I am truly honored to coach an executive in the restaurant industry. He is a hardworking, dedicated individual who truly cares about his customers and loves knowing that when people visit his restaurant, they leave with a satisfied appetite and a nourished soul. He works hard to find the freshest ingredients from local farms and producers for his unusually delicious entrées. He trains his staff on how customers like to be treated when dining in his restaurant and he supports the community by participating in fundraisers for various charities. He is a heck of a guy and he works really hard to run a good business. Is it any wonder that his feelings get hurt when he sees an occasional negative comment or a low rating online about the food, service, or ambience of his dining establishment, when he considers everyone who visits a guest and a friend?
As I coached my client, I warned him that you can’t take it personally. Criticism can be seen as a bad thing or the catalyst for change. So I asked him to begin to compile the comments and ratings that were less flattering and set them aside. We then took the time to review all of the positive things that were said in an attempt to define all the things he is doing “right” as far as the majority of his customers were concerned. It’s also a nice way to build your confidence and self-esteem since most small-business owners don’t get yearly performance reviews.
When we finally sat down to trend the negative data, my client was in a good place to start, knowing that overall he is doing a superb job of giving his customers a great experience. As we reviewed the information, I told him that when there are several complaints about something, it’s time to look at the processes and see if a change can be made to fix what customers are unhappy about. Now here’s the coaching secret I shared: I told him that if he is ever in a position to identify and communicate with those people who come forward with suggestions for change, to reward them with a discount coupon, a free drink, or dessert on the house. If one person is thinking it or writing it, how many others are, too?
So the next time you see a bad review about your business online, consider if there could be any truth to the criticism and then begin to adjust your operations to fix what is bothering your customers. Repeat business is the fastest way to higher profitability.
When was the last time you complained to a business, and did they do anything about it?
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