Check-backs are always an interesting point of discussion in our Engagement Workshop. The point of a ‘check-back’ is so that a customer has an opportunity to say if something is wrong with their meal, though often they will only confess of discontentment when they are paying the bill. Many a time I have heard; “But what can we do? We did a check-back and they didn't say anything until they had finished – it’s not our fault!”
50% of unhappy customers won’t complain full stop; mostly they don’t want to create a fuss, some just don’t care. Some are not sure if the meal they ordered is supposed to be like that; A Silent Customer recently reported eating an entire portion of chilled Potatoes Dauphinoise before they dared to query it!
Complaining half way through your dine can make for an uncomfortable rest of the stay. We cannot foresee the response and experience tells us that it may not be dealt with in the empathic and positive manner in which we would hope; "That’s the way we serve it", "Oh! I will get the chef out of the kitchen right now", "What evs!"
Most people err on the side of either fight or flight. Those who are happy to challenge the status quo and are unafraid of confrontation may well complain at check-back. Many of us, however, prefer to take the flight option and complain at the end where we can simply leave if the situation becomes uncomfortable.
A check- back is often executed as a quick, verbal only, walk by task. Teams often fail to take the time to see the uncomfortable body language of customer who is afraid to say anything and fleeting approaches to the table will not encourage customers to engage.
Skilled waiters who can develop a rapport at order stage will find it easier to extract a confession of discontent at check back stage but, at the very least, they will be able to find out at ‘flight’ stage where at least a small discount can be applied and Ta-dah! A very relieved and grateful advocate of the business is born.
So, what is your preference: Fight or flight?