Taking Ownership

May 19, 2017

Rich Parubrub wrote a great advice column on RunningRestaurants.com called “9 Tips for Managing Negative Restaurant Reviews”, to make sure “your voice is heard where your restaurant is being discussed.”  While all these tips are great and certainly apply to more than just restaurants, let’s focus on two that are closely related and critical to how a business conducts itself at all times, especially in the face of negative reviews:

The first is to “Own Up To It”.  Rich implores the reader to “acknowledge [the] mistake” because it’s “the honest and mature thing to do.”  Sometimes this is difficult for fear that admitting some kind of fault might actually hurt a business’s reputation, but the reality is that the business that behaves too defensively looks like one that has something to hide.   As Rich explains, it’s important to not “try to censor disparaging remarks or go on the offensive against an angry customer.”  The optics of following that course of action would only serve to make that business look like a bully anyway, which could exacerbate a minor problem into a huge one.

This is hard advice to follow in a scenario where a business owner knows he or she is in the right, and that the customer is actually wrong (despite the old adage), but the onus is still on the business to take the high road and engage an aggrieved customer politely and with good intention.  More often than not, customers just want to feel like they’re being heard and that their concerns are being taken seriously.  Whether they’re right or wrong is secondary.

The other point we wanted to highlight from Rich’s article is “Create a Plan of Action”.  This is a multi-layered concept because, as he notes, this ranges from creating solutions that will prevent the situation from reoccurring to compensating the customer with something like a gift card when appropriate.  The latter is the simplest to understand and execute on, as it is a one-and-done scenario.  But the former requires introspection, proactivity, and long-term effort.

To prevent a reoccurring issue, you must ask why the problem cropped up in the first place.  If the situation is one where the customer was at fault, you should ask, “How do we avoid misunderstandings in the future?”  If, on the other hand, the business is at fault, identifying the origins of the problem and implementing the solutions can be more involved: deep customer service analysis and training are the obvious tools for making those corrections.

Owning up to a problem and creating a plan of action both comprise the idea of “taking ownership”.  Taking control of problems, even when they’re no fault of your business, puts you in the driver’s seat towards an amicable conclusion, one that will increase your company’s goodwill and reputation.

Want to learn more about taking ownership of all levels of your business?  Contact The Brandt Group and we’ll help you create a plan of action that will lead your business to increased sales and customer loyalty.

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