By Karen Appold
Customer feedback can be invaluable for many reasons. So how can you get your customers to comment honestly on their experiences?
The best way to solicit honest feedback is to engage directly with customers immediately following their laser tag game, said Jeff Willy, owner, Loveland Laser Tag, Loveland, Colo. Marshals are trained to greet guests as they exit the arena and ask them about their experience. “This way, we receive feedback while it’s fresh on people’s minds,” he said. “Our managers also make sure to visit guests’ tables in the lobby and chat with them.”
The laser tag center has also had good success by emailing a brief survey to customers one to three days after their visit. “We do this for people who purchase passes from our online store and players who sign up for laser tag memberships and events,” Willy said. “For events, we send guests photos we took at their party in the same email. This improves response rates, because it’s not just an email asking them to provide feedback—it’s giving them something cool at the same time. We phrase survey questions in a way that encourages honest feedback and doesn’t push the guest into a positive response.”
James Bailey, general manager and operating partner, Arena 51 Laser Tag, Middleburg Heights, Ohio, said emailing guests a few survey questions several days after attending a party there works best for his center. “I think people are more apt to be honest in an email, compared to on the phone or in person,” he said. “People don’t like to hurt other people’s feelings.”
Questions ask if the facility was clean, if the host or hostess performed well, if they were given two-for-one coupons (which are handed out to birthday party attendees to use at a later date) and if they would recommend the facility to family and friends. Bailey said the last question is perhaps the most important one because word of mouth can be very powerful.
The center rarely solicits feedback from guests other than party-goers. But if someone mentions that they had a good experience, the staff member might ask them to leave a good review on Facebook or on its Google business page.
For Megan Marsella, owner, BattlegroundZ, Lincoln, R.I., asks parents for feedback when they come to the front counter to settle their balance after a party. “Parents are very willing to talk about the experience,” she said. “This is also true with walk-in customers. We make every attempt to ask players as they leave if they had a fun time.”
Using Google to send a notification to a customer’s cell phone and asking them to rate the center also works well, Marsella said. The center receives about 10 reviews with this method per week.
Colleen Wyatt, marketing manager, Hinkle Family Fun Center, Albuquerque, N.M., said the center used to use comment cards and online surveys, but they weren’t garnering many responses. Now it prints a validation code on receipts, so customers can go the center’s website and take a survey. “This is gaining traction because we have trained staff members to point it out to guests,” she said. Guests are also incentivized to take the survey because they get to participate in one of its 11 attractions for free if they complete the survey.
Using Feedback to Improve Experiences
Willy said staff members review all survey responses, online reviews and verbal feedback regularly as a team. “In some cases, customer feedback points out an area where we didn’t follow our own processes, so we will provide additional training as needed to correct the situation in the future,” he said. In other cases, feedback has provided great ideas on how to make the laser tag experience better. In one instance, some players expressed an interest in playing special laser tag game types on weekends. Up to that point, they were only offered on slower weeknights. The customer feedback was passed on to the research and development team at Laserforce and the equipment manufacturer, who developed a new casual-friendly game type that now runs on Saturdays.
If the center receives negative feedback, such as a host delivered a cold pizza, Bailey will tell the party’s host. “We use feedback for continual training,” he said. “If someone complains, we will work to improve service.”
By using customer feedback, Marsella said it’s easy to measure if employees treat customers the way we want them to be treated, if game instructions are clearly explained and understood, if games are running quickly – eliminating wait times – and most of all if customers are enjoying their experience. Last year, they had to explain the location of bases repeatedly. This prompted them to create a map of the arena to point them out to players during game instruction, which has worked well.
If someone demands that you pay for their entire day pass because they had a bad experience, hopefully by listening and offering compassion you can make them happy by offering one free attraction instead of giving away the bank, Wyatt said.
Loveland Laser Tag has about 80,000 annual visits, which is up year-over-year. “I think this is due to our continual improvement model,” Willy said. “We are constantly adding new amenities and attractions, introducing new menu items and keeping the guest experience fresh. We also have a reputation for delivering good customer service, which our online reviews can attest to. A strong economy certainly doesn’t hurt, either!”
Arena 51 Laser Tag had more than 100,000 players in the last year. That number is down about 15 percent, which Bailey attributes to more competition in the area.
Approximately 20,000 guests played about 78,000 games last year at BattlegroundZ. This number is up from previous years, which Marsella attributed to the center relocating 18 months ago to a much bigger and newer custom-made facility, which is more welcoming and fun.
Attendance at Hinkle Family Fun Center has stayed around 175,000 for the past few years. Wyatt said this is the case because the center changed its pricing structure while adding greater value.