Style Guidelines

The following is a short list of important client requests that clients insist you follow in your narrative. Submissions that do not follow these client requests may be returned to the evaluator for editing. The best opportunities go to reviewers who follow a client’s special requests.


When To Use Quotes In Your Feedback

If you can remember it, quote:

  • The first three to four words the staff member says to you
  • The last three to four words that staff member says to you

Do not use quotes any other time in your feedback unless it was memorable and significant.

Caution: Your feedback will be brought to scrutiny and may be sent back to you if you quote too much or submit long quotes. It simply is not credible that an evaluator could quote more than small bits of a conversation.

Note: The use of recording devices is illegal in certain areas and is not recommended.

Punctuating Quotes

Grammar Reminders Example
1. Punctuation (periods, commas, question marks) always goes inside the quotation marks. Tom said, “I hope you enjoyed your stay.”
2. Quotes within a sentence are preceded by a comma. Tom said, “I hope you enjoyed your stay,” with enthusiasm.
3. Do not quote yourself. Tom asked, “How did you enjoy your stay?” I told him that the stay had been good.


Quotes are important in demonstrating how a staff member communicated with you, but you must be 100% accurate. It is much better to paraphrase a few words you are sure about than taking a stab at a long quote.

For instance:

When I collected my coat, Tom thanked me and told me to, “Get home safely.” 

Greetings and Salutations

The staff member’s opening and closing quotes are important, so please tune your ear and take note of how staff members greet you, and remember what they said when the interaction came to a close.

Also, the tone with which those greetings and salutations were given is important.

Poor Feedback Good Feedback
Tom greeted me pleasantly when I arrived at the spa desk. Tom smiled and greeted me politely with, “Hello,” when I arrived at the spa desk.
Tom thanked me as he hung up the phone. Tom said, “Thanks,” in a positive tone as he hung up the phone.
Tom thanked me by name when I returned the check. Tom said, “Thank you Mr. [last name],” when I returned the check.

Eyes, Teeth and Tone

When staff members interact with you, always note whether the staff members were making eye contact (EYES), smiling (TEETH), and what their tone of voice was (TONE). This is important both during greetings and when interactions come to an end.

  1. As I approached the spa desk, Tom smiled, made eye contact with me, and said, “Good morning,” in a cheerful tone
  2. Tom answered the phone after three rings with, “Good morning. This is Tom.” His tone of voice was flat and businesslike.
  3. Clarence was already looking away when he said goodbye to me.
  4. During the reservation call, Connie’s tone of voice brightened only when I asked about the wine selection available at the restaurant. Otherwise, her tone was professional and even.
  5. After the initial greeting, Tom made little eye contact with us during the interaction; he was mostly looking at the computer. While his demeanor remained professional, he did not smile.

Names and Descriptions

Staff members’ names can be gathered from nametags, business cards, checks or overheard during the course of an evaluation. Be sure to indicate how you learned a staff member’s name when you first reference it. Do not ask staff members for their names, as that will give you away. If you must, do it at the very end of the interaction.

Referencing Names

Once you learn a staff member’s name, use it instead of generic monikers like server or bartender. Likewise, if you learn a staff member’s name at the end of the interaction, reference it, and use it, starting at the beginning.


The female staff member, who identified herself as Aphrodite at the end of the call, answered the call on the second ring with, “Reservations, may I help you?” I said that I needed to make a reservation, and Aphrodite said she could help me with that.


If you are not aware of a staff member’s name, please provide a description using the following format: (Gender – height, hair style/color, outstanding characteristics).


•  (Male – 6’0″, buzzed black hair, tattoo on neck)
•  (Female – 5’8″, black hair in low ponytail)
•  (Male – 5’6″, nearly shaved head, glasses)

Staff Labels

When describing multiple staff members for whom you have no names, refer to them by their position, assign them a number, and describe them. Refer to them by their position and number thereafter.


My guest and I approached the podium and saw two staff members in attendance: host #1 (Female – 5’8″, blond bobbed hair, glasses) and host #2 (Female – 5’10”, long straight brown hair). Host #1 politely greeted us with, “Hello folks,” while host #2 looked at us and smiled. I told host #1 that we wanted to sit outside. Host #2 stepped from behind the podium and said, “Right this way,” in a friendly tone.

Subjectivity and Tone

Clients use evaluators’ feedback to coach employees and improve service. Therefore, the feedback must be:

  • Detailed
  • Objective
  • Fully-supported

It is true that your opinion does matter, but it is secondary to the facts of what happened. Your value as an evaluator, first and foremost, is that of a reporter. You are there to interact, observe and provide feedback. If your feedback relies too heavily on point of view, emotion or what you perceive as wrong or right, your credibility will be undermined, and your feedback becomes compromised.

Your opinion is valuable, but it should be at the end of the interaction in a separate paragraph.The  comments should add new information and is a perspective that you feel needs to be shared. It should also be constructive–something that the client can do something about.

Have you ever had a performance evaluation at work? How would you feel if your boss said that you were too casual or seemed bored with how you approached your duties?

If you cared about your job, you would welcome the criticism, but you would want specific examples presented to you thoughtfully and objectively, so that you could improve your performance.


Poor Feedback Good Feedback
I approached Tom at 3:00 PM, and he made eye contact and casually greeted me with, “Hello.” He seemed bored. I asked Tom about the location of the nearest ATM, and he did not seem to care as he pointed out the front door and said there was an ATM two blocks away on Megan Street. I thanked him, and Tom let go a sigh and said, “Uh huh.” I approached Tom at 3:00 PM, and he made eye contact and greeted me with, “Hello.” His tone of voice was flat, and he did not smile. I asked Tom about the location of the nearest ATM. He pointed out the front door and said there was an ATM two blocks away, on Megan Street. I thanked him, and Tom said, “Uh huh,” as he was looking back at the computer.Subjective Evaluator Comments:
Tom came across as though he was bored. He pointed out the door, and his closing was in the form of a sigh. It seemed like he wanted to do only what was the minimum required of him.

