The Importance of Customer Complaints

glass-of-wine.gifI have a friend who bartends at a local restaurant. Sometimes I like to go and have a glass of wine while he’s working to catch up on life. Last week, while enjoying a nice Shiraz, I overheard the owner of the restaurant complaining to the manager about a customer.

“I can’t believe that woman! She came up and complained about how we use too much butter on the vegetables. It’s a restaurant – of course there’s butter. If she didn’t want so much on there, she should have told her server.”

This got me thinking. It’s easy for us, no matter which industry we serve, to complain about our customers who complain. Instead, I think we should be thanking them.

A customer who complains has the guts and the brand loyalty to tell you exactly what you need to do to meet their expectations. Think of it this way….

That same woman could have easily walked out of the restaurant, not saying a word to the owner. Then, since her expectations were not met, she would have most likely spread negative word of mouth, bashing the restaurant and their butter-happy ways to 10 of her friends.

What if this restaurant adopted the mindset of “complaints are just a form of feedback.” The decision to make a change still rests in the hands of the owner – only now he is equipped with the knowledge of what his customers really want.

Just food for thought.

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

6 thoughts on “The Importance of Customer Complaints

  1. Hi Andrea:

    Great observation, awareness and suggestion. In fact, I’d rather have a temporarily disappointed customer than an always “satisfied” customer. With a disappointed customer, I now have an opportunity to WOW that person and turn them into a “Raving Fan,” a walking talking billboard for my business because (1) I cared enough to listen and fix their complaint AND (2) I went above and beyond their expectations AND (3) I did what my competition would not normally do.

    I’m reminded of an experience at Coastal Flats when the new Tyson’s Corner Mall location had just opened. Being the type of couple that lets the establishment politely know when something is not in line with what we expect, we asked the waiter if we were in the non-smoking section of the restaurant as we could smell cigarette smoke at the booth at which we had just been seated. Not only did a manager immediately appear, apologize and help move us across the restaurant where there was no cigarette smoke (we were close to the bar where smoking was allowed; the new ventilation system was inadequate and was in the process of being upgraded), he gave us a customer gift certificate for $50.00 for our inconvenience. WOW. Do you think I came back? What do you think I tell my friends, business associates and anyone else I care about?

    It’s no wonder that Coastal Flats (and all Great American Restaurants, I believe) have regular customers willing to at times wait hours to be seated.

    Thanks for the great blog, Andrea.

    Rick

  2. Well, it’s a little late for a comment, but i’ll put my two cents in here because your blog came up in a search.

    Sure, the hospitality industry is based upon providing exelent customer service, but in my opinion it’s important to know where to draw the line when dealing with complaints. For example, In dealing with the patron who had too much butter, what was done to resolve that complaint? Did the manager just nodd, smile and appologize, or did he buy her entire meal and give her a gift card. Certainly she would be happy with a free meal and come back to use the gift card, but how would that affect the bottom line? The server had a point, and if the server was held responsible then they had every right to say what they did. The sad fact is that there are always going to be whiny, complainy people who will find something to whine and complain about. And they need a polite version of “tough crap”. This may seem like bad service to some unexperienced business people, but it’s the reality of the situation. THe manager simply should have appologized and sent her on her way. she may never come back, (doubtfull), but her friends certainly wont abandon the restaurant (they probably sympathize with the manager.) There you have it. Sometimes the customer isn’t just wrong, they’re more toruble than they’re worth, but the trick is keeping that to yourself but acting accordingly.

  3. When I do search I found your blog informative. Good quality products or services we make our consumers happy. There are also times consumers not satisfied on the products or services. If consumers felt bad on it, there are consumer advocacy online where you can voice out positive or negative feedbacks on them. I have also found that in the Search Complaints is a portal will help you to search reviews or complaints with the companies, products or services.

  4. Upon reading your blog I found it interesting. If ever consumer experience from disappointing to the products or services. In this particular case consumers mostly went to or call the customer service to share the problems they had. Here’s a great portal of information about consumer’s issues – Service Complaints

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