Digital reviews have changed the way many businesses interact with their customers over the past several years. Savvy customers check out reviews before they ever come near a website. They’re interested in past customer experiences: the quality of the food in restaurants, the quality of customer service, the atmosphere in the place. While it’s impossible to completely avoid bad reviews from frustrated customers–after all, you can’t guarantee who’s had a bad night, who is completely unreasonable, or when an employee simply isn’t up to par–by understanding the most common negative comments, you can significantly improve your ability to handle them.
Complaint #1: Bad Attitudes
From servers who appeared to want to be anywhere but at the restaurant to hotel clerks who were short-tempered, Yelp reviewers are quick to point out bad attitudes when they visit a new facility. Customers are looking for high-quality customer service. Sure, everyone is entitled to a bad day; but showing a bad attitude at work reflects badly on the business as a whole. You might not be able to control every employee’s attitude every day, but you can set a high standard for customer service that encompasses attitude. Try some of these strategies:
- Set a good example yourself in both your interactions with customers and your interactions with your employees. When you have a good attitude, others are more likely to follow suit!
- Create a great workplace environment. Offer opportunities for employees to have funtogether on and off the job. It will help improve their attitudes and make them want to be at work every day–and that simple shift communicates itself to the customers.
- Make communication a priority. Avoid allowing employees to be blindsided by unexpected changes or problems in the restaurant environment.
Complaint #2: Quality
Customers know that they “get what they pay for,” and they’re willing to demand the high quality they expect. Fail to deliver, and it’s little surprise that they’ll turn to Yelp and other online review sites to complain about the quality they received. One or two complaints about quality aren’t too much trouble for a business that has plenty of other reviews. If poor quality becomes a pattern, however, it will quickly start chasing customers away. Instead of allowing your business to fall victim to this trap, consider some of these strategies.
- Train all employees, whether you’re dealing with housekeeping or servers, in assessing and delivering quality.
- Conduct regular reviews–ideally surprise ones–to ensure that quality is being delivered.
- Go the extra mile for your guests, whether that means delivering free condiments or offering an upgrade to a customer that’s been inconvenienced.
Complaint #3: Slow Service
Today, everyone is busy. They have places to go, things to get done, and it seems as though wherever you go, there are people in a hurry. That doesn’t change when they set foot through the doors of your business. Whether your customers are checking into a hotel room in the hopes of getting some rest before heading out to take care of the rest of their trip responsibilities or grabbing a quick bite to eat in the middle of their day, they need service that’s as fast and efficient as possible. When service slows down, it doesn’t take long for customers to start complaining. While you might not be able to prevent customer delays entirely, there are several steps you can take to minimize them and keep customers happier.
- Know your peak times and make sure there are enough employees on hand to handle them.
- Offer methods that will allow customers to take care of themselves, streamlining their experience as much as possible. This might include kiosk ordering or check-in, self check-out lanes, or other measures.
- Warn customers ahead of time of delays. Wait times often creep up slowly, giving you plenty of time to warn customers who may be impacted by them.
Complaint #4: Vastly Different Experiences than Expected
When customers come to your business, they expect a certain type of experience. That may mean a specific type of food, a familiar atmosphere, or the type of service that they receive every time they visit your business. Unfortunately, failure to deliver on that expected experience, whether it’s based on prior visits to your business or visits to other, similar businesses, can lead to a high number of customer complaints. In order to deliver on customer expectations, try these strategies:
- Make sure that service is consistent. Train all employees fully and try to create policies for how you’ll handle a wide range of situations so that every response is the same.
- Get to know your competitors. What are they offering that you aren’t? Shift your business model to help provide an experience closer to what your customers expect.
- Listen to what your customers really want. Connect with them on social media and listen to them when they’re in your place of business to develop a better understanding of what they really want–then deliver it.
Complaint #5: Poor Compensation for Problems
People make mistakes–and that’s not a problem for most customers. They typically understand that not everything is perfect every time they visit a new place of business, and they’re willing to offer some leeway for new employees, mistakes made in the back, and even problems that could have been–but weren’t–anticipated. When things go wrong, however, customers expect the management to compensate them for those problems. If their concerns are brushed off instead of a manager taking their concerns seriously and trying to provide them with compensation, customers quickly grow frustrated. Instead, try these strategies:
- Have policies in place for how you will respond to customer complaints. Some compensation is on an as-needed basis, but in other cases, you can have a policy for how managers are expected to respond to specific styles of complaints.
- Always take customer concerns seriously. Even if they seem to be minor complaints, it’s important to understand how they may impact and inconvenience your customers.
- Be willing to go the extra mile for customers. Make it obvious that you care about their concerns and are willing to do your best for them.
Dealing with poor customer reviews is easier when you nip them in the bud and deal with them before customers have the opportunity to issue those complaints. Want to know more about how your customers perceive your business and how they may respond? Contact us today to learn how we can help!