Complicated coupons, inconvenient payment processes, and even walk-in birthday parties can cause small friction points, leading to big frustration.

Reputation is critical to any business’s success, and maintaining one that’s positive is easier said than done. Most companies have a plan for handling significant customer issues, but It doesn’t take huge mistakes to wreak havoc. Even minor friction points can erode your guests’ perception of your business over time.

Read on for seven common  friction points that could damage your business and what to do about them

No. 1: Complicated coupons (and promotions)

You want to do something nice for your guests to increase revenue and drive traffic. But then you think, “Hmm, I don’t want to give too much away.” So, you make a (long) list of offer terms and conditions, blackout dates, and so on. Then guests don’t use your coupon or engage with your promotion. Or worse, you spend a week or two fielding complaints and approving returns and transaction overrides. Sound familiar? If so, chances are, your offer is too complicated.

When planning a special offer, ensure it’s easy for the average person to understand when buying – or selling. Consider how it will be implemented, promoted, and redeemed at your point of sale, including what training your team will need.

No. 2: Walk-in birthday parties

You might have done a double-take when you read that walk-in parties might be harmful, but they can hurt guests’ perception of your party program. When guests don’t buy a package, complete with a highly-trained, dedicated host to make the event memorable, you could be marketing an experience that doesn’t represent the terrific experience you’ve likely spent years developing.

Walk-in parties often appear chaotic, disjointed, and unmanageable, significantly differing from the message you want to send to your guests. If an unplanned party arrives, welcome them by offering a proper party experience if you can accommodate them into the schedule. Explain the benefits and why your parties provide so much more than a space and a server. If you can’t accommodate them that day, Birthday Party Expert, Frank Price, says to “explain that the party program at your facility is unique in that it’s your passion to make the birthday child the center of attention the entire time. If you don’t typically allow outside food unless it’s part of a party experience, offer to store the cake for them until they leave.” This way, you’re not allowing others visiting that day to get the wrong impression about your party offerings.

Even if you can’t accommodate a party, it’s still a good idea to recognize the guest of honor and make them feel welcome, such as by giving them a bonus attraction or additional gameplay as a gift. For more on elevating your party program, join us in Raleigh for Birthday University June 21-22.

No. 3: Unread reviews

Reviews can sometimes feel more like a curse than a blessing when negative reviews appear online. Plan how to respond to negative reviews. Each response should acknowledge the issues, thank the guest for their feedback, and outline the steps your business will take to remedy the situation or prevent it from happening again. Be careful not to sound defensive or angry because people reading the exchange will judge your business based on your response.

Responding quickly to any kind of review or social media comments is a good idea. But don’t just copy and paste responses. Try to give each review personal attention to show your sincerity.

Sometimes responding to reviews is about educating others, Frank suggests. If a guest complains that you didn’t allow them to bring in their cake, for example, you can explain that you’re sorry but that your birthday party experiences are special and that you can’t deliver a high level of service unless they are prearranged, so you can plan for your dedicated team to host.

No. 4: Frustrated team members

You (and your team) already know that guests expect a smiling staff who work quickly and accurately to welcome them to your facility.

But it’s how your team behaves when they think no one is watching that can damage your brand unintentionally. Bottom line: Your leadership style matters. Do you have inefficient processes? A team member you let slide one too many times? A snippy attitude when you’re stressed? All these little things build frustration in your team that can cause them to vent when they think the coast is clear. I can’t tell you how often I’ve overheard employees complain about how their company or boss handles situations in restaurants, venues, retail shops, and even doctor’s offices. Now is a good time if you haven’t looked internally into your behavior or management habits lately.

No. 5: Disjointed web store experiences

A poorly laid out website that doesn’t easily navigate to your web store can cause your would-be guests frustration and abandoned sales. Theming your web store to look and feel like the rest of your website is essential for your overall credibility.

Ensure that your website has clear calls to action to lead guests to sign waivers, book parties, or buy attractions so that their experience with you starts on the right foot.

No. 6: Inconsistent kitchen management

Bad food is just bad for business. But it’s not just food quality that’s an issue. Inconsistent kitchen management can result in variations in appearance, leading to dissatisfied customers and negative reviews. Guests expect a consistent dining experience; if they don’t get the burger they got last time, they may lose trust in your brand.

Inefficiencies in your kitchen operations are also harmful. Long wait times, incorrect orders, and poor inventory management can lead to customer friction, leading guests to dine elsewhere.

No. 7: Inconvenient payment practices

Customer demands are ever-changing. Positive or negative, companies like Amazon have changed how we purchase products and have impacted our expectations about how long something should take to arrive. Companies like Door Dash and Grub Hub changed how we order food.

Nowadays, customers also want the flexibility to pay restaurant checks with or without their server present. And with credit card security top of mind, businesses need the ability to take payments securely, rather than on the phone, for event deposits and final payments. Are your payment processes making it easy and convenient for guests to buy? If not, it probably makes sense to review your options with your facility management software provider.  (more on CenterEdge’s Click to Pay and Pay at the Table coming soon). 

Your business can’t afford to let small friction points damage your overall reputation. But if you take some time now to address them, you’ll strengthen your processes and ensure you’re delivering the guest experience that you intend.

Leave a Comment