“How’s Everything Here?”

“How’s Everything Here?”

Our server’s perfunctory question, asked across her shoulder with her torso pointing where she was headed next, got the answer she was seeking: “Great, fine, all good.”

This ritual Ask-and-Answer does have a purpose: Were something missing or really, really wrong at our table, she might catch it.  I say might because for various reasons, there are many guests who will say “Great, fine, all good” even when fundamentally dissatisfied.

For a majority of Americans, especially those over 35, complaining is impolite. Our self-image simply won’t allow for it. “That’s just not who I am.”

Here are some long established1 statistics:

  • The average business never hears from 96 percent of its unhappy customers. For every complaint received, the average company in fact has 26 customers with problems, 6 of which are “serious” problems.2
  • Those who do trouble to complain are far more likely than non-complainers to do business again with the company that upset them, even if the problem isn’t satisfactorily resolved.
  • Of the customers who register a complaint, between 54 and 70 percent will do business again with the organization if their complaint is resolved. That figure goes up to a staggering 95 percent if the customer feels that the complaint was resolved promptly.
  • The average customer who has had a problem with an organization tells 9 to 10 people about it. Thirteen percent of people who have a problem with an organization recount the incident to more than 20 people.
  • Customers who have complained to an organization and had their complaints satisfactorily resolved tell an average of five people about the treatment they received.

These stats were compiled before the amplification afforded by social media platforms like Yelp and Trip Advisor. Now hundreds may read about an unresolved complaint.

Instead of focusing on acquiring new guests, what if your core marketing efforts were devoted to strengthening your relationship with the guests you already have?

According to Bain and Company:

A 5% increase in retention yields profit increases of 25 to 100%

Repeat customers spend, on average, 67 percent more than new customers

U.S. organizations lose one half of their customers every 5 years

Customer disloyalty stunts growth by 25% to 50%


In our Rethink Restaurants training program, one of the very first things we establish is a Guest At Risk communication system. You can read about this fundamental reputation management tool here (LINK).

And if you want to gather substantial intel about your guests’ experience, our proven strategy is described here (LINK)