A restaurant with a high-profile owner has developed an ingenious approach to dealing with negative customer reviews, which it says has improved the experience for both customers and staff alike.
Former Olympic swimmer Eamon Sullivan now owns four Perth hospitality businesses, including Bib & Tucker restaurant, and said that he has effectively made a game among his employees of who can solve the most customer problems and turn around potential negative experiences on the spot.
“There’s quite a lot of research, actually, into – you actually get more customer loyalty if you make a mistake and show the customer you can resolve it. The customers are actually more loyal than if the mistake never occurred, which struck me because for a long time, staff were always like: ‘They were just a pain in the arse, complaining about everything’,” he said in an exclusive interview on the My Business Podcast.
“We started changing our approach. Instead of thinking you’ve got grumpy table, make it a game, and see if you can make them happy before they leave, instead of just putting up with them, and dealing with it, and not engaging with them.”
The approach, Eamon explained, is not about killing customers with kindness, but make the focus on actioning feedback on the spot and getting customer-facing workers to develop a healthy competitive streak in trying to facilitate the largest number of feedback turnarounds.
“Do something that gives the gesture of saying, ‘Look, I understand that you're not feeling like you've had a great experience, but can we do this, or can we do that,” said Eamon.
The results of this approach speak for themselves, he insisted.
“We’ve actually found we’ve had a lot less negative feedback going forward if we deal with it at the time,” he said.
“So we now spend a lot more time looking at customers, and dealing with people that seem like their off-side, and we get daily reports of that sort of feedback from customers, and what was done about it.
“Now our staff, instead of just ignoring it, and after the service telling the manager, they come up to them during the service, and talk about how we can fix it. And most of the time, our customers either leave happy, or even then, we still get the odd one that will write an email to you after but we’ve found we’ve had less and less negative feedback.”
Hear more insights from Eamon on his transition from professional sports to business and building credibility in a new market on the My Business Podcast below:
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.