Can you fix the top customer complaints about your business? Here’s how to navigate the most prominent issues being reviewed by customers.
Who knew that one little star could have an almost 10 percent impact on your business?
It might be tempting to dismiss online customer complaints as nothing more than disgruntled customers letting off steam, but reviews can have real impact — a Harvard Business study of Seattle restaurant reviews on Yelp (between 2003 and 2009) found that a small, one-star increase in Yelp ratings lead to a 5–9 percent revenue increase for nonchain restaurants.
Whether that study directly applies to your business, it’s a clear indicator that Yelp is a source of valuable information. This is especially true when it comes to cleanliness since it tops the list of online customer complaints. Check your online reviews on Google, Yelp and other sources, and use this article as a guide for making the improvements to your business.
“The floors are filthy!”
While it’s not the first thing most people think of when they think “restaurant,” floors are one of the first things they notice.
Crumbs, grease, stains and generally dirty floors can send a signal to your customers the second they step into your establishment. They may also interpret the state of your floors as a peek into what’s going on in your kitchen, so don’t miss a chance to send a positive message here.
Action Point: Take a new approach to your floor surfaces. Consider matting programs and cleaning services. You may even want to look into restorative cleanings. Regardless, consider keeping a program in place that incorporates deep cleaning, protection and maintenance.
“The restrooms are dirty and the toilet paper is out.”
According to a Cintas survey conducted by Harris Interactive, bathroom cleanliness matters and it matters a lot.
This survey found that 94 percent of U.S. adults say they would avoid a business if they’d encountered a dirty restroom there. If they’re that likely not to return, they’re also likely to leave a negative review for other potential customers to see. Even though only a percentage of your customers encounter your restroom facilities, their state of cleanliness might influence many more.
Action Point: You can help minimize customer complaints by implementing an ongoing restroom care program. This program should focus on keeping items stocked, as well as regular deep cleanings. Daily maintenance is important, but deeper cleansing also helps to remove odors and organic soils and stains that lighter cleaning misses.
“They don’t change their mops and rags.”
Employees who understand proper cleaning will likely change their mops and rags for cleaning different surface areas.
This might be a simple issue of training your employees, but it can mean big problems when it comes to customer complaints online. This is especially true in a time of resistant bacteria, such as MRSA and norovirus — issues on which the public is generally well-educated.
Action Point: As mentioned before, you might only need to review proper training to address this issue and remind your employees of the risks they are putting on both themselves and their customers by not paying closer attention to their cleaning tools. If you want to incorporate one of the latest trends in cleaning processes, it might be helpful to borrow a page from health care and set up a “zone cleaning” system. According to Building Services Management magazine, this cleaning program uses cleaning schedules, smarter cleaning solutions and color-coded and zone-specific tools and supplies (identified through wall charts) to help stop the transfer of dirt and pollutants before it starts.
“The kitchen is just awful.”
Every wary online reviewer has their eye out for kitchen slip-ups, and a mistake here can easily cost you a star or two. Keeping a clean kitchen can set you up for a stellar online reputation, so set cleanliness standards high.
Clutter has been shown to increase anxiety and stress, so instilling a culture of a clean kitchen — despite the chaos of peak meal times — may actually keep chefs and cooks with more level head. You may find that lunch and dinner rushes cause less stress if tidying in the process is emphasized.
Action Point: Kitchen cleanliness doesn’t have to be complicated. Consider implementing chemical dispensing units so that your staff can access the materials and supplies they need quickly and easily. Doing this can save your staff time and energy that they can then invest into proper food safety and keeping surfaces clean.
To get an idea which of these complaints apply most to you, visit a few sites, and even consider setting up alerts to find out when reviews of your facility are posted. You never know what useful information you’ll find when you take a look online.