After reading this, you will be extremely well equipped to handle complaints in your venue. You are about to learn everything that you need to know so that you can put it into practice today.
It’s a fact that there will be people complaining, this is hospitality after all. With reviews becoming a prominent part of our industry, how YOU deal with these complaints is more important now than ever.
You can take someones bad experience and you can elevate it to a good experience just by handling their complaints in a great way.
The question is; How do you turn these bad experiences around and how to create a loyal customer from a potential train wreck?
Stick with us as we walk you through the 5 highly actionable steps to make you better at complaint handling.
Here’s an Overview; 1. IDENTIFY > 2. ACT > 3. SOLVE > 4. SHARE > 5. FOLLOW UP
1. IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM
Let the customer say everything they need to say. If they are interrupted, they may feel the need to start over. Nod to show you’re actively engaged in what they have to say and that you empathize with their predicament. Be attentive but relaxed. Look the customer in the eye as they speak.
Don’t contradict or argue with what the customer says. Even if they are wrong, informing them of their error will only exacerbate their frustration.
Do not minimize the customer’s complaint. Do not, for instance, say “Sometimes food is a little cold when it comes out, Or it is really busy and there are loads of people waiting … This will not make the customer happy.
Stay calm and show you’re concerned. Do not smile or laugh while listening to the customer’s complaint. Adopt a solicitous, concerned facial expression. This will make the customer feel as if you are truly concerned about what they have to say.
2. ACTING ON THE PROBLEM
Apologise to the customer. An apology is an acknowledgement that you made a mistake. Tell the customer, “I am so sorry for the error.” This will make the customer more inclined to forgive you and our venue. Always act sincere when apologising, even if there is no real reason for you to apologise. It will make the customer feel better.
Many customers appreciate an explanation, but do not appreciate excuses. For example, if there has been a mix up with a booking down to the sales team, it’s fine to explain there has been a mistake with the booking however not to pass the blame on to the sales team. Maintain a sense of personal responsibility even if the problem is not your fault, and avoid excusing yourself or anyone else.
ACT QUICKLY. When a customer has a complaint, no matter how serious, correcting it should take priority over anything else. If a customer is waiting to order and another customer has a complaint, the customer with the complaint should be helped first. Only after their complaint has been heard and an apology issued should the other customer’s order be taken.
If it is not possible to resolve the customer’s complaint in a way which satisfies them quickly or within
the time they have finished their experience within our venue, get their contact info so that they can be contacted later with a solution.
3. SOLVE THE PROBLEM
Solutions take a variety of forms, each dependent on the specific situation. Thinking about the customers mood, the customers problem and the options available to you to solve it will dictate your course of action. Ask the customer what they’d like to happen to rectify the situation. Consult with your manager or co-workers in order to determine how to move forward, if the customers request can be honoured, then do so. Otherwise, use the information that you received from your manager in order to propose an alternative to the customer.
Think about how irate the customer is. If they are extremely irritated and angry, you should go above and beyond to ensure they are satisfied. You should always consult with your manager before trying to resolve a complaint if you do not have the authority to discount or give things free of charge. Plus that manager will want to know what the complaint is about just so that they can ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Which brings us on to…
4. SHARE THE COMPLAINT INFORMATION
For instance, if the customer says that the pizza was cold, you should inform the chef. While it is important for you to apologise and offer something else to the customer who as complained, by informing the chef we are making sure that the correct measures are taken for this to not happen again.
Speaking with your co-workers is also important to ensure repeat cases of bad service don’t happen. For example if a customer has received really bad customer service by informing your teammates about the issue everyone knows to keep an extra eye on the customer who as already made a complaint.
5. FOLLOW UP
This is the step most missed by service staff.
After reaching a resolution, follow up afterwards with the customer to ensure that the issue was resolved to their satisfaction.
This small step is essential to verify that the issue is truly resolved, and often makes a HUGE difference to how the customer feels about how their issue was addressed.
This small step is worth the extra effort, and can often lead to repeat business and a loyal customer who will recommend your business to others.
BEST WAY TO NEVER FORGET…
1. IDENTIFY > 2. ACT > 3. SOLVE > 4. SHARE > 5. FOLLOW UP
IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY (IN) SAN FRANCISCO
Your job as service staff is to make the venue as hospitable as possible, these people who come to you are your guests.
Make them leave thinking great things about you and the venue you represent
Let us know in the comments how this is going for you? Have you had any particularly difficult situations? Have you tried all these steps and it didn’t work?