New Consumer Reports Restaurant Study Has Suprising Results

In a study of chain restaurants in the July 2009 edition of Consumer Reports, customers reported at least one complaint during a whopping 43 percent of the visits!  The complaints reported are very surprising and an area that we should all be focused on improving in our hotel restaurants.  consumer-reports-logo

Here are the top complaints:

  1. Noise (reported in 26% of visits)
  2. Poor Service (18%)
  3. Cleanliness Issues (10%)
  4. Food Quality (7%)

Most people would automatically assume that food quality issues would be the top complaint in a restaurant.  Keep in mind that this study covered restaurants from Denny’s all the way up to Morton’s Steakhouse.  You probably spend a lot of time working on your menu and your food quality.  Keep in mind that this is the area that the fewest people complain.  Where should you focus most?  First, hopefully your hotel restaurant does not have a noise problem. Very few of the restaurants our mystery shoppers visit have any sort of noise problem.  However, many of the hotel restaurants have both a service problem and some cleanliness issues.

Service problems are the biggest problem areas during our mystery shopper’s visits.  Surprisingly, the biggest problems are the most basic service standards.  Many servers struggle to do basic standards such as taking orders, pre-bussing tables, and delivering the check correctly.  Schedule a mystery shop today to see how your service ranks.

We also see a few cleanliness issues during our visits.  The main culprits?  Buffets and bathrooms.  Bathroom cleanliness was also a complaint in the Consumer Reports study.  Have a messy bathroom in your restaurant is probably the quickest way to scare a guest.  The buffet problems we report are issues such as dirty plates in the plate rack and messes left on the buffet from other guests.  Be sure that dishes are inspected after they come out of the dishwasher and before they are put on the buffet.  Also, be sure you have someone monitoring the buffet to clean up the mess left by guests who don’t know how to operatate a set of tongs.

Keep focused on the basics to improve your guest satisfaction scores!

Simple Guest Service Reminders

For the new year, resolve to improve guest service throughout your property.  We all know it will be tough year to hit budgets and to attract more business.  A great, and cheap way to keep the business you already have is to make sure your guest service exceeds standards.  A very simple way to do so is by making sure that your team  is trained to say the right things to guests.

customer_serviceAt a recent stay at a very fancy and expensive hotel, we ran into many issues.  The issues ranged from very small to a very large one but regardless, it did not seem that the guest service team was properly trained to handle the problems that we encountered.  Though they were able to fix the problems quickly and satisfactory, the guest service team was not empathetic or even apologetic at all.  This made our mystery shopper feel very unimportant even though we had just paid over $400 for the night.

To see the effect of slight changes in your team’s words on your guest service, please read this article on the Hotel & Motel Management website.

The author, Doug Kennedy, provides great examples of what many of your associates currently say to guests and what they should say instead.  It is a great way to improve your guest service without much cost!  For example, Kennedy points out the dreaded way to greeting a lone-diner at a restaurant with, “Just One?”, making the diner feel even lonelier.    He provides an excellent way to greet those guests by using, “Welcome to the restaurant  are you ready to be seated?”  The author also gives a few other great examples but leaves you to figure out how this concept can be applied to the many other areas of guest contact in your hotels.  It is a great way to keep your current guests happy and have them continue to choose your hotel in the future without spending any money!