When Good Means Failing: Resisting Corporate Satisfaction Surveys

This morning before checking out of our hotel, I noticed a letter on the desk in the room. The letter, written by the local hotel’s General Manager, mentioned that we might be receiving a satisfaction survey from corporate Best Western by email within a few weeks.

The letter encouraged us to be sure and be “extremely satisfied” with our stay. In fact, if we weren’t extremely satisfied, the letter entreated us to contact the general manager directly by email or telephone about anything.

The letter was clearly an attempt to deal with the corporate discipline of the consumer satisfaction survey by attempting to define the terms for us before the corporation did. Interestingly, it revealed why this was important: being “extremely satisfied” was the expected condition for meeting guests needs in a professional matter, while being simply “good” was basically a failing score.

In other words, in the world of Best Western’s corporate survey, awesome was average and good was for failures. Upon reading this I realized it was basically corporate grade inflation–but with big consequences for simply being good.

I tried to imagine what hotel experience I would describe as being extremely satisfied–and the silliness of expecting such a condition from an average travel hotel. I also felt for the general manager, struggling valiantly to intercede between the hegemony of corporate survey bullshit and simply doing a good job for his or her guests.

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