Even at your most charming and doing your best to tick all the boxes at your B&B it’s likely a guest will, at some point or another, have a complaint or negative feedback to relay.

Our world is internet-driven and customers have more power than ever before (which is a good thing if a customer has a positive experience and shares it with their online connections, but a damning one if they voice their concerns in a public domain). 13% of unhappy customers will share their complaint with 15 or more people so, as a hotelier, you will need to create an environment that welcomes feedback and gives you the chance to defuse a situation face-to-face.

Building an atmosphere where your customers feel open enough to voice their displeasure face to face is incredibly important. Anything online is very public and usually quite permanent, so knowing how to turn an unhappy customer into a guest that feels they are taken care of is essential to the survival of your small business.

Here’s what you need to do when a guest complains…

Remain Calm And Recognise Their Complaint

Staff attitudes towards the situation can have a massive effect on the reaction of the complaining customer. If the staff member acts annoyed, impatient, or gives off body language that is disrespectful, then it is likely the customer will increase their irritation.

If the staff member is calm, kind and acknowledges the feedback as legitimate, then the situation will likely diffuse and result in a common understanding.

Try To Offer A Solution To The Problem

Research has shown that customers care more about a quality response than speed of the response. Ensure your solution matches the issue at hand whilst steering clear from the original issue. For instance, if a customer is complaining about the quality of the food, do not offer them another free meal that will only offer the same disappointment, rather give them their meal for free and tell them you will work towards improving the meal according to their feedback.

If this is not the first time the customer has complained about this particular issue than you need to ensure you are offering a different solution, do not give the impression you are just glossing over the problem to quieten them.

Ensure you follow up with the customer the day after they submit their complaint, to show you care and encourage them to visit again.

Use The Situation To Improve Your Business

It may seem like an all-round negative experience receiving a complaint but feedback is important, and you should look to turn it into a positive. You can use this experience to work on your customer service skills and make sure you do not receive the same complaint twice.

Additionally, only 5-10% of dissatisfied customers actually chose to make a complaint (some people just don’t have the type of personality to complain) so this might be something others have had an issue with but were too polite to say.

Having someone openly tell you what they are unhappy means you are receiving the feedback you need to improve your business and stay aligned with your competitors. This advice should then be used to fine tune your customer experience and ensure you are providing the best possible service at your B&B.Subscribe to the Little Hotelier blog for news on bed and breakfast and small properties

By Dean Elphick

Dean is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist of Little Hotelier, the all-in-one software solution purpose-built to make the lives of small accommodation providers easier. Dean has made writing and creating content his passion for the entirety of his professional life, which includes more than six years at Little Hotelier. Through content, Dean aims to provide education, inspiration, assistance, and, ultimately, value for small accommodation businesses looking to improve the way they run their operations (and live their life).