong decision let them know why it was the wrong decision and what they could or should have done so they don't repeat it but don't put a black mark on them for making a decision. I never fired anyone for taking action, even if it was not in the best interest of the company. As long as it was in the best interest of the customer and management was informed there was not a problem. Yes: There are limits. A salesperson or technician cannot give away a $100,000 system or promise something that cannot be delivered. With proper training people know what is possible and what isn't.

3. Reward people for delivering good service and get rid of those who don't. A good manager knows who is doing this without sending out a survey to every customer.

I also hated it when the CD or someone on the service staff literally told you that you "had" to give the top score or they would not get the good cabins or it would hurt their record. Ridiculous and it reduced good people to "begging". It is demeaning to them.

A survey can be a good tool for helping improve service but it should not be the only one you use to make decisions. Like any tool, it should not be overused. When my daughter was a young girl, she was doing needlepoint. She made a needlepoint that hung in my office that said: "If you only have a hammer then every problem looks like a nail."

Corporations really need to look into themselves for answers. Heal thyself and your customers will be happy.

Take care,
Mike

green_rd November 24th, 2013 09:52 AM

Okay, I am going to go 50/50 on this one.

First, I agree, cruise line surveys in their current form are a joke. There is a saying that you can only manage what you can measure. They don't measure what they can manage -my expectations. Are my expectations reasonable or unreasonable? Have I watched too much Love Boat and expect a lot of intimate interaction with the senior staff? To be extreme, let's take the case of a couple who only do luxury cruises but agree to take part in a family cruise on a Carnival (to name a line) Mr. A thinks a Carnival cruise will be full of a buch of drunken animals while Mrs. A expects everything to be just like the luxury cruise line. Both passengers will have the same set of experiences but the expect ions on Mr. A will be exceeded while Mrs. A will be sorely disappointed.

And don't get me started on the point Mike made above about the CD and usually the maître d priming for high score, talk about skewing statistical validity.

Now to the point where I disagree. When a manager is not able to review a work product it may be necessary to ask others even some of those receiving service about their worker. In a cruise ship dining room this should not be necessary. There are several layers of management in place right in the work location. Other crew do not have as much direct supervision. Housekeeping managers may not be able to pop in to cabins to see how well stewards are doing their jobs. Likewise, many bar staffs are very small though management might be able to rove and do a decent evaluation.

That said, I think cruise lines do cast way to large of a net to do their surveys. If you opt out that is fine and dandy. The interesting thing is, as some cruise lines have shifted from paper on board surveys to on line surveys with a smaller sample size, I have seen some passengers complain if they did not receive a survey. Apparently they felt their voice was no longer being heard, that they were somehow less special.

storybookcruises.com November 24th, 2013 01:55 PM

I agree with everything Mike said!

Having been a manager for many years, we were required to be in constant contact with our employees so we know how they performed. We were also required to give them feedback on a regular basis so both they and we knew exactly where on that 1 to 5 scale they were performing. So when it came time for semi-annual counseling sessions and annual performance reviews, there were really no surprises. I always hated supervisors who never discussed anything with their employees during the entire year and then when the annual performance reviews came around, they would drop bombshells on unsuspecting employees.

The survey results do provide some feedback to management as to how the passengers feel the staff is performing. It may not be a perfect solution, but each employee does have a certain level of 'guest satisfaction' that they're required to meet. Let's say they are required to have at least a 90% satisfaction rating; if they meet or exceed that, then they are performing their job adequately, whereas if they fall below that, then there are problems that need to be addressed.

In this industry, at least for the most part, it's 100% service oriented and the feedback from the passengers is one way to help determine how well they are performing their jobs. But it should not be the only way. Keep in mind that most people expect good service and if they get it, they don't say anything. But if one thing goes wrong, then they complain. And of course as we all know, if one thing goes wrong, then some people will then start complaining about everything else.

As I use to say when I was a supervisor in a service-oriented industry that it's almost like we don't rate performance on positive feedback, because we never get any. But instead we have to rate performance based on the the lack of negative feedback. If we don't get any negative feedback, then we know they're doing a very good job.

Personally, I think it's important to give fair and honest feedback if the service was above or below what is expected. Of course, as was stated, expectation can be skewed based on a person's past experiences. While one person feels it exceed expectations, another will feel it fell below expectations.

But with all that said, I do know management reads and pays attention to the written comments passengers make. So, if you feel everything was fine, whether you submit the survey or not is fine. But if you feel there was something either above or below your satisfaction, then you should not hesitate to submit comments.

Pete

ralphj January 21st, 2014 03:27 PM

Surveys
 
I agree that the on-board surveys are nonsense, with the psychological as well as staff pressure to say everything is wonderful, but I like very much Celebrity's practice of e-mailing past passengers a second survey after they come home asking how they did
COMPARED TO YOUR PREVIOUS VOYAGE.

The cruise lines need to know if they cut corners and passengers are irritated or, conversely, if they invest in some aspect of the cruise experience, and passengers notice and appreciate it.

Bruce Chafkin1 February 9th, 2014 09:04 PM

Most of the major lines now have online surveys instead of the old paper ones.
There are many advantages to doing them online.
Perhaps the biggest advantage was unexpected.


Over the past decade or so, the cruise lines have been marketing to a demographic that is generally challenged to write in a manner that is legible and understandable. For many years now, we have had to discard about 50% of the written comments because we could not understand them.
Putting the forms online at least forces passengers to type their comments. Even though the grammar and spelling are still generally very embarrassing, we can at least now read the words, and hopefully guess what the passengers are trying to tell us.

thasic May 31st, 2014 01:36 AM

I am not offended by a survey but I also do not feel compelled to always fill the thing out. If I have the time and the inclination I may fill out such a survey but if not, such is life. I am sure the cruise line can manage to continue to sail without my not so humble opinions.


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