Anyone who’s in the hospitality industry needs to pay close attention, as this week on the Htet Tayza blog, I let you know how to handle customer complaints effectively.
Customer Complaints Can Sink Even the Most Successful Hospitality Venture
Customer complaints are the anathema of any successful hospitality venture. Let me be clear, customer complaints are bad in any industry. They have the potential to fan the flames of disloyalty among your customer base, especially if the disgruntled consumer takes to broadcasting their grievance to millions of people on Twitter.
However, they’re especially damaging for those of you in the field of hospitality. Through my work as co-owner of the Escape Gastro Bar, I have learned one core fact. Hospitality is experience driven; it depends entirely on customer good will for its revenue.
Therefore, if a disgruntled customer complains because they had an unfavourable experience, it suggests that other people would be in for the same experience if they frequented your establishment. Broadcast on a site like Twitter, that suggestion has the power to deplete your profit margins.
A Guide to Handling Customer Complaints
However, it’s entirely possible to neutralise a customer complaint before it goes nuclear. I would suggest that to do so, you ty the following five tips when dealing with a disgruntled customer…
- Be Polite: When the customer is making the complaint, they are angry enough. You don’t need to fan the flames of their indignation by treating them rudely, and suggesting you don’t value their custom. Always be polite, no matter how worked up the customer is getting.
- Don’t Pander: That old idea of ‘the customer is always right,’ is nothing more than a myth. When the customer is wrong, they are wrong, and you shouldn’t pander to them, as it could only reflect badly on you in the long run. If the customer is mistaken, call them up on it, but do so gently so you can reason with them, explain your viewpoint, and avoid any escalation of the situation.
- Avoid Untenable Situations: There will be some situations that you don’t have either the knowledge or the skillset to deal with. You shouldn’t try, as blundering on when you clearly don’t know what you’re talking about will only make things worse. Instead, call in someone above you to deal with the matter at hand.
- Make Sure to Listen: It’s critical that you actually listen to what the customer is saying when they’re complaining. If you don’t, not only will be unable to handle said complaint, the customer will walk away feeling as though their grievance has been unheard, and might just take to Facebook to find a willing ear.
- Satisfy the Customer: The most important part of dealing with any customer complaint, is to find a way to mollify them; whether that be with a refund, a replacement product, a free treatment etc. Make sure they don’t walk away feeling like they need to vent their anger and drive revenue away from your business.
Handle Customers with Care
In conclusion, I would always suggest that when dealing with a customer complaint, you keep one thing in mind, especially if you are working in the hospitality industry. That customer has the potential to ruin your reputation with consumers, so they must always be handled with care.
Htet Tayza, Escape Gastro Bar