Summertime… and the living is easy.

Or at least it should be, right?

No matter the kind of summer you’re planning, you want all of your dreams to come true. Whether it’s hiking through your favorite national park, visiting historic sites, riding roller coasters with the kids, or just treating yourself to a fun night out on the town, everything should be just as you imagine it.

And what will you do if it isn’t, exactly?

We’ve all – unfortunately – seen what can happen when holiday hopes and dreams are crushed. Picture this:

After a long, hot drive to a holiday resort, you’re ready to enjoy your precious week off. Unfortunately, you find that the room you booked months in advance has been given away. Disappointed, to say the least, you:

  1. Act out the Seinfeld routine about taking reservations versus holding reservations
  2. Throw a tantrum with all of the yelling and throwing things you can manage
  3. Shout “Fine, I’ll sleep in a closet.” and stomp off down the hall to find one
  4. Drive away immediately and badmouth the place across social media
  5. Provide feedback to the management through real-time collection tool

Sarcasm and cathartic satisfaction aside, which of these methods might actually make a difference in the long-term improvement of this resort?

As a customer, who cares! You’re totally free to do what you want to do. Blow off steam! It’s your party and you can cry if you want to.

As a business owner, you need to seriously consider how you’re collecting feedback from your customers. Are you setting yourself up for success or failure? Rather than ensuring that everything goes perfectly all the time — good luck! — plan for what should happen when it doesn’t. All across the summer landscape you’ll see feedback systems set up, bracing for all the opinions and experiences that summer will bring. Dropping a card in a box, giving exit feedback on a kiosk, or filling out a post-visit survey all provide the information you need to improve the experience for your future customers.

Whether it’s a quick NPS-style question or something a bit more in-depth, there’s only one way to find out what you need to know. Once you collect the feedback, make sure you act on it as needed. When customers see their feedback has made a difference, you’ll build customer loyalty and earn repeat visitors. In an article on customer service/experience trends for 2017, Forbes cites Forrester’s finding that 72% of businesses say that improving the customer experience is their top priority. Nice. But if you prefer the other side of the coin, see a New Voice Media finding that companies lose more than $62 billion annually due to bad customer experiences.

If you can make sure the sun always shines, the lines are always short, and the reservations are always held, by all means put your feet up. If you live in reality, make sure you’re getting the real picture in real time and keeping those summer dreams from turning into nightmares.