Turning Customer Feedback into a Labor Day Message

The CEO of Marriott International turned positive customer feedback into a Labor Day message to Congress.

The CEO of Marriott International turned positive customer feedback into a Labor Day message to Congress.

Customer feedback is a ready, often fulsome source of content. The CEO of Marriott International turned some positive feedback into a brand-embellishing blog that also delivered a powerful message on Labor Day.

Arne Sorenson reviews lots of customer feedback, much of it critical. “I’m fine with that,” he writes. “An important part of our culture is believing that success is never final, so we learn from customer feedback.” It turns out there also are lessons to learn from positive customer feedback.

Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International, turned a customer feedback email into a powerful message about immigration.

Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International, turned a customer feedback email into a powerful message about immigration.

When Sorenson opened one email, what he read was a heap of praise for one of his employees named Ismeta. He says the email wasn’t the first one he received praising Ismeta, who has worked at Marriott properties in the Chicago area.

The email said, “She truly is a lovely, lovely person with a rare quality for being able to connect with people in such a way that brings out the best in all of us and making you feel so welcome.” Sorenson said she was previously praised for “her cheerful attitude” and “demonstrating Marriott’s spirit to serve.” One fan suggested Marriott should feature Ismeta in a “training video on how to treat guests.”

Good stuff and a smart move by Sorenson to share customer kudos for Ismeta. But he did more.

“At a time when the debate in Washington is focused on building walls and reducing legal immigration, my thoughts turn to Ismeta,” Sorenson reflected. “Our economy and our society benefit from immigration done right.”

Ismeta left Bosnia almost 20 years ago after losing family members in a brutal war, Sorenson said. “Picking up the pieces, she made her way to Germany and then to Chicago.”

He continued, “Ismeta’s life is now an American story, an expression of this country’s ability provide opportunity to those willing to embrace it. She is making the experiences of our guests better, she is making Marriott better and she is making our country better. And I can’t think of better feedback than that.”

Sorenson sent his message to Washington, DC. “The conversation on immigration seems to be one of extremes,” he wrote. “We need to make sure our borders are secured as well as our airports, but we also must recognize that immigration is essential to numerous industries – including hospitality – and that so many immigrants are contributing to the greater good of our country, just as millions of immigrants have before them, my family and like yours included.”

Not bad for email with the subject line: Customer Feedback. Read your customer feedback and contemplate what it tells you, and what you can share about it with others. You may discover a surprising source of uplifting content.