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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Westin St. John Resort & Villas Implements VOC Systems' Unique Mid-Experience Guest Feedback Technology to Ensure "Paradise" for Resort Guests


The Westin St. John Resort & Villas is set on the serene beach of Great Cruz Bay with 175 guest rooms and 46 fully equipped vacation villas. Guest satisfaction is paramount for the management team at the resort, which offers a variety of dining, entertainment and recreational venues across 47 acres.

With General Manager Mike Ryan at the helm, the resort has earned numerous awards, such as "Best Island Paradise 2013" and "Best Family Experience 2013" by Starwood Preferred Guests. In

his mission to continue delivering an award-winning vacation experience, Ryan and his team have implemented a unique, automated guest feedback solution from VOC Systems.

VOC Systems, or "Voice of the Customer" Systems, is a pioneer in the newly created area of mid-experience spoken comment reporting. The company's system helps globally branded hotels and resorts improve satisfaction, reduce problems, enhance supervisor effectiveness and coaching, and motivate employees. 

Guests as Quality Advisors

VOC Systems' unique service, dubbed ExpressWayTM systematically collects, processes and reports guest comments during their stay (before surveys and social media). It does this in an unobtrusive way; one that is fast, simple to use and empowering (even fun!) for guests.

From the moment of arrival, guests are exposed to brand-friendly messages from the general manager encouraging their participation as "quality advisors" during the stay, simply by calling a local extension and leaving a free-form voicemail at a time of their choosing. Guest comments are guided by three questions: "What are we doing right?" "Which employees are providing outstanding service?" and "What can we improve?" These three questions elicit responses regarding any topic of importance to them, across every business function, and every level of responsibility.

Once recorded, the message is converted to text, categorized and distributed via email with audio links to the GM and management team-minutes after the guest hangs up. Management is then able to forward the email to relevant departments to prioritize and address problems, or immediately recognize employees delivering outstanding service. Department heads and managers at the resort carry smart phones, so they have access to guest comments 24/7.

In addition to instant emails, senior managers have the ability to view an online database of their property's coded guest comments, one that delivers summary-to-detail graphs and text reports, along with sophisticated search capability.

It was this data and trend reporting capability that piqued Ryan's interest in the technology. "The ability to see and hear exactly what our guests are suggesting, critiquing and praising allows us to better serve current and future guests at our resort," says Ryan, a Starwood trained Six Sigma Black Belt. "By using VOC Systems to perform searches and track trends in frequently mentioned common issues, we can quickly prioritize training or other resources for maximum effect. And because the guest information is both immediate and rich in detail, we can anticipate guest requests so individual needs can be accommodated, often with a delighted guest response."

Ryan shares an example: "One particular family who recently stayed with us shared a positive message about the excellent service they received, especially during one of their children's birthdays. Having learned the family was celebrating a birthday through the VOC message, our staff was able to personally extend special birthday wishes to the child throughout the remainder of the stay."

"This is a very typical scenario demonstrating how we are able to use VOC Systems, especially with our families," Ryan says. "Unlike surveys, the technology allows us to act immediately on valuable insights which helps us create and strengthen relationships with guests for a more personalized experience."
  
Employee Engagement

VOC Systems offers employees the opportunity to hear feedback directly from guests, in real-time, and in their own voices. 

Ryan says, "VOC Systems has reinforced to our staff that guests really do pay attention to their service and their attitudes. Our employees are truly empowered by this, knowing that they have the ability and opportunity to immediately impact the guest experience with memorable service."

"In fact," Ryan continues, "the employees are so motivated that they encourage guests to share their experiences and leave comments. Knowing the guests are really paying attention and providing continuous and immediate feedback-while they are still here with us on property-has made our already exemplary team that much more serious about guest satisfaction. It has undoubtedly energized the service culture at the resort."

Ryan addresses VOC Systems' reports in daily department meetings, where feedback is continuously shared. The resort even posted a TV monitor in the employee associate cafĂ©, where rolling quotes from the VOC comments are displayed, along with the associates' names and the comment. Ryan says that this way, not only does the individual employee see it, but so do their colleagues, making it a great motivational tool. 
  
"We're delighted The Westin St. John Resort & Villas is using VOC Systems in unique and intelligent ways to lift ratings and overall staff efficiency," says Brad Kesel, VOC Systems' CEO. "Management is creatively leveraging trends and data from our reporting feature to proactively serve their guests. And employees in all functional areas are engaged and focused on continuously improving the guest experience." Ryan concludes, "VOC Systems has given us the ability to collect and communicate valuable guest insights, allowing us to anticipate needs and bring service to new levels. The surprise in many of our guests' voices when we call to let them know their comments were not only heard but acted on is extremely powerful, and never ceases to amaze me."