With Yelp, Open Table, Facebook, and all the other ways to spread a good review or more importantly a bad one – businesses in all categories have to be laser focused on customer service. Some are monitoring their reviews and sending offers out to convince those who had a bad experience to come back and write about their next trip. Here’s the issue – once the bad review is out there, the “follow-up” review is of little to no value. Consumers are savvy enough to be skeptical, and it takes a number of good reviews to outweigh each negative.

Seasons 52Seasons 52 in King of Prussia, PA nailed it and turned a bad experience into a good one BEFORE a bad review went out. Here are the six things they did right to ensure customer satisfaction and retention.  Make sure that you and your management team are following these basics!

1. Ask the question

A team member walked around the dining room politely checking on all the guests to inquire if the restaurant was providing a good experience. When managing sales people – so often, a rep would take a client to lunch and assume that because they had a nice, friendly chat that the client was happy with the products and services provided. When the customer would then choose to go to another vendor, the salesperson was surprised. It’s not enough to feel as though everything is going well with a client – you have to ask if they are having a good experience. If you’re not asking, you’re assuming – and we all know what that means.

2. Respond to the Need

Upon finding out that we were left sitting at our table without a waiter, the team member immediately took our order and processed it. So often, customers will give the feedback and communicate exactly what they want or need without getting a response or appropriate action. In this case, the Seasons 52 staff member could have said, “Let me go get you a waiter.” This could have started the entire cycle of waiting to order all over again. Instead, she immediately took our order and assured us that she would get it to the kitchen quickly.

3. Follow-Through

After talking with her and placing our order, she immediately sent a waiter to our table who recited our drink order and assured us that he would be back quickly with our beverages and food. They then did what they promised – the food and drinks came out quickly and exactly as ordered. So often, sales people learn about a need and promise to turn the situation around – then never follow-through. When a customer decides to entertain a second chance for your company, you have got to follow-through with the action steps you’ve agreed upon that would make the situation right with your customer. Saying that you will do something and not doing it is the best way to make sure the customer never comes through the door again.

4. Take Responsibility

In between getting our drinks and receiving our food, the manager came to our table and she took full responsibility for the error that occurred. She explained that she had assigned a waiter to the table whose shift had ended. She apologized and in all ways explained that she was solely to blame. That alone would have ensured that I gave a good review. There is nothing worse than having someone come to make a situation right with you and do so by deflecting responsibility to another party. The management team should always take responsibility – even if the blame could be deflected – if you’re in charge, ultimately you’re responsible. In addition, there is nothing more disarming and refreshing than having someone take responsibility and ensure that steps are taken to resolve the errors made.

5. Follow-up leaving no room for future concerns

Once we finished our meal, the waiter, manager, and person who took our order all came back to the table together to follow-up with us. They again asked the right questions: Did we enjoy the meal? Were we happy with the way that they resolved the issue? Would we return again? Even after being assured that we always enjoy the establishment and understood the situation, they went out of their way to ensure that there would be no room to lose us as a customer. The lesson here, leave no room for future concerns or objections. Go out of your way to ensure customer retention and satisfaction.

6. Give a strong reason to return

As if the steps taken above were not enough, we were also offered a discount on our next meal at the restaurant. This is what separates good from great. Every single step noted here is key to superior service, customer retention and satisfaction. The step often missed is the reason to come back and this is the step that guarantees a continued relationship with the client or customer.

It used to be for every one bad experience, 20 people would hear the negative complaint. Today, the power of social media allows one bad experience to go out to hundreds of thousands in seconds. If any one of these steps gave you pause to think or wonder if it’s happening in your organization – starting right now, make sure all who interact with your clients and customers read this and follow through. Role play, mystery shop, create incentive programs… do whatever it takes to follow these simple guidelines and you can be certain that you are preventing negative reviews and promoting positives.