Prior to my enrollment in this course, I hadn’t deeply considered the methods through which the consumer experience could be evaluated. Even once I had begun to think about it, I could only come up with the three most traditional methods that I had been exposed to – surveys, focus groups and review websites. I have participated in or completed all three, making me familiar with their respective flaws. Some include brevity of response (if a response at all), group bias, extreme replies and forgetfulness due to too great a gap in time between experience and response. In addition to these issues, an overarching problem with the three methods mentioned is the reliance on subjective information. When making data-driven decisions, it is important that objective material also be considered. Thus, my greatest takeaway from this class was my introduction to three new methodologies for measuring customer experience: participant observation (specifically mystery shop evaluation), social media monitoring and the importance performance analysis. The three are integrated and in my opinion, effectively communicate conditions and common trends of hotels, restaurants and attractions in an objective matter.
2. Experiences Are Emotional
The above considered, I also learned that experiences are undeniably emotional. Though data can point to emerging themes amongst hotels, restaurants and attractions, the emotional journey that one undertakes throughout any of these experiences cannot be ignored. Thus, an additional method that became important was the critical incident technique. This technique provided the framework that guided the in-person interviews that we conducted at each of the sites that were being evaluated throughout our itinerary. These interviews were useful as they allowed us to quickly identify where organizations excelled versus where they could improve based on patron experiences. This technique also made it easier for us to approach our target market, international travelers, instead of sorting through responses from local and non-local visitors on social media sites like TripAdvisor.
3. Taking a Step Back
Although I mentioned that the three data-driven methodologies were my greatest takeaways from the course, I also realized the importance of taking a step back and reviewing the bigger picture. Our group distinguished at least 5 major components and nearly 200 subcomponents for each experience had, resulting in a huge set of data. Thus, we often allocated a great deal of time to trying to find ties between data produced by different methods, detracting from our overall sentiments from each experience. In future reports and projects with similar deliverables, I hope to utilize the four methodologies mentioned above to populate objective and subjective data to then guide my broader-scale recommendations.