Complaining Customers

Complaining – Is the Customer Always Right?

What a question and this dilemma has been around since the year dot.  Many people have differing views, some agree, and many will disagree.  Social Media has brought this question well and truly out into the open especially for the Food and Hospitality sector.  Trip Advisor, Trivago and other sites where the paying guest is invited to leave an expression of their experience and opinion have opened these sectors up to be judged immediately whether they are truthful or not.

I do have a certain amount of sympathy for those companies and restaurants/cafes who have received bad reviews by people who may have an ulterior motive but how we handle the comments is what’s important. You can turn a negative into a positive.

Personally, I would treat complaints as if the customer is genuine and is right.  You must do a bit of detective work here and retrace the customer’s steps from the very beginning to find out where everything went wrong.

For example, did the problem start at the booking stage, was the customer treated with indifference on the telephone?  Was it when they were looking at the menu and giving the order or if a hotel client, did they arrive, and the room wasn’t ready or worse still not in the system?   It takes patience and time to retrace the client’s journey in order to make a bad situation good again or at least one where the client is prepared to give you a 2nd chance.

I would advise whoever is charged with dealing with online or face to face complaints has the patience of Jove, have a naturally cheerful disposition (a sourpuss will be the kiss of death) and genuinely want to showcase the company in its best light.

  • Read /Listen to the Complaint
  • Apologise
  • Ask and offer a solution to make the client feel better again
  • Don’t be afraid to acknowledge and learn from a mistake and teach others within your team what has been learned.

Hopefully, by acknowledging the complaint and offering a solution, the client will express their appeased opinion on the same platform they used earlier, and your business and establishment will win points for facing the complaint head-on in a sympathetic and intelligent manner.

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