In the hospitality industry, complaints happen inevitably. The key to running a great business is to take care of the guest by listening to the complaint, and resolving it, to ensure a happy customer as well as to spend less of your time dealing with guest complaints.
Customers want to know someone is listening and that they are understood. They want to know that you are willing to take care of the problem to their satisfaction. No matter what the situation is, when a customer brings a complaint to your attention—even if they do it in a less-than-desirable way—be thankful. As the old saying goes, “We can’t fix it, if we don’t know it’s broken.” Moreover, we must realize that improper handling of a customer complaint can be costly to the business.
Dealing with customer complaints can be time consuming if you don’t pay attention or do an introspection on what needs to be improved in your establishment. Once you know how to handle a guest’s needs and complaints with efficiency, care and concern, you will be using less of your time on future complaints.
1. Listen well
Let the customer blow off steam. Do not interrupt. As the customer vents and sees you are not reacting, he or she will begin to calm down. The customer needs to get into a calm frame of mind before he or she can hear your solution—or anything you say, for that matter.
Let the customer know you hear what he or she is saying. If you or your company has made a mistake, admit it. If you did not make a mistake and it is a misunderstanding, simply explain it to the customer: Saying something along the lines of “I can see how that would be incredibly frustrating for you.” shows that your are not necessarily agreeing with what the customer is saying, but respecting how he or she perceives and feels about the situation.
Genuinely acknowledge and apologize. Sometimes more than a solution to the problem, this is actually what the customer is looking for. This shows guests that you care about their concerns and that you humanize them as opposed to just seeing them as another potential source of income for your business.
4. Offer a solution
This happens only after you have sufficient details. One thing to keep in mind: Know what you can and cannot do within your company’s guidelines. Making a promise you cannot commit to will only set you back. Remember, when offering a solution, be courteous and respectful. Let the customer know you are willing to take ownership of the issue, even if it was out of your control. Take charge of the situation and let the customer know what you are going to do to solve the problem.
5. Don’t let it drag on.
Set a timeframe and let your guests know you’re fixing the problem. Give them the assurance that you’re working on it and tell them when you will have it resolved. “We will have this fixed by noon today” addresses the guest concerns and shows that their comfort is of utmost importance. This ensures that your customer service is prompt and efficient. Setting a timeframe to get guests complaints handled immediately also helps you organize other tasks within the day without being sidetracked.
Ultimately, the best and most effective way not to spend time dealing with guest complaints is to have little to no complaints to deal with in the first place. Although zero complaints is impossible to achieve, the steps we’ve discussed will help make this process as efficient and as quick as possible.