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Pizza Hut and Good Complaint Handling

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Pizza Hut LogoPizza Hut is among the places me and wife frequent, even though we don't find their pizza incredibly good; they're okay, but we have other favorite when considering pizza alone.

What we find comforting is that you can expect the consistent quality of food and service here, and combined with affordable options of the Sensasi Delight set menus, it's a good choice for budget eating. Though you might have to spend a bit more for their special treats, but for a very decent price you can get a good meal.

Another reason is that while on some days things are just not right, their consistent respecting attitude towards us as the customers is what kept us loyal; including on part where we think they excel; Complaint handling.

Now lets step back a little bit and have a wider view at this matter; we understand that for no apparent reasons on some days, everything could went wrong, and food business it's no exception. How you handles them however, is the one that makes a difference.

So lets have a comparison between some of the worst reactions we personally received on such bad hair day moments:

Case One: The missing Tom Yum Goong which can't be cancelled

There's this one well known Thai restaurant in EX, Plaza Indonesia, Jakarta, that offers various style of northern and southern Thai cooking, and at this one fine day we went there to check on the rumours.

At that time my wife the picky eater was also just found her passion in Tom Yum Goong and welcomed my suggestion to try the one served here.

So we went there when the place was fully booked and we have to be on the long queue list; that's how famous they were, considering the prices are not cheap. Thanks to the wonderful paging system they have, it allows us to spent our time elsewhere while waiting for available seats.

Up to the time of having my meal everything went well; what's wrong is that my wife's meal never showed up, not even until I finished mine, and the other guests came later than us have also had theirs served.

We decided then to ask one of the server about the status of our order. There were some questions thrown around among the staffs, and listening to the conversion it seems as if they didn't even record our order correctly.

Seeing the situation, and my wife was already in a bad mood we then decided to just cancel the order. We're thinking to just visit our favourite restaurant "Secret Recipe" which is about two floors downstairs.

Surprisingly our request was denied, as the waiter informed us that it's already being cooked. Avoiding to confront, we submit to their plan. Though it requires us to wait for another while before the meal finally came out.

When the meal finally ready, it looked sparse with just little things going on in there. Though it tasted okay to me, it was clearly not a match to our favourite version at "Secret Recipe", thus surely it was not enough to change my wife's already ruined mood.

They did gave us a complimentary desert (one to be shared between us) afterward, and one of the senior staff pat my back while saying sorry, as we walked leaving the premise. I didn't find that proper, nor pleasing.

Another example came just recently, is from one of our one favourite Padang food restaurant, the leading brand on the market.

Case Two: The tough Rendang, and tougher Server

So we visited this big Padang restaurant which the name implies something the other way around, at Jalan By Pass Ngurah Rai, near the Simpang Siur junction.

This is our favorite lunch spot, since my wife's family came from Padang, and practically for my wife this is like home cooking. The other reason is, since we haven't find other good Padang restaurant here in Denpasar, Bali, as choices are much more limited than in Jakarta or even Bandung.

So on this one fine day we came to visit them for lunch, and despite all the good food that we ate, for unknown reason the Rendang that day was below par; it's tough and it's hard to eat. So we went to ask them about it while we're paying our bills, just to let them know that one of our favourite dishes that day is a bit disappointing.

To our amazement, the server simply challenge our complain with informing that it must be the part of xxx meat that we've eaten and we should have chosen the yyy part of the meat instead.

Now that's funny considering with naked eyes you cannot easily recognize what part of beef you are eating in your plate, and to add to the fun, all meat would looks the same cooked in Rendang fashion! Beside, they're the one who picked the meat for us, yet they blamed us for a choice we never have. That's a big doh.

I think Natrabu might be a better choice if you want to have a proper Padang style food, which also includes proper quality service; it might worth the slightly higher costs.

Sadly those are not the only two bad complain handling that we had in the past, and I can see that they will still be more coming up ahead in our journey as food adventurers, but I hope those two would be enough to give you background on how some businesses still take customer satisfaction lightly, or complaint as an attack instead of input, and this is from what we considered as an upclass premise, and a market leader.

Now let's see what happens with Pizza Hut that makes the difference.

Case Three: The slightly off Cream Soup and freebies resulted

One of our favourite menu in Pizza Hut is their Soup & Salad set. Their Salad Bar is among the greatest of restaurants caters to the mass in Indonesia. The only worthy contender to Pizza Hut Salad Bar I think, is the one served at Sizzler, though you have to spend almost a double since they offers it as a compliment for any main meal ordered, which mostly are steaks.

Their hot soup, can shy away discomfort, including the one that you have when your body begins to show symptoms of influenza. Combined with the fresh ingredients of the salad, it's a good meal to maintain your well being.

However as the Murphy law stated that "if it can go wrong it will", there are several occasion where we find the quality soup has begun to taste a bit off. Being a good customers, doing necessary steps to protect our favourite restaurant from bad ramblings, we then informed the waiter about the situation.

In like 100% of the times this is happening (about 3 or 4 times in different location along our 10+ years of frequenting them), the response is always the same; first apologizing, and then assessment, which are conducted with the waiter consulting a senior officer about the case. And in like 100% of the times also, it ends with them replacing the whole batch of the soup with a new one! It is also followed up with another apology and offers of free items from the menu (e.g. salad), which doesn't only makes us customers feels heard, but also respected. We usually turned the offer off anyway, since free meal was not our intention of doing that.

Once I tried doing the same about over salty cream soup in another restaurant in Festival Plaza, which serves all you can eat chicken based foods; the waiter just stared at us, uttered some light apology, and then nothing is happening with the soup, even until we left the premise like an hour later. Guess who will we confidently visit when next time we're longing for a bowl of cream soup?

Investing in Customer Experience might costs; training your staffs is not an easy task, nor creating a SOP (Standard Operation Procedure) and making sure it is applied with strict discipline, dumping your food due to customer complaints and offering freebies is risky since it could set a precedence which could be taken advantage by irresponsible customers. But it's vital in developing your brand, and often reputation and consistency is all that you got to attract partisans; fanatic customers to your service, who doesn't just frequent your premise, but is also a terrific PR (Public Relations) agent who refers you to their friends, spreads the good news about you, while also defends you when situation needs them to. And they're free, as long as you maintain them with consistency and recognition; including hears them out when they are complaining about your service. It worth the efforts. (byms)