A very popular restaurant in Lagos, Nigeria where the working middle class and more, would go for their African and continental dishes was losing customers and they did not even know it. It used to be a status symbol to have lunch meetings and dates there. Ladies have had baby showers and guys hangout there especially after hours on Fridays. It’s difficult to count 5 bests in Lagos without mentioning this one…
In the course of a conversation I asked a friend why we no longer run into each other at this choice restaurant. He’s probably supped and dined there for at least 5 years and so have I. Sort of a traditional thing to have lunch there from the office with at least three colleagues to finish off that work discussion in a lighter mode. My friend said he no longer dines there because the standard and food quality has fallen. He now does lunch at other places that have “better” food quality. He thinks complacency has set in and the management was no longer brining their A game to the table. My friend’s conservative meal expenditure at this restaurant in five years can be modestly put at $15,000 in a year!
The restaurant doesn’t know that their sales have dipped. They don’t even also know that some high networth customers no longer eat their food. Let’s assume this trend continues and I didn’t even notice the quality of food had dropped, but I’m likely to follow my friend’s judgment because we’ve been friends forever and have similar choices. If I had pushed, he would have disclosed his new joint and I also would move restaurants and the restaurant still would not even know it.
So you ask, what’s the solution and what’s responsible for this? The restaurant doesn’t have any feedback channels for customers complaint. They just serve meals and have perhaps a manger who walks around saying hello to customers. The customers cannot vent or lodge any complaint. There’s no avenue or channels for that. The customers don’t have anyway of informing management of the dip in quality and standards. Even if they did, the manager might feel obligated to defend his brand rather than pay attention to what the customer is complaining about.
That’s where a customers’ Ombudsman comes in. If the restaurant had an Ombudsman, and the customers are aware of this function, the Ombudsman would have been informed either by text message, email, Twitter, Whatsapp, telephone call and or any other communicative medium available to the restaurant. The Ombudsman might have followed up to ascertain which services precisely is being complained about or what meals. Management would fix it and perhaps rewarded the customer who lodged the complaint with complimentary meals for some days to encourage others to lodge any dissatisfactory complaint.
The restaurant might have saved over $45,000 from several customers in a year and sustained its food quality and customers. This is the value the Customers’ Ombudsman brings to the table.