My life and work experiences have taught me that there is no such thing as goodwill gestures.
This is a common phrase throughout most customer facing businesses but as I work in the pub industry I’ll be focusing on that as I write this but the principles can apply to any business.
I do not believe in goodwill gestures.
As far as I’m concerned and as my experience has taught me, there are only two real reasons for a goodwill gesture.
1. The manager/ company hasn’t got the balls to confront the problem and defend their business/ team.
2. Admitting wrong doing and shutting them up.
I’m not sure at what point in my career I grew a pair of balls but it is metaphorically essential to be a manager and it’s only having recently observed managers that I can only describe as wimps that I have realised how ballsy I actually am.
Part of the package is dealing with confrontation sometimes mild, sometimes quite intense. If your gut reaction is to hide in the office and send your assistant to deal with it then you will be dishing out goodwill gestures forevermore!
In the past I have been instructed to issue goodwill gestures but outright refused to do it as I’d rather confront the problem rather than bury it and hide away. This has made me unpopular with area managers but more respected by the team.
It is so disrespectful to your team to give out goodwill gestures for every mild complaint where often the staff have been insulted or abused in the process. How can you expect them to value their role if you show no value? If you value someone threatening a one star trip advisor over a long serving team member?
Hands down I value the team member more every time! If I didn’t trust that they could do the job and be honest with me about problems, they wouldn’t work for me.
Trust your team and eliminate wasteful goodwill gestures that only serve to waste money on your promo line and make customers smug and arrogant to your teams.
It’s much better to relax and give your team permission to rectify mistakes rather than cause arguments and have it escalate to the manager or head office.
In my experience most complaints could have been prevented rather than resolved. We are constantly solving the wrong problem in pubs.
No I’m not going to give you a £20 gift card because you waited longer than you’d have liked, I’m going to reorganise my bar and kitchen to make us more productive and reduce waiting times. Otherwise I’ll be fobbing people off with £20 gift cards all year. For the sake of a few hours work I can not only save money but also make more money!
I accept that there are occasions where it is a good idea to intervene with a goodwill gesture and have done so it the past. The aim of this is to prevent the complaint though.
For example one bank holiday Monday a ticket was forgotten and we realised a table had waited over an hour for their food. I didn’t even bother trying to bullshit them. I went over with a refund and said “I’m really sorry you’ve waited so long, here’s your money back and can I get you a drink.”
This leads me onto
But in my case I admit it before they complain and get fobbed off with goodwill.
No business would willingly give out money and stock if it was just a case of some whingebag that we want to go away. If they were a troublemaker that only wants to moan, why would we even contemplate welcoming them back… for free? Surely that’s the chance to get rid of them.
You’d only give it out if they make a valid point in which case it’s not goodwill it’s compensation!
You’re not simply doing a good deed for the day by giving out gift cards to people that are lying about wait times and customer service. You’re compensating them for wasting their time and money in your establishment.
This needs to stop!
We shouldn’t need to be constantly reassuring customers that we will do better next time PLEASE give us another chance! You shouldn’t be apologising on a regular basis!
We should either be saying, no sorry you were rude to the team and we will not be compensating you for causing upset in the business or we need to solve the problem that caused the complaint requiring compensation!
That might be staffing levels, stock control, team morale or the managers leadership style.
As a manager I suggest that most problems are caused by the manager and it’s only a good manager that will see that. Have you just demotivated someone by reducing their shifts and then sending them out on the floor expecting all smiles and 5* service? Did you forget to order Stella and piss off the regulars? (I did this one but openly admitted it!) Are you sitting in the office while they’re in the weeds?
As my old boss used to say, if you point the finger there’s always 3 pointing back…
Going back to my ‘goodwill’ earnings, in all of the cases it was definitely reason 2. I say this because all of the companies I dealt with tried to fob me off with policy or terms and conditions but I didn’t back down because they were wrong and eventually admitted it by giving me refunds and pay outs.
No way would any of those companies have given me free money if I didn’t raise valid points.
Stop blaming customers for your poor service, they’re not annoying customers – you’re annoying them!