Work in the service or hospitality industry, and it seems like this comes up more often than we refill waters. Not only a mantra but rather a cornerstone for understanding the role of restaurant in the service model, this is a valuable thing to consider in it’s many forms while contemplating customer feedback and how to anticipate it or respond to it. In the age of increasingly public complaints on social media and sites like Yelp, the customer service game has completely changed--and it’s keep up, or lose your reputation.
Countless factors can color a customer’s experience at your establishment--did they get in an argument with their partner that morning and are coming in looking for solace, or for someone to unleash their frustration on? Is the temperature of the air uncomfortable? Did they misinterpret cues from a server, or receive something different than they expected? Psyche is a fragile, fickle thing. At the end of the day, no matter where it comes from, customer feedback is inherently valuable (and preferable to silence) because it gives you and your establishment the opportunity to speak up, defend your business, and rectify accidental mishaps.
While constant deference can indeed be exhausting, pride-swallowing is paramount to understanding customers and learning to deal long-term. People patronize businesses for pleasure, for enjoyment, and an establishment should feel lucky that people want to seek their comfort, solace and nourishment within those specific walls.
Customer satisfaction and comfort should always be kept paramount, even in the face of unrealistic expectations or diva-like attitudes. A clear, firm and kind explanation can generally settle differences but, ultimately, customers are there to escape, to feel special, to be treated in a certain way--not to be given a lesson in manners, or a reality check, or to be told they need to lower their expectations. Maintaining a service-minded attitude at the forefront of your business can be the difference between a glowing online reputation that drives new patrons, or a digital burn book cataloging your missteps.
This veritable renaissance of customer feedback platforms shouldn’t be seen as a complete loss of agency in the way you do business, but rather as an opportunity to continually improve your services and anticipate the needs of your patrons like never before.
We’ve all seen those viral Buzzfeed posts: it can be daunting to sift through pages of text-heavy Yelp reviews, especially those of amateur storytellers and comedians--entertaining, but inefficient for enacting real internal changes. Data-driven alternatives like PLEY bridge the gap between feedback reporting and it’s positive effects by boiling down customer commentary into quantitative, usable conclusions. Staying humble and service-minded has never been easier and when in doubt, channel JFK: Ask not what your customers can do for you, but what you can do for your customers. And, with PLEY, you can actually make it a reality.