Recently, at one of my restaurants, there was a guest complaint about the delay in delivering the order to guest’s home and they did not enjoy our food this time as much as they always relish. When this complaint came up to the outlet manager of our eatery, he went an extra mile, and to my pleasant surprise, he found out guest’s home address, called them, took an appointment from them and visited the guest at their home with a bouquet of flowers, an apology card and an invitation to visit our restaurant for a lovely dine-in experience.

Needless to say, that the guest whom the manager visited was awed by this interaction and he turned into one of our most staunch brand fans. One incident like this helped us create better and greater CLV – customer lifetime value and enhance our brand name further. At Kebabs & Curries Company (KCCO) we call this “Service Recovery” and we ensure that each of our team members knows this crucial concept and practices well at all times.

Customer lifetime value or popularly known as CLV means the complete worth of a customer for a service brand or any other business over the whole period of their relationship. It’s a paramount metric for any business and especially for service focused business-like food and beverage, restaurants and eateries. It takes less efforts and also costs less to keep existing patrons than it does to secure and bring-in new ones, so amassing the value of the current customers is instrumental in driving growth.

Team members should be encouraged to look for ways and means to go above and beyond to win back any and every dissatisfied customer. Another very important concept that goes hand in hand with service recovery is “Empowerment”. A team member who is empowered by top management to look for opportunities to delight guests could really make a massive positive impression on the guest experience.

A simple example of empowerment would be when a server handles and tackles a guest complaint at his level, fixes the guest concern and notifies the team and management about this complaint and the step taken to win back the guest and solve the complaint.

When a guest’s complaint or issue is handled at the first contact, mostly by the entry-level team members, the solution to the problem is swift, quick and could be solved with limited compensation or with simple steps taken to fix the complaint. As the issue or guest problem goes up the hierarchy of management, compensation towards fixing the guest complaint would increase manifold. In simple words, if a complaint is addressed and solved at first contact, it is far better. This is only possible when top management empowers their team members.

Basically, we are looking at more and more repeat business through our loyal guests while we bring in new customers as well and build a huge set of patrons for our brand. The concern remains when our patrons end up having a bad experience with our brand. The bad experience could be faced by the guests in the restaurant (with food or service), in delivery order or in a take-away order. A guest could feel not very happy with offerings of the brand in any of their transactions with eateries.

To fix this and win back a displeased guest – equipping our teams with the concept of service recovery and giving them a free hand by means of empowerment could allow any business to create memorable and unforgettable experiences for our patrons and guests.
Word-of-mouth (WOM) from these guests would only enhance our brand and bring us even more engaged customers. Empowerment and service recovery when played well could be game changers for a service centric hospitality and eatery business.

Varun Behl is a Jaipur based restaurateur operating a chain of restaurants and QSRs (Quick Service Restaurants). Varun is a seasoned food & beverage and hospitality management professional with experience spanning over 17 years; a decade of which is with Marriott International in India and its global operations. Food and beverage and entrepreneurship are his forte – which he lives every day and is keen to share his insights with peers and mentees alike.