By Stu Leventhal
For every dining complainer there are tons who do not mention anything to you, yet walk away mad! Later, they share their bad experience with friends, family, tweet, Yelp, Trip Advisor, all hurting your business! You know deep down that you wish you had a chance to repair your relationship with the mad silent type. Most of the time you never even knew there was a problem! So, when you are approached or waved over by an obviously irritated patron, instead of becoming defensive and immediately circling the wagons with that ‘I got to cover my butt here’, attitude, embrace the moment as the rare opportunity it is, free solid advice that will help you improve service and products. Is that not how we grow our bottom line?
An angry customer is the best source of advice there is. Caught up in their emotions of the situation they show their true and honest feelings. You need to figure out how to interpret that free info so you can put it to use towards positive growth and development. Too often we rush to calm the person down, trying to save ourselves and our organization embarrassment instead of stopping and really listening and asking clarifying questions so we really understand the gripe.
The key is to change your attitude from, “Uh oh, here comes trouble!” to realizing that complainers are doing you the greatest service ever, one which many restaurants pay hefty fees to duplicate with less success. Think about the mucho popular secret shopper visits, where a restaurant pays an outsourced contractor to dine at their place of biz then report and grade their experience. These paid to review you diners are professionals who must right up a detailed report and thus they are bias. A true mad patron is acting on pure instinct and emotion they are not practiced on how to rate a restaurant and this makes their input way more valuable. Many restaurants are also spending lots of money using social media to get feedback on how they and their staffs are doing. Frequently, to get people to respond to surveys and questionnaires an incentive is given like a redeemable discount or coupon. This also taints the survey results.
If you want to figure out the real direction you and your organization needs to move to better the customer experience you need to make it easier for your customers to complain and stop shying away from confrontation with difficult customers. Better Communication with your customers is the answer for how to figure out prioritizing your company’s improvement steps. It is the key to crushing your competitors and become known as the best in the biz!
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