Should you be dealing with complaints at the restaurant or in the head office? Dealing with the problem at the right place in the right time can make a world of difference. The way a business deals with customer complaints says a lot about how serious they are about achieving their objectives.
How do you record customer feedback?
The manner in which customer feedback is recorded and complaints addressed makes a significant difference in the success or failure of a brand. Taking a systematic approach to feedback management and training members of the staff adequately is the key.
When it comes to handling complaints, you can do it in a business set-up or in the head office. While both approaches have proven to be effective, the time taken to address issues certainly differ.
Advantages of handling complaints in the restaurant
Why should you look at feedback in the restaurant? Timely management of customer feedback remains an area of concern for most businesses in the hospitality industry. A common reason is that feedback in restaurants can easily be worked upon and in a quicker time.
- With managers made aware about the issue, they can determine what exactly needs to be done quickly.
- An on-spot apology can work wonders and show the customer that you wish to deliver better services.
- Solutions can be offered without any delays.
- Ensures that customers walk out of the restaurant without any grudge.
Disadvantages of handling complaints in the restaurant
While the advantages are apparent, you cannot rely on handling customer grievance at the restaurant to be apt at all times.
- There are chances your manager might fail to understand the issue and act upon it.
- Issues can get worse if timely action isn’t taken.
- Staff members may try to hide critical issues so as to hide their flaws.
Another way by which businesses can handle complaints is by sending feedback to the head office. Here is a look at some of the pros and cons of this system.
Advantages of handling complaints in the head office
The other solution is to have customers approach the head office to address their grievances. The advantages are apparent.
- Systematic steps can be taken to know the root cause of the issue.
- It is possible to follow up with the customer and ask him for ways by which you could improve the business.
Disadvantages of handling complaints in the head office
In spite of the advantages, sending every feedback to the head office wouldn’t be the right thing. For one, there is always a time issue and simple problems that can be solved at the restaurant can be unnecessarily dragged on to the head office. With such a long procedure, customers can just end up feeling dissatisfied and prefer to speak about their experience to others than pursue their complaint.
- Failure to deal with the issues on the site might make customer lose interest.
- The system is a tad slower.
- By the time a possible solution to the issue is found out, the customer might have already shared his opinions on social media. Given the fact that things can go viral, your business might have to face severe consequences.
What is the best way to deal with customer feedback?
A systematic and well-constructed customer feedback management system implemented in the restaurant is always better. Depending on the nature of feedback, you could choose whether or not the issue is serious enough for you to approach the head office. Here is how it can be implemented:
- Members of staff and managers should be trained to handle complaints.
- Offer the best possible solutions in the shortest possible time frame.
- Information about serious issues should be passed on to the head office as early as possible.
- Head office needs to follow up and ensure customers are satisfied.
Customer feedback is the oil that keeps companies and business in working order, as with any machine, it requires proper care and maintenance. For you, that means responding to all customer feedback, both positive and negative and ensuring that you are providing your customers with an experience that is far superior to your competitors. In order to do so, you need to handle negative feedback appropriately.
Accept The Mistake
Mistakes happen, and there is very little we can do to prevent it. Humans can accidently mistype a number, computers may glitch over a sale item, it happens, nothing is perfect. However, when a customer or employee expresses a concern over a mistake, it is important to accept it. It would not be the client’s fault for a cashier or machine error, why try to blame them for purchasing your product?
Respond Quickly and Efficiently
Having a customer support team is essential for quick responses and making sure all the data that can be gathered can be. Your company should respond to all inquiries within 24 to 48 hours of receiving them. It may take time to resolve the problem, but ensure that you are doing as much as you can to provide the customer a feeling of importance. Many companies find that dedicating a particular agent to the ticket helps, that way there is no gap in communication.
Investigate The Issue
If an investigation was not conducted upon receiving the ticket, it is important to see where the problem happened, to prevent it in the future. Most companies will handle the customer first which will allow for a more thorough investigation of the issue. If you are opting to wait, be sure to keep the client posted on the progress.
Act On It
Once you have found the problem, act on it. Does a machine need to be replaced, is a database starting to fail? No matter what the situation is, once you have pinpointed the problem, take the appropriate action according to your company standards. At this point, it would be wise to send out personalized messages to the customers impacted by this failure. After all, they deserve a thank you for providing the negative feedback that helped to show a flaw in your system.
Bring Them Back
One of the most upsetting points of negative feedback is that occasionally a customer’s experience was so horrible; they turn their back to your brand. You can get these customers back if you follow the steps we have here. In fact, more than 70% of customers decide to give a brand a second chance based on how the company handled their complaints. That is a huge profit margin for a little bit of email correspondence!
