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Are you ‘really’ listening?

By Paul Pavli , 22-Jan-2014

Pavli:

Pavli: "Examine all feedback with an open mind and be prepared to admit that you might get it wrong occasionally"

In the past I have questioned whether licensees are really listening to, and engaging with, customers by creating relevant marketing collateral and promotional activities. This time I want to talk about customer feedback and how (or if) staff, managers and licensees respond to it. Are they really listening?

Firstly, if you are not collecting any customer feedback, you should be.

Every successful business talks to its customers and, more importantly, listens to what they are saying. Failure to do so is a big mistake.

There are many ways of collecting feedback, from professional mystery shopper companies that don’t cost as much as you would at first think, to feedback cards left on the bar or delivered with the bill at the end of the meal, as well as a whole host of ways through social-media channels.

However, collecting feedback is one thing; my biggest bugbear is how this feedback is often dealt with once received. If businesses take the time and spend money to ask for feedback, and the customers take the time to give it, the least you should do is take the time to listen to it, and take in what has been said.

Valuable

Constructive criticism should be considered a valuable asset, but I’d be a very rich man if I had £1 for every time I’ve heard a licensee or manager dismiss such feedback as rubbish and go into defensive mode. To me, this is a bigger mistake than not looking at the feedback in the first place.

If frontline staff have the impression that you don’t care what your customers think about your business, you can’t expect them to care about giving great service and always putting their customers first. 

You must be prepared to review and act on ideas received. Examine all feedback with an open mind and be prepared to admit that you might get it wrong occasionally. The key is to learn by your mistakes.

Improvements

At Punch Taverns, we have launched a mystery shopper programme, working with our partners to provide them with independent feedback.

Our partners have embraced this initiative and work with both their employees and our team to make business improvements. In addition, it gives them an opportunity to reward their employees for great results.

Think about the following and how you are going to give better service:

  • How will you collect customer feedback — mystery shoppers, comment cards or social media?
  • How are you going to deal with the feedback and make improvements?
  • How will you measure your success through customer feedback? Is it through a reduction in the number of complaints or sales growth?

Remember, feedback is a gift and customers offer their comments because they want you to succeed.

Paul Pavli is operations director at Punch Taverns

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