Over the past few weeks we have had a few guest issues surface so I wanted to take a minute and review the H.E.A.R.T method that we use at Culver’s to make sure that every guest leaves happy.  In dealing with guests we need to remember one main thing, the guest may not always be right but our reaction to the guest MUST be right every time.  Below is the 5 step method that we follow at Culver’s.  Even before we use this method we must have the right attitude and frame of mind.  For our company to be successful we need to have loyal raving fans.  We are lucky, Culver’s is a passion brand.  As a passion brand it is even more imperative that we do everything we can to help make sure that everyone does indeed leave happy. 

  • Hear – The first step is to hear what the guest is saying. Maintain open and relaxed body language and establish good eye contact as the guest is talking. Actively listen to the guest in a way that lets them know you understand their situation by using appropriate facial expressions and head nods. Be attentive without interruption, listen to the facts. Be sure to allow the guest to finish speaking before you respond.  Do not interrupt.   
  • Empathize – After the guest is finished speaking, you have the chance to diffuse the situation by showing you understand their feelings. A good way to do this is to paraphrase what you heard the guest say. For example, “I understand you’re disappointed, your order took longer than expected.” Acknowledging their feelings prevents you from getting drawn into an argument. Don’t fight. Make it right!
  • Apologize – The next step is to apologize. Most guests tend to relax immediately once they’ve received a sincere apology. Becoming defensive, making excuses or blaming another team member for the mistake won’t help. Guests don’t really care whose fault it is, they simply want their concern resolved. The power of a sincere apology can earn their forgiveness.
  • React / Resolve – Think about what you can do to make it right. Take the discussion from negative to positive by asking the guest to identify a possible solution. You could say something like, “We want you to be completely satisfied. What can I do to fix this for you?” Or consider offering a solution you feel would be appropriate. For example, “Let me have this remade for you.” Guests don’t expect us to be perfect. They do, however, expect us to make it right.
  • Thank the Guest – Most guests are truly uncomfortable sharing a concern, which can make their behavior seem defensive or even confrontational. That’s why the last step should always be to sincerely thank the guest for bringing the concern to our attention. It shows we truly care. You could say something like, “Thank you for your patience and allowing me to make it right.”  Remind the guest that our goal is that every guest leaves happy and thank them for the giving us the chance to still make this happen.   
  • We need to take guest comments seriously but not personally.  One tip I have learned when dealing with a very difficult guest is to smile and say to yourself “I like you” if you feel yourself getting frustrated or annoyed.  The simple question of “what can I do to make it right” goes a long way.  We have seen many times in the past where a guest that had an issue can actually become a more loyal guest than others.  How do we make the guest feel when they leave?  If they leave upset or frustrated we have failed in our mission.  I always like to feel like we are one up on the guest when they leave.  I never want the guest to feel that we are even or worse that we still owe them something.  Even after fixing an issue I will often times throw in a little extra like a free desert or a certificate to use on their next visit.  If the guest can leave happy and feeling like we went above and beyond they will be back.  We need to remember that the lifetime value of the guest is worth far more than what it will cost us to make the situation right. 

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