Resolving customer issues and handling the negative feedback that came with it are crucial to maintaining the integrity of your brand. When a situation arises where you need to handle one customer, to hundreds, have a plan in place to handle it. The more prepared you are, the more you can learn from the situation. Mistakes happen, but don’t let that be the last impression your customers have of your company.
Once you have established that customer service is paramount to successfully running your service business, the obvious next step is to devise systems and procedures that can help you effectively learn, combat and manage customer grievances and any shortfalls in service levels from customer expectations.
This is a complex process, though not overly so, and can be succinctly summarised in the following points:
The very first step is to view each customer as a potential detractor, and thus being concerned about any untoward reviews from them. Studies have shown that a single negative review can offset 12 positive reviews. This puts an ever greater pressure on management and support staff to be actively involved with each and every customer, so that no customer leaves disgruntled. The caveat here is that being concerned alone won’t solve the problem, unless supplemented with the following actions.
Installing effective feedback tools
An effective listening to voice of customers would work only when effective tools to collect feedback are in place. While the definition of ‘efficiency’ in the context of feedback collection tools may be subjective, there are three things that any feedback collection mechanism must provide for it to be deemed worthy of consideration:
- Ability to capture vast amount of data – Only an innovative and unconventional feedback collection method will excite customers to leave their feedback.
- Ability to manage all collected data – A massive amount of data is meaningless if not stored in a format conducive to drawing business insights and trends of customer behaviour.
Ability to allow immediate addressal of customer grievances
As important as it is to store and record trends of customer behaviour, it is equally essential to solve service-related issues that customers may have, while they are still on-premises as this can eliminate the possibility of a customer venting their dissatisfaction online. A study has gone so far as to report that 82% of customers say that the most important factor leading to a great customer experience is having their issues resolved quickly.
Given that a manager’s focus is on effectively listening to his customers, a logical conclusion would be the installation of a strong and reliable feedback collection procedure.
Understanding your customers and their complaints
This is basically a continuation of the definition of an effective feedback collection system, but merits a separate mention. Immediate addressal of customer complaints becomes feasible only with a thorough knowledge of what the exact issue is and where the grievance has arisen from. Gaps in service quality can be plugged in only with an in-depth understanding of why and how the lapse in service occurred in the first place. Complete data capturing of customers can help in a more robust loyalty module allowing personalized service to regular patrons.
This points to the development of a process that naturally tends towards a “systematic listening” and address of customer grievances.
Empowering customer-concerned employees
With the installation of a sound feedback collection system, comes the added responsibility of delegating responsibilities appropriately to the front-line, customer facing staff members. Doing so will ensure that all customer grievances are handled in a timely and accurate fashion.
An effective feedback collection tool, should, therefore, provide a means for assigning tasks to staff members, particularly the customer-centric staff. It would be even better if this mechanism could work in real-time, thereby resolving customer complaints quickly and ensuring cent per cent customer satisfaction.
Overall monitoring of customer’s behaviour
With on-premise resolution of customer grievances taken care of, the real value of a customer feedback system can be extracted from its ability to track trends in customer satisfaction and behaviour over time.
Customers rate a business over several parameters – pricing, service quality, attitude of staff while interacting with customers to name a few. Their overall satisfaction of interacting with the business will then, not be limited to just the quality of service provided but will depend on a delicate balance of these parameters, based on what weight they assign to each of them. An important thing to note is that these preferences may change over time and vary across customer segments. In an effort to keep all customers equally satisfied over time, these changes must be carefully measured and appropriate actions taken.
An effective feedback system will allow business managers to understand their customers changing preferences and make business decisions in accordance with those changes. This will truly include the customer’s voice in implementing business strategies.
Getting involved personally
Last but certainly not the least, nothing makes a customer’s day more than the pleasure of having his issue resolved instantly, and that too with the knowledge that their servers took a “personal” interest in their service. Establishing a personal connection with customers is becoming a vitally important aspect of service-oriented businesses.
Therefore, merely assigning customer complaints to staff members may no longer help the business acquire and retain customers, but taking a “personal” interest in the resolution of their customer’s issues will. Since this personal connection will help the customers achieve a sense of belongingness with the business and there will then be a higher likelihood of them returning again and again.
An effective methodology to listen to customer’s voice, then, remains incomplete without a mechanism to getting involved personally with the customers.
Managing a business that does not sell tangible goods but intangible service can be tricky, but a task that can be accomplished if the basics are done right – listen to what the customers are saying, respond effectively and analyse their feedback to make sure things don’t go wrong again.