See some tips below on how to deal with customer complaints effectively
The saying, “the customer is always right”, is the mantra restaurant professionals live by. No matter what the complaint, or sometimes downright outburst is about, the score will always be Customer = 1, Restaurant = 0. Learning how to handle these situations, however, will help you even the score and prevent the disgruntled guest from telling all their social media followers how terrible your restaurant’s service is.
The main goal when a situation arises is making sure the customer knows that you value their comments and that the incident is not a regular occurrence at your restaurant. Their dining experience that day might not be what they expected, but the way their complaint is handled will influence whether they will visit again. See some tips below on how to deal with customer complaints effectively.
Listen to Your Customer’s Complaints
To improve customer service, The Balance Small Business suggests listening to your diner’s complaints no matter how ridiculous they may be. Some people cannot be satisfied no matter how hard you try. The issue may be as minor as the person seated at the table next to them is talking too loudly, or their soup was so hot it burned the roof of their mouth. Even if you can’t fix the problem, hear them out fully, showing that their feedback is very important to you. You don’t necessarily have to have a solution to make things better, just show them that you care, and they are being heard.
Be Empathetic Towards the Customer
Remember that time you were having a bad day and the next person you spoke to you regrettably took out your anger on them? Your customers are people too and any inconvenience can be irritating. The best thing to do is understand their frustration and let them know that you are working on a solution.
Don’t Challenge the Complaint
The worst thing you can do is argue with your customer. Remember, the customer is always right, so telling them that they are wrong will only exacerbate the situation. Forbes stresses another old saying, “kill them with kindness” is the best approach. Repeatedly reassure your customer that you are on their side and that you appreciate them telling you about their concern.
Oftentimes, the best route is to apologize with some sort of compensation. When a customer has a problem that could have been prevented, such as a burnt meal, the food taking abnormally long to arrive, or a drink spilled on their lap, offering freebies are a necessary for damage control. Presenting them with a free dessert, a restaurant gift card to welcome them back, or taking a percentage off their meal are common offerings that usually appease customers. The extent of the gift should correspond with the magnitude of the problem the customer experienced.
No business is run perfectly all the time. Every now and then there are mishaps that may make a customer question coming back. After you have listened to the customer and taken all measurable steps to rectify the situation, don’t dwell on one singular incident. If customer complaints become frequent, then that is when they need addressing. If not, move on and hope that the customer will give you another chance to impress them.
It is important that you try to provide every customer that enters your restaurant with a satisfying experience. Everything may not go as planned all the time, but the way you handle it makes all the difference.
About the Author: Courtney Ciandella has been the sole Marketing liason for Bielat Santore & Company since 2013. She is also the conductor behind the Who’s Who in the Restaurant Industry and Restaurant Tip of the Month series.