Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Friska - how restaurants should deal with feedback

Friska, for those of you who don't know it, is a popular cafe in Bristol. In fact, there's two of them. One on Victoria Street and one in Emerson's Green.

They're a great example of how cafes and restaurants should deal with customer feedback.

I'd been looking at their menu online (a real menu, not a pointless sample menu) and noticed that they do a Malaysian Fish Laksa on a Thursday. I really like Malaysian food, having spent a couple of months there on and off whilst travelling. Malaysian Laksa is powerfully flavoured soup, made with stock, anchovies and/or fish sauce, chillies and fresh herbs.

So, seeing it on Friska's menu I got all excited and went along last Thursday to have some.

It wasn't what I was expecting. All the strong flavours and lively spicing had been toned down and what I got was a bowl of sweetish, reasonably tasty soup. It had obviously been made with care and the veg was fresh, but in my mind it just wasn't Laksa.

And that's just what I told them. They have a feedback form on their website which makes the whole process easy and avoids any of the embarrassment. As it happens, I also told them via Twitter. They responded, quickly and helpfully, by email and Twitter.

They explained that they'd tried selling a more authentic Laksa, but it just didn't work. The vast majority of people just didn't like the strong flavours. Which, I guess, is fair enough. There's not a lot of point making something that no-one is going to buy. They also sent me a voucher for free lunch. Simple and straightforward.

It's dealing with feedback like that that leaves customers like me with a really positive impression of a place. I appreciate that all the food might not be to my taste, but the majority of it is. And I'll always go back to places where the food and service are good.

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