But before I start, my experience got me thinking about how we deliver customer service in pubs and if we give our staff, including area managers, enough empowerment to deal with complaints or issues, making the guest a true fan of the business.
My wonderful experience started with an online order with Hotel Chocolat. The order was worth £45 (the order was for very good friends) but I sent it to the wrong house number. Before I discovered what I had done, the order was confirmed and despatched.
Having realised my mistake, I went online to 'chat' with a customer service adviser who confirmed my error. Fully prepared to take the hit as it was my clumsiness at fault, the adviser then took me by surprise and without any prompt said Hotel Chocolat would arrange another delivery, to the right address, the next day and free of charge.
I was blown away with how quickly she was empowered to deal with and resolve my problem and not one of their own making. I am now an even bigger fan of their business and will continue to share my Hotel Chocolat experience.
Their attitude to customer service, however, should not be the exception but should sit at the heart of every customer-facing business.
So, my challenge centres on empowerment. Do we give our staff enough responsibility to deal with this type of issue or a customer complaint? Or has our desire for process stopped staff from using their intuition and exceeding the expectations of our customers?
Do we make excuses for customer complaints and not properly deal with them, if we do this, how do we expect our staff to take complaints seriously?
I didn't have a complaint with Hotel Chocolat, I made the mistake. However, I wonder how our staff would deal with a similar issue where the customer ordered the wrong meal, side dish or drink.
Wouldn't it be great to resolve the problem without any quibble guaranteed? The vast majority of customers don't want to complain, they just want their issue dealt with efficiently and quietly, so it doesn't spoil their experience.
- Ask yourself how you review complaints and, more importantly, how do you share what you have learned with your team so they have the confidence to resolve similar issues
- Conduct a review with your staff to find out how much power they think they have to resolve a customer complaint. Use the findings to review your own customer service procedures – perhaps you need to think less about process and more about the customer experience
- Make sure every member of staff knows what they can do to fix complaints, how much they can spend and what they can give away
And finally, don't build too good a system for dealing with complaints, fix the issues and make sure your staff learn from each one, that way you will have raving fans as your guests.
Paul Pavli is operations director at Punch