Survey highlights best practice and customer perceptions with complaint handling

Press Release : March 16, 2010
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In the majority of cases (84%) acknowledgement of issues by senior management on duty is the preferred response for customers who have given negative feedback during a visit. However, the survey revealed that there is a common perception that feedback whether provided during or after a visit – doesnt always reach the most appropriate person. Two thirds of respondents felt their feedback only got through to the right person sometimes.

Regardless of who received and acknowledged feedback, expectation that a bad experience should attract compensation of some sort is high at 94%. Compensation preferences, however, vary. If still on site, offers of complimentary food or drink are well received by 7 out of 10 individuals, while money off the bill is a more popular alternative than a voucher to eat at the restaurant on another occasion.

Very often acknowledgement and an act of goodwill can make a significant impression on a customer who has raised an issue with a member of staff, explains Sally Whelan, director at The Mystery Dining Company. She adds: On the whole, customers dont relish the thought of making a complaint but if they do its actually to the operators benefit as they have the opportunity to change the customers perceptions by competently handling any issue that is raised while they are on site.

Other key facts:

55% of respondents were equally likely to offer comments on good experiences as bad. 22% only spoke up after a bad experience.
7 out of 10 respondents would prefer to offer negative yet constructive criticisms via an electronic format rather than face-to-face
The most common cause for complaint was about the food itself, with speed of service coming second
The majority of customers would offer feedback in the first 24 hours after a visit (54%) while 20% would try and do it while still on site
5-10 minutes is the average length of time customers will willingly spend giving feedback after a visit (56%)

The survey findings also highlight that establishing the right channels for feedback in a business are important.

Only 11% of respondents said they didnt feel the need to regularly provide feedback, whether positive or negative, however, half of those surveyed said they didnt give feedback as a matter of course as there was no easy way to do so.

For Whelan one of the most interesting findings of the survey was the participants willingness to share experiences where they believed management responded to feedback in an exceptional manner.

Nearly half of the respondents were able to identify an experience where they felt their feedback had been handled in a positive way. These experiences ranged from managers offering both an apology and a complimentary drink, through to replacing or not charging for meals and in some cases voiding the bill for the entire table and offering discount vouchers to encourage a return visit.

It was evident in the way the participants recalled these events that a strong degree of goodwill had been established by prompt and effective handling of complaints, she adds.

Attentiveness and diplomacy are important skills for waiting staff and restaurant managers.

Recognising when someone is dissatisfied is important, she adds. It will work to an operators advantage if staff can identify and manage the customers expectations before they actually have to say anything. Ensure all staff understand the protocol for handling an unsatisfied customer; for example, let staff know if they are able to offer a complimentary drink or dessert without checking with management first. This allows staff to be more reactive and not leave the customer feeling as though they are waiting for a resolution.

The Operators Point of View
The Mystery Dining Company is currently seeking feedback from operators to gain their perspective on customer complaints and handling feedback. All businesses participating in the 5 minute survey will be entered into the draw to win 3 months worth of mystery visits to his or her establishment. To complete the survey visit: http://survey.mysterydining.co.uk/TakeSurvey.aspx?SurveyID=m6KJ5p9

For more information
The Mystery Dining Company facilitates a range of different customer experience programmes across venues including hotels, restaurants, pubs, bars, cafes and takeaway outlets. These programmes include elements such as mystery visits, electronic customer comment cards, focus groups and staff training. All reporting is undertaken online, with round-the-clock access to results.

Fore more information visit www.mysterydining.com or call 01225 470 281

ENDS

For more information contact Kate Zappa at Creatrix PR
Tel: 01225 423 400
Email: kate@creatrixpr.co.uk

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