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Complaining – Is the Customer is always, right?

What a question and this dilemma have been around since the year dot. Many people have differing views, some agree, and many will disagree. Social Media has brought this question well and truly out into the open especially for the Food, Travel & Hospitality sector. Trip Advisor, Trivago and other sites where the paying guest is invited to leave an expression of their experience and opinion have opened these sectors up to be judged immediately whether they are truthful or not.

I do have a degree of sympathy for those businesses, restaurants/cafes who receive bad reviews from people who may have an ulterior motive but how we handle the comments is what is important. You can turn a negative into a positive and attitude is so important.

Personally, I would treat complaints as if the customer is genuine. You must do a bit of detective work here and retrace the customer’s steps from the very beginning to find out where everything went wrong. For example, did the problem start at the booking stage, was the customer treated with indifference on the telephone? Was it when they were looking at the menu and giving the order or if a hotel client, did they arrive, and the room wasn’t ready or worse still, their details were not in the system? It takes patience, time, and effort to retrace the client’s journey to turn around the client’s opinion and give you a 2nd chance.

The customer wants to know that someone is taking their complaint seriously and someone has taken charge so give them a contact name and telephone number. Explain what will happen next and offer a timeline of when you will get back to them. To ignore a complaint and not take it seriously will often do more damage to your reputation than the complaint on its own.

I would advise whoever is charged with dealing with online or face to face complaints has an abundance of patience, possess a naturally cheerful disposition (a sourpuss will be the kiss of death) and genuinely want to showcase the company in its best light.

Hopefully, by acknowledging the complaint and offering a solution, the client will express their renewed opinion on the same platform they used earlier, and your business and establishment will win points for facing the complaint head-on in a sympathetic and intelligent manner.

As the poet and author Maya Angelou once said “A person may not remember your name or even what was said, but they will always remember how you made them feel”.

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