Ignoring feedback

Dinner There was a restaurant that I frequented with the family on a weekend for lunch. It is well established, having been in business, successfully for many years. We had always been fans of the place but had noticed recently that business seemed to be declining. This struck me as strange, as the food, atmosphere and service were generally excellent.

Unfortunately, this weekend I found out (I think) the reason behind the decline – they have started ignoring customer feedback…

We spent a couple of hours there this past weekend, having two or three courses and a few drinks. Most meals were excellent, however Sarah’s was not quite up to scratch. I mentioned this to the waitress and she duly apologised. I then watched her for a few minutes to see what she did with the information  – and I found she did .. nothing – she didn’t let anyone else know, she simply went about her normal business. I then watched a similar event (different waitress) happen at another table, again the feedback from the customer went nowhere.

Later when the bill arrived, it was as though there was nothing wrong, I had a genuine complaint / dissatisfaction of their service and they had hardly even acknowledged it. This just made strengthened resolve to make my point / complaint heard.
I made a point of telling the waitress whom I was paying that I was not happy about paying for the meal that was not up to scratch, she called over the manager who very grudgingly discounted the price of that particular meal.

It struck me that their new policy seemed to be for the waitresses to apologise to any customers who complained but to do nothing else, not to inform the kitchen staff, not to offer any discount or similar gesture – basically, blindly ignore it and make it difficult for the customer to get any sort of recompense.
The reason for this approach seemed to be that they would not have to discount the meals / service (and therefore supposedly make more profit .. ??). This got me thinking of some ISPs and utility companies that I know who make complaining such a complex and involved process in the hope that the customer simply gives up.

For the sake of £6.95 (on a £60 odd bill) that restaurant lost :-

  • A tip (around the same value as the discounted meal)
  • A lot of goodwill from a party of 5 who frequent the place 3 or 4 times a month.
  • The custom of a party of 5 who frequent the place 3 or 4 times a month.
  • The opportunity to improve their service
  • The opportunity to prevent the same thing from happening to other customers.

Doesn’t seem like good business sense to me.

For anyone providing businesses or consumers with any kind of product or service your customers know best, ignore them at your peril.
These are the people buying your stuff, they know what they like about your stuff and what they don’t like about it. Their opinion (good or bad !!) is incredibly valuable.
But hey, maybe you’re right – maybe you do know better than your customers… 

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