This blogpost on the very interesting blog of Steve Curtin made me realize what I already knew secretly: Most people don’t complain because they like to complain, want reduction or to try make your life difficult. Instead of that 95% of the complaints are because the guest experiences something different than what (s)he expected on the basis of the price they pay, the image of the restaurant or what (s)he has heard or read on the internet. In fact this is the very basis of all ServQual models. A well know formula is Quality = Perceived Service – Expectations.
If you keep this in mind, it’s much easier to handle complaints and to solve them. Let me remind you of some basic (well-known) rules
- Don’t take it personal and don’t be too defensive
- Paraphrase (repeat in other words) to see whether you have a full understanding of the problem
- Show comprehension:’I understand that you..‘. Use the I-form as much as possible to show that you feel responsibility to solve the problem. Apologize if applicable
- Ask what the guests expected/expects or wants. Often this little question (what do you expect me to do) is the beginning of the guest’s satisfaction
- Solve it yourself! If you receive the plaint, it’s yours and your responsibilty to solve it. Of course you can give the problem to another person (a collegue if you don’t have time or your manager if it’s beyond your limits) but it stays your responsibility and checkback if everything is allright at the end
- Use the complaint as input for improvements in your service, food or procedures