Punch director: Let businesses shine by empowering staff

By Paul Pavli

- Last updated on GMT

Punch director: Let businesses shine by empowering staff

Related tags Customer service Complaint Service of process

I was fortunate enough to enjoy a fantastic customer service experience recently. In fact it was so good, I can’t stop telling everyone about it and now I’m about to tell you too… 

My experience got me thinking about customer service in pubs and if we give our staff enough empowerment to deal with complaints or issues, making the guest a true fan of the business.

It started with an online order with Hotel Chocolat. The order was worth £45 but I gave them the wrong house number. Before I discovered what I had done, the order had been 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 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.

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 customer expectations?

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 such an issue.

The vast majority of customers don’t want to complain, they want their issue dealt with efficiently.

  • Ask yourself how you review complaints and how 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. 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 complaints —fix the issues and make sure staff learn from each one. That way you will have raving fans as your guests.

Paul Pavli is managing director — Mercury Pubs division at Punch

Related topics Punch Pubs & Co

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