The ‘Good Feedback’ paragraph supplies evidence. It uses facts about Eyes, Teeth, and Tone to tell the reader what happened. This is objective feedback. The guest perspective is saved in a ‘wrap-up’ or summary paragraph at the end of the section and is subjective feedback.

Telephone Interactions

Clients want the following to be recorded for every interaction that happens over the phone:

  • Exact time of day you called.
  • The number or extension that you called.*
  • The greeting given by the staff member.
  • The staff member’s tone of voice during the greeting.
  • Tone of voice throughout the call.
  • The salutation given to close the call.

*If you dial from a hotel room and use a pre-programmed button, please indicate this in the following manner:

I called room service by using the pre-programmed button on the guestroom phone…

Note: Phone calls go very fast. Take notes immediately.

Format Points

Item Recommendation Good Bad
Tense Provide feedback in past tense. The server was friendly. The server is friendly.
We vs. I Provide feedback in first person. Use ‘my guest and I’ when applicable. My guest and I asked for a refill. We asked for a refill.
Dates Spell out the day and month. Thursday, January 1, 2015 1/1/15
Numbers Spell out numbers under ten. One, two , three, nine, ten 1, 2, 3, 9, 10
Hyphens Use hyphens for 21 and above when that begin a sentence; use ordinals otherwise. Twenty-one minutes later, Tom called. 21 minutes later, Tom called.
Contractions Do not use contractions. Will not, cannot, I would Won’t, can’t, I’d
Exclamation Marks Avoid using exclamation marks.  The server smiled at us. The server said, “Goodnight,” in an upbeat tone. The server smiled at us! The server said, “Goodnight!”
Avoid Emphasis Avoid emphatic adjectives. Very, never, always, finally
Capitalization Do not capitalize staff member positions. manager, server, bartender Manager, Server, Bartender
Capitalization Do not capitalize the names of food or drinks within the narrative, except when a proper name or location is invoked. french fries, pepperoni pizza French Fries, Pepperoni Pizza
AM / PM Use capital AM and PM, no periods. 10:00 AM, 11:15 PM 10:00 a.m , 11:15 pm
Phone Numbers Provide area codes without parentheses. 212-629-2083 (212) 629-2083
Staff Descriptions Describe staff in parentheses, using the following format: (Gender – height, hair style/ color, outstanding characteristics) (Male – 6’0″, buzzed black hair, tattoo on neck)  (M-very tall, skinny, Asian, good looking)
Eye Contact, Teeth, Tone (ETT) ETT should be included for every opening and closing interaction. Teeth refers to whether the staff member is smiling. Mandy made eye contact, smiled, and said, “Hello,” in a friendly tone of voice. Mandy said, “Hello.”
Kitchen Separately describe each dish ordered/sampled and comment on the portion size, temperature, visual appeal and meeting expectations.
Checklist Conventions Provide comments  for all standards scored ‘No’ or ‘N/A’ in the checklist (unless the whole section is N/A’ed, in which case everything should be left blank). Limit comments to three to five words.
Pre-programmed phone buttons Indicate exactly what key you pressed. Pre-programmed button for wake-up calls; pressed “zero” Hot key, room service button, the operator

Common Pitfalls

Item Recommendation
Hanging/Dependent Interaction If a future action is expected or promised, make sure you remember to follow-up in the client deliverable you submit. For instance, if the staff member promises to do something for you, please report if that action was indeed completed.
“Generalization Bombs” Do not begin interactions or insert generalizations that draw conclusions. For instance, never begin a paragraph stating, “The service was good,” or that, “Jennifer was an excellent server.” Let the reader conclude this after they have read all the evidence you have provided. If your feedback contains generalizations, you may be asked to remove them and replace them with evidence.
Emphasis It is at times difficult to maintain a professional tone, especially if service was particularly poor and you felt slighted or wronged. If you receive poor service, do not sugarcoat it or gloss it in any way. Tell it like it is, but do not get emotional. The fact that you were upset about the rude service of the desk staff is MUCH less important than detailing the events or demeanor that made the service poor. Bad things can happen on evaluations – that is the nature of the beast in evaluating. Remember, you are an evaluator. The reason you are there is because the client wants to know how great or how bad the service really is. If you wish to get your point across about how bad the service was, you have to be factual and provide evidence.
Comparisons Do not compare staff members to each other or compare the restaurant to other similar properties.
Itemized Check Make sure you get the itemized check. If you do not get it back with your credit card, ask for it.
ID the Manager For restaurants, clearly identify a manager.
Alcohol Be sure to review the client’s authorization for ordering alcohol. Overconsumption of alcohol may be grounds for the rejection of your client deliverable.
Detail Be sure to review the sample documents online in order to familiarize yourself with the standard level of detail.
Objectives The client objectives are provided  by the client and must be accomplished in order for the evaluation to be considered complete.
Eyes, Teeth, and Tone ETT should be included for every opening and closing interaction.
Staff Descriptions All staff members referenced in the feedback should be fully described.
Kitchen Be sure to comment on all of the dishes consumed during the evaluation.
Complete Feedback/Deliverable Make sure that you have completed all of the necessary sections, including the project invoice and summary page before submission of your client deliverable.