One review I read recently was from a restaurant patron who, according to him, had been wrongfully billed for items that should have been charged to another guest at the same table. To avoid embarrassing anyone, I won’t post the review here, but the basis of the criticism was primarily the manner in which the incident was handled by the staff and management, which was in my opinion rather poorly. So, how did the restaurant respond to the customer’s review? By trying to explain why the customer was treated so poorly.
Instead of apologizing to the customer and offering an amicable resolution, the business owner dismissed the customer’s legitimate complaints, made excuses for the staff’s actions, and then described how hard he works because he owns several businesses.
Now, we can get into the finer points of restaurant etiquette related to splitting checks or making assumptions about who is responsible for paying for what, but that’s a whole other article. For now, let’s skip over that part and get to what really matters: Did the business owner make the situation better or worse?
Whether the customer was right or wrong is irrelevant. What should be clear is that the restaurant’s response did nothing to reassure other customers, though it might have made the restaurant owner feel better.
For starters, take your ego out of the equation. Regardless of how hard you work, and how much time and effort you put into your business, you and your business are not one and the same. Your focus should be on fixing whatever went wrong for the customer, or at the very least, providing a sense of confidence for other customers who might read the review.
Next, ask yourself some simple questions.
All of these questions have actual real-world answers, and you as the business owner have the ability to affect the outcome. That means it’s up to you to determine what you want that outcome to be, and then craft a response that will guide you, your customers, and your business to that outcome.
As a business owner, you should absolutely take pride when happy customers offer positive feedback, but don’t take it personally when unhappy customers are critical, even if that criticism is unwarranted or directed specifically at you.
It’s still just